Basketball. There’s a ball. There’s a basket. Whether it was from the sideline, the court, the couch or the driveway, you’ve seen it, played it, loved it, or hated it. In my husband and I’s family, basketball is just something that we know…something that we do. Okay, not so much me. I’m usually in the kitchen making a chocolate cake or changing a diaper or finding the first aid kit, but I do know the rules and I can hang with the best of them in a game of horse. Our dad played college ball. Amy and I went several rounds on our hoop growing up. The hoop that stood on an aggregate driveway. The aggregate driveway that had thousands of tiny pebbles in it making your dribble awkward and rollerskating darn near impossible. (Here I end the divulgence of completely irrelevant information.) My husbands grandfather was a coach and there was always a ball at any family gathering. We enjoy the game.
This past week we drove home for a family funeral. My husband’s Uncle Doug, the eldest of four boys, passed away from complications with cancer. It was sudden. Life is that way. Funerals are the time you rally around the loved ones left by the life lost. It’s a time you recall the best of times and even the funniest of times. Uncle Jay (number 4 in the line up and a pastor) led the services and told stories about Doug’s love of backroads, his way with words, and his faith in Christ.
Uncle Rich (number 3 in the line up and, incidentally, a basketball coach) wrote a story about his older brother. I wanted to share it, not just for the story, but more so for what happened afterward. If you know anyone with a love for the game please pass it on.
“The ‘Brother’hood of Basketball”
By former Medina, former Hallettsville, current Sonora Lady Bronco Basketball Coach
and brother to a basketball official
“The basketball official just signaled travel with an awkward motion above his head. I am scouting a game film late in February. If you are scouting late in February then you really should be focused, but I find myself watching the referee and not the game. There he goes again – the slightly overweight, middle aged official – is hustling beside the high school players on a fast break. I think to myself… ‘this guy thinks he is an official at the state tournament’. The video is an early tourney game in Central Texas and I have never seen an official try so hard. Again, I find myself watching the basketball official and not the game. More hustle and more calls above his head. I am all by myself in a dark room just sitting watching the game film with a huge smile on my face. Then it happens – BOOM! – the official’s face comes right in front of the screen. It is my brother. It is his first year to be a basketball official. Our dad was a high school basketball coach. We both played college basketball. We both love the sport. My smile gets bigger with every hustle play by my brother and I find myself laughing out loud with every call he signals above his head. My focus on scouting is lost. I give up on the video work and call my brother. I ask him about his mechanics and officiating. He tells me that he was making his calls “high in the air” and “so the fans could see the
calls”. At the exact same moment in time, we realize how funny both his officiating and his comments were and we laugh. Not the regular laugh but the big belly laugh that hurts and brings tears to your eyes. That laugh will last forever in my mind….
Thank you to all the organizations that make basketball possible. Thank you to all the coaches, players and fans that love the game.
Most of all THANK YOU basketball for giving my brother some of the greatest memories and experiences of his life.
Rest in peace my brother….”
This story was emailed to friends, family, and acquaintances in the basketball community. It basically went viral within circles of coaches, players, and officials in the sport. As Uncle Rich shared the story again the day of the funeral, he added that the response to the tribute he wrote for his brother was unexpected. A slew of emails, an offer for it to be published, and then this. One particular referee contacted Uncle Rich letting him know that, come Friday night, first call of the game, he was going call it high in the air, hands above the head.
My father in law (number 2 in the line up), then, invited us, as a group, to raise our hands above our head and signal the call for traveling. We all, including Uncle Doug’s wife, mother, children, and grandchildren, raised our hands high in the air and rotated our fists one over the other. I’m sure we looked ridiculous, but it was the best kind of ridiculous. Tears welled up as I pictured officials, possibly across the state of Texas, doing the same come Friday night after the whistle blows.
May we all be more intentional to cherish the life we live and honor the lives of those we love.