So January 24, 2010 will go down in history.
It will be the day that WE WON.
It will be the day that one player scored the game-winning points in the final minutes of the game.
And it will be the day her mom will never forget.
It has been a rough season for the Norco 7-8-year-old girls basketball team.
The team with the girls who look like they should have driver's licenses beat us 19-0.
The team with the coach's kid who plays like a boy (yes I said it) and shoots NBA 3-pointers at 8 beat us twice. Yesterday they beat us 20-4.
And walking out of the gym with my arm over her shoulders, I did my best to convince my soon-to-be 9-year-old daughter that having fun and loving the game are more important than winning. Sometimes teams are just better, I said.
And today, she got up and put on her uniform and went back out on the court with a smile on her face.
We're not a bad team. We have girls who can dribble. We have girls who can shoot. And we have a 4-foot-8 1/2 soon-to-be 9-year old that other teams guard like white on rice. The problem is, we can't pass. Or catch.
And the big girl -- they call her The Shaq -- stands on her spot and patiently waits for someone to throw her the ball. But nobody does. And if they do, she's likely not to see it anyway. And if a reboundable ball comes her way, it's just as likely to hit her on the head as on the hands. It did today, anyway.
But as the final minutes were ticking off and Norco was trailing 4-3, a ball bounced off the rim and hit her hands. Her hands closed on the ball. And after just a moment's hesitation, she remembered what she was supposed to do.
And she did.
And it went in.
And her mother stood up and screamed like a fool.
Running back up the court to find her defensive position, she looked up at me in the stands and smiled. Big. She was so happy. She was too far away to see the tears in my eyes, but knowing me the way she does, she knows they were there.
And then her father and I clutched each other and prayed that the other team would not score.
They did not.
We won the game.
She won the game.
And the smile on her face was huge as she accepted high-fives from her friends and her coaches and the other parents.
But it was nothing compared to mine.