Saturday, March 7, 2009

Thank You Upwards

Last night was the awards program for our Upwards basketball season. It was an entertaining and inspiring evening. The kids had a great time, it was the perfect end to the season. This was the first year that everyone played. Lindy did cheerleading last year and this was Kyle's third year playing basketball.

I can't say enough about the Upwards program. I don't know of any sport activity that my children can participate in where they are all given equal time to play regardless of skill. Where they spend time learning Christian values. Where they are required to treat each other with respect and practice good sportsmanship. Where it is just simply fun without pressure to win all the time. Where each game we are given an inspirational speech from one of the church members that let's us reflect and be thankful for all that we are given.

The kids like to win games but the emphasis is on having a good time and working together as a team. It is so refreshing to watch games with coaches giving positive comments from sidelines and not constant yelling and shouting out directions. I have grown tired of this at soccer over the years.

This is a church ministry in which many people devote countless hours to making this the best program it can be. We have always had wonderful coaches who have a gift for teaching kids basketball. I am very grateful for that. What I don't think the coaches are aware of is how much of an impact this experience can make on children's lives. Especially those that are already grounded in their faith, they can get even more from the program.

Kyle and Lindy are my easy going, outgoing kids. Ethan needs more time to warm to ideas. Paige is shy and reserved. Ethan has spent the last year going to not only all of Kyle's games and practices to watch. He loves to play basketball but has never been a big fan of team sports. His two year Karate career ended last summer due to an anxiety issue with the testing. For him to sign up, go through the evaluations and make it to practice is a huge accomplishment. He loved practice. He was so excited and nervous for his first game. Near the end of the first game he got the ball and was cornered with both teams surrounding him. He didn't know what to do, panicked and fell into my lap in the middle of the game. I thought that was going to be it and he would not return to play again. His coach called to check on him that evening and I reassured Ethan that the coach and team want him to come back and that they would work on all the things he didn't know. He returned, he went to all the practices and games. He never gave up, he conquered his anxiety and fears. He is so proud of himself as we are as well. Bill and I know this would not have happened on another kind of team. He would not have felt as comfortable or as safe with the environment. His entire season has been a huge self esteem boost more than even Bill and I probably realize.

Paige is painfully shy. She does not like to do things without having Lindy by her side. But she really likes basketball and was willing to give it a try. Same as Ethan, if she had just shown up for evaluations I would have been pleased! But she too stuck with it. She had a little set back a couple of weeks into the session. She missed a couple of games but was able to work it out and return to the team. This was another huge step for her, both which will be life changing for the two of them.

Both Paige and Ethan, have grown not just in faith over the last three months, but in overcoming personal challenges. Ones that I think have helped their self esteem in ways that I could never have accomplished at home. Most importantly they grew as people. They were given this awesome experience of Upwards because so many were willing to put so much into this program. They will always remember what they did this season and can't wait for the next!
Thank you to all our Upwards coaches and leadership. Your time and enthusiasm means more than you know.


Laura said...

Amen, Margot! Our experience with Upwards soccer was so positive and enriching! We are very much looking forward to Upward flag football this summer/fall :)

Good job Kyle, Ethan, Lindy and Paige! Pretty soon Erin will be out there too!

Gretchen said...

Everyone did such a great job! Lindy-loo I am so sorry that I did not get to see you cheer this year; I promise I will do better next year. But I love all of you cheers and dancing that you do at home! K-man, E-man and Paige-a-roo you did an awesome job. It can be very intimidating to get out on the court and have others reach over you or run into you but you did great!