When I first met my husband, we were straddling the 30-year-old mark, living in the city and both really focused on our careers. Like, really focused. So I was shocked when I learned that he was coaching a grade school basketball team in Naperville. “Do you have a nephew on the team?” Nope. “Do you have a friend’s kid on the team?” Nope. “So why are you doing it?,” I asked. “Just because I want to,” he said. It seemed strange at first, but after a few games it became my favorite part of the week. Every Saturday we’d load up the car with all the gear and head out to Naperville. The kids were so excited to see him and he was truly having a blast. It made me fall in love with him all over again every weekend.
Soon after that we got engaged, moved in together, got married and had our first child (my son Max). Throughout Max’s babyhood, my husband was in a complete state of “who moved my cheese”. He tried. Really, he did. But I think it’s just easier for mom’s to keep up with the constant developmental changes that happen with little ones. Yet, admittedly, the whole time I kept thinking back to those Saturday afternoons in Naperville. Would he be as patient an “into it” if Max ever got old enough to play (or was interested in playing) on a basketball team?
Last weekend I got my answer.
Max is now 6 yrs old. No more baby. He’s a full-fledged, card-carrying kid. He looks, acts and talks like a kid. We watch the Food Network at night and he turns on ESPN when he wakes up. And last Saturday, my husband coached Max’s second Northbrook Park District basketball game. I looked out on the court and my heart melted 10 times over any of those lifetime-ago Naperville days. As the boys ran up and down the court, my husband chased after them giving them guidance and a push when needed. He was on every one of their moves. He knew all their strengths, weaknesses and their names (which is no easy feat). He was sensitive to when they needed water, yet never treated them like anything other than an athlete who needs to “suck it up” a little. At one point I watched as the team took on a little independence and he stood back to take it all in… the familiar, rubber-meets-sweat scent, the frenzy of flailing arms, the pounding of determined feet, the familiar piercing sound of the whistle and the realization that Max, his son, was in the middle of it all. He was finally in the moment he’d been waiting for since the second he found out I was pregnant. He was Coach Scott. And there was NOWHERE he’d rather have been in that second. It was amazing.
After the game we went to Starbucks in downtown Northbrook. Instead of sinking into the normal stress about work, Scott sat back and let both kids (our daughter Sami is 3.5) crawl all over him. He was more relaxed than I’ve seen him since those beloved Naperville days. And even though no one keeps score (which drives me nuts), we definitely won. I didn’t need a scoreboard. Every fiber of my being told me so.