• Stephannie Bramlett

Learning through the Losses

I remember her dribbling for the first time. She slapped the ball with such enthusiasm and chased it all over the court! Pushing with all of her might, she launched the ball for a lowered 8.5ft goal! Four and a half years ago my oldest daughter, Carly Deane, requested we sign her up for basketball. I only knew the basics of the sport. While I am super competitive in nature, I am not athletic. Instead, I have found my role as the cheerleader (in the stands) for my favorite teams. Now, instead of major leagues and NCAA, my time is spent cheering on my own children as players! Carly has tried just about every sport our area has to offer for youth athletics. She has played soccer, t-ball, softball, gymnastics, volleyball, tumbling, dance...you name it! Before her first practice all those years ago, I had never seen her dribble a basketball. It just wasn't a part of our lifestyle. Cab, while quite athletic, was a baseball player. Neither of us knew anything but the basic rules.

In our town, our Recreation department is a free service to the community (funded by tax dollars and grants). So, I figured, "why not?" when she asked me to sign her up for basketball. We would only be out our time and she could play something new. Little did I know the love that would be sparked in her! Cab took her to the initial meeting with the recreation department. A friend of Cab's from high school, Brandon, worked as an athletic coordinator for the recreation department. Brandon stood there peering into the audience of players and parents. "We need a coach for the Brookwood girls 7/8 team," he said. Crickets... as he locked eyes with Cab. "Everyone welcome, Coach Cab!" Brandon chuckled, as he announced to the audience. He knew Cab would support the girls and "take one for the team", so to speak.

The first season of basketball was SO MUCH FUN! However, we did not win one game. Seriously, we lost every single game except for one, in which we tied. I remember not even caring about the losses and being more excited about seeing the little girls out there grow as players! We made wonderful new friends and memories with so many of the families. I remember falling in love a little bit more with Cab each game as he worked with those girls to teach them teamwork! Cab watched countless tutorials on coaching youth sports, specifically girls basketball. At the end of that season, Cab was voted to be the all-star coach. While we were a little surprised, he was excited to try something on a different level. The girls learned so much, and "Coach Cab" had found a new piece of his identity. Once the season was officially over, all we heard about was basketball. When was camp? Could she play during the off season with a travel team? The questions were endless and we soon realized Carly Deane had found a true love in basketball!

The next season, Cab coached the team to an undefeated season and championship! The girls formed a team to play in off-season in local tournaments. The following season the girls won second place in recreation league and placed either first or second in several tournaments. This last season of elementary school basketball, Carly's team went undefeated and absolutely dominated in the recreation league. Cab was beyond proud...much less about the champion title, but more that every girl on the team had court time. Every girl on the team scored baskets during the season! His goal was not to beat other teams by 50 points (and they totally could have) but more about teaching the girls to play as a team and building the confidence of the new players (half of the team were brand new to basketball)!

Michael Jordan once said, "I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." If Carly Deane had given up after that first season of nothing but losses, she would have missed out on the opportunity to play in several other championships! Her team now is currently in a losing streak. They win games here and there, but for some reason are finding a tough time winning a tournament this spring. After every game, Coach Cab has a meeting with the girls. He uses constructive criticism to correct what went wrong and encourages them for the next game. Lately, I've worried after these losses, if they were feeling like quitting. After a particularly bad beat-down this last weekend, Cab talked about the game and the missed opportunities. Then he said, "Do you guys want to play in another tournament?" I was fully expecting a bunch of sighs and no's, but instead he received an excited unified "YEA!" Here I was expecting them to be finished...to quit...to move on... not these girls! These girls will press on toward their goal and win the prize!

Carly Deane is already talking about middle school and her future with basketball. Soon, her daddy will no longer be her coach. She and her teammates will grow together under different leadership! I hope the new coach recognizes the love these girls have for the sport and their determination to never quit! More than that, I hope this sport and the valuable lessons they have learned from both winning and losing will further each girl on her path of success. God has gifted them all with different talents and abilities and it is such an honor to watch them become the young ladies they are supposed to be! Cab often mentions how he feels like God placed him in a position to be a positive, Christian role model and father-figure to these girls through coaching youth sports. He has many years left, as our middle daughter, Charlotte, already roped him in to coaching her team this last season, too! Lord willing, he will lead those girls through the wins and losses through the next few years, as well. No matter what, even if we never win another one, I hope the girls know they are valued beyond the win!

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