Ok, I actually don't have anything too exciting to report. Remember, I was basically an absentee father from late November to early March. Really, I just want to talk about my team and how great they've been. My girls had a pretty good season. We doubled our win total from the previous year and even made some noise in the state tournament. But they could have won the whole damn thing and it probably wouldn't have meant more to me then how they've been with Emily all season. It started last August when we returned home from her Superhip surgery in Florida and found a massive pink box stuffed high with toys, coloring books, crayons, dvds and every type of fun imaginable, all courtesy of Hand girls' basketball. The mini basketball that every kid signed was a pretty nice touch, too.
It didn't stop during the season, either. If Kate brought Ems to practice, everything stopped as they elbowed each other out of the way to be the first to pick her up. After a good win or a tough loss, these girls were never too tired, too busy or too cool to roll around on the floor with my ever-energetic toddler. When it came time for our team picture, they insisted that Emily be in the shot. Like I was going to say no.
And if that was all they did, it would still be more than I could ever want.
But they went above and beyond. They went ABOVE above and beyond. In an effort to raise some money for our future Florida excursions, a good friend donated his tickets for the Lakers-Celtics game in Boston. 9th row behind the basket. Phenomenal seats. Our booster club took the opportunity and ran with it, selling raffle tickets to anyone with a wallet. The team carried Emily out to center court during halftime of one of our biggest games so she could pick the winning ticket. One of my senior captains was even kind enough to point out the dance teams' skimpy outfits and say "we wear longer shorts than that, Emily." Well done.
One of my sophomores, however, wasn't satisfied. She got her parents to front enough money to buy 1,000 black rubber bracelets with "HOOPS FOR EMILY" printed in gold on them. The team went to work selling these as well.
At the banquet, my girls presented Kate and I with two checks. I'm not often speechless, but, well, you get the idea. In my attempt to sufficiently thank everyone for their effort and support, I tried to tell them just how much it all meant to me...how much THEY meant to me. I told them someday we're going to win a state title. We have the talent and the commitment in this town necessary to make that happen. But I wouldn't trade ten state titles for the privilege of coaching this basketball team. And if you think I got through that without getting a little emotional, then you haven't been paying attention.
So, to Ash, Leo, Kelsey, Kara, Jackie, Morgan, Kelsey, Gianna, Graceann, Fitz, Jenn, Hannah, Trish, Grace, Sophie, Colette and Lily...thank you. Thank you for everything you've done for me and my family.