Almost 10 years ago, my oldest son Jared called to tell me that he had made a $14,000 sale in his new company. He was so excited and I was very proud.
I flashed back to Jared’s seventh grade year and I felt an even greater sense of pride. There was a day in his life that I cannot forget.
Jared loved basketball and couldn’t wait until seventh grade when he could try out for the school team. He had the right build: tall – really tall – and slender.
He was very coordinated and because of his height, it was easy for him to reach up and lift the ball right into the basket.
He had the bedroom to go along with the game. It reeked of basketball, from the leather and rubber balls to the stinky sweaty shoes.
There were posters and pictures of many basketball players, particularly Larry Bird. Jared knew everything there was to know about Bird and the Celtics.
Jared had the right attitude and was intent on making the team. He prepared himself for the tryouts by attending camps and working on his shots every day after school.
In fact, he persuaded his brothers to pool their money and cement part of the back yard to make a basketball court. After the cement was laid, Jared carefully painted the necessary markings for a real basketball court. Then he practiced faithfully.
The day arrived for the two-week tryout. Jared felt strong and self-confident. Basketball meant so much to him.
I was more anxious than he was.
The two weeks were grueling. He’d come in the door with, “Made all my free throws” and “I’ve never run so much.”
Soon enough it was the last day of tryouts and the list was to be posted at 7 that evening. I could hardly contain my excitement. Everything seemed so right.
Those few hours seemed an eternity as Jared watched the clock. When it hit 7, he yelled, “Mom, let’s go!”
We loaded into the car and headed to the school. We were the first ones to arrive. I pulled in front and Jared jumped out of the car.
He looked at the posted list and turned toward the car. His six-foot body walked a little slow. His countenance didn’t appear sad. I couldn’t tell if he had made it or not.
He slid into the front seat and turned toward me. His eyes were filled with tears, as he softly whispered, “I didn’t make it.”
My heart was broken. I tried hard not to cry. I reminded him that I had run for the school board and didn’t win. I reminded him of Michael Jordan not making his freshman team. I also reminded him that he could try again in high school.
You know, I’ve had kids who’ve ranged from Special Olympian to college athlete. I feel like I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum.
Whether they make the team or not, in my opinion, may not have as much bearing on life’s achievements as some think it does. In fact, I did my own research and found where the boys who did make the team were.
One boy turned to drugs. One became a father his junior year. Another had a couple of knee surgeries. Not one went on to play college ball.
And then there’s Jared, who didn’t make the team. He’s very successful in sales, and as I hear from his friends, “He’d give you the shirt off his back.”
Add to it, today, he is an amazing father to his three kids.
Maybe it was the trials in Jared’s life that built his character by making him work harder.
You know I now have a different perspective.
In the long run, it really doesn’t matter, whether he made the team.
Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County's Family Week Foundation. Email her at Director@jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org.