Last year I wrote a blog titled, Youth Basketball Mom.
Remember that one? It was a post about all the unpolishedness that goes on when young kids and their parents get involved in a local, recreational basketball league. If you missed it, might I suggest catching up HERE before reading on!
Local Shmocal. That was then. This is now. We’re no longer in Kansas; Or Boca. We’re traveling far from home; always on the road and the destinations are nothing short of unpolished!
How can I best describe the antics? Lemme try to break it down for you; and by break it down I mean break it down, not Breakdown, which happens to be the name of my kids’ teams!
Let’s begin with the hectic schedule of two kids on two separate teams committed to multiple practices a week. Sometimes the boys train at the same time but at different locations which means I have to be in two places at once. That’s always fun. Other times the kids have to stick around for each other’s practices because one team doesn’t start until the other team is finished so basically we’re out of the house for entire afternoons that flow into the evenings. Since I spend so many hours in gymnasiums I’ve considered having my mail forwarded to a bunch of center courts around town!
The weekly practice routine is nuts but the real craziness begins when Scorbot finally decides to post the tournament schedule for the upcoming weekend.
Scorbot is the online “efficient tournament management system” we rely on for details such as where the game(s) are played, what time the game(s) begin, who the opposing teams are and what pool and/or bracket we’ve landed in.
It’s not uncommon for the schedule to be delayed until late in the week which makes planning ahead a near impossibility; not to mention the information initially posted on a Wednesday or Thursday night can and typically does change various times before the first tip Saturday morning! The technology behind Scorbot is great, but it’s only as good as the multitude of moving parts which are what creates the inconsistencies.
THE JUGGLE IS REAL
Okay, so let’s say it’s Friday night and now we have a better handle on the schedule and we know where we need to be for the weekend…. This is where the
struggle juggle gets real because it’s conceivable to have two to three games per day per team depending on wins/losses. It’s also conceivable none of these games are played under the same roof.
In order to get the kids to the right gym at the right time there is a lot of dividing and conquering. My husband normally takes one kid and I take the other. Rarely do game times cooperate so that the four of us can travel together in one car for the entire weekend. Carpooling with other parents and players ends up being advantageous; especially when there’s an 8am game located sixty miles North and I don’t wanna drive solo.
PACK IT UP. PACK IT IN. LET IT BEGIN
If you think packing for a real trip is a pain in ass, packing for a day of travel ball is no free throw either! Unless you want to guarantee yourself an aching back by halftime as a result of sitting on the uncomfortable bleachers, you mustn’t forget to bring along the portable stadium chairs!
Next, don’t let the kids leave without flip flops because the special sneakers are to be stored in their backpacks only to be worn on the court during a game!
Got enough Gatorade? Is it cold? How about the water bottles? Did you pack more than one? Bring ice packs? Who’s got the snack bag? What’s in it? Is there enough for other kids too? It’s a longggggg day and these growing boys will no doubt complain of starvation between games regardless of making multiple pit stops to the nearest Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, Panera Bread or local pizza joints.
Then there’s the team swag. Warm-up shooter shirts go over our pimped out black and hot pink uniforms.
Speaking of our pimped out uniforms, the personalized names on the back of the jerseys remind me more of associates at an unpolished law firm than a travel basketball team!
LEARNING THE LINGO
As in any sport, following the game from the sidelines is easier when you have the lingo down pat. When the coach screams “ANTICIPATE” from the top of his lungs it means get in front of the ball and steal it! When he yells “TRAP, TRAP, TRAP” he expects two of his players to stop the opposition from scoring and take back possession of the ball. “SWING” means pass the basketball around the key until someone’s open to take a shot. “CHARGE! CHARGE! CHARGE!” lets the players know they aughta get their asses in front of their charging opponents and block!
I’d imagine most teams have secret offensive and defensive moves but how many name their plays Xbox, China, Miami and Gouda? I have no clue what those plays are all about but as long as the kids do, we’re Gouda!
The coaches aren’t the only ones screaming bloody murder. Fans in the stands are equally loud as they stick in their two cents encouraging players to keep their “HEAD UP, HEAD UP” as they dribble down the court or “PASS THE BALL” or “JUST TAKE THE SHOTTTTT!”
The foul line happens to be where I hear my personal favorite cheers and jeers. I absolutely love it when deep rooted Northern accents kick in as parents and grandparents shriek, “BLOCK THE SHOOTAH! BLOCK THE SHOOTAH! WHO’S GOT THE SHOOTAH?”
The hooting and hollering can sometimes get out of hand, especially when a bad call is made by a referee. Some parents [and coaches] take the game veryyyyyyyyyyyyyy seriously so you better believe on occasion I’ve seen some pretty aggressive interactions. Flagrant foul much?
But then of course there’s also other spectators who don’t scrutinize every play with such intensity. More power to the guy who’s happy to sleep through the shrill of the ref’s whistle when a coach calls for a timeout!
THE BREAKDOWN BOTTOM LINE: THE TEAMS’ SURE GOT HEART
By the end of a tournament weekend regardless of how many miles we’ve driven to get to the unpolished destinations, or how many different cars it took to get there, or how much junk we’ve fed the kids along the way or how many games we won or how many we completely got blown out by a better team, when it’s all said and done the break down bottom line of Team Breakdown is that the kids are totally dedicated; the coaches are totally dedicated and the parents are totally dedicated. It couldn’t and wouldn’t work any other way!
I’m not gonna lie; it’s a huge unpolished commitment from a time, energy and monetary stand point and one I’m not sure I realized before flopping in; but when you see the passion oozing from the hearts and souls of the kids it makes the sacrifice worth it. As the season progresses, it becomes evident how much the improvement shows from a skills perspective. More importantly, it’s extremely rewarding to witness how well the boys learn to trust and support one another which ultimately makes them mesh together as a cohesive team! The genuine camaraderie among the coaches, players and their entire families is truly unbeatable! No matter what the final score, that’s a WIN in my unpolished book!