My mom always taught me the importance of a thank you note growing up. That whether you received a gift, or had an interview or if someone did something for you that was meaningful, you said thanks. Better yet, you wrote them a note.
After spending the past two weekends in Lincoln with my basketball loving daughters, I have come to wonder if a thank you is even enough? I’ll forever know this — it’s certainly not a time to write about why we would need a shot clock.
So, here goes.
To Tim and Hunter and Saint, to Doug and Chucky and Frankie — and all the stars in between — thank you for last Saturday night. For the athleticism and the scoring runs. For the competitiveness. For the skill, oh, the skill. For the love of each other and the game.
To Alexis and Jillian and Miriam and the Bolts — thanks for the first weekend in March. For playing with precision and power and grace. And, for taking nothing for granted. But, mostly, for playing with a spirit and love for the game that was constantly present.
To Josh and the Jays — thanks for showing us grit in the midst of heartache. And for showing us that five together could accomplish more than one alone. And that there is nothing wrong with giving your best even if your score is one less.
From Coach Luedtke pic.twitter.com/ZpuuWMxInW
— Jr. Jay Basketball (@JrJayBasketball) March 16, 2021
To Jim and Cam and the Bulldogs, thank you for not caring what other people think. Thank you for showing us high school basketball can be won many different ways and that you can be important without shooting, but by being a leader.
To Allison and Britt, thanks for the endless work you did when no one was watching. So that when the lights came and the perfect pass was made, or the perfect drive to the hoop led to a tough finish, when they would say, “How she’d do that,” I could reply, “Lots of hard work.”
To Kaden and Grace, thank you understanding the power of a moment and what it will mean to a town for many years to come. But, also thank you for not letting it define who you are as people. We learn multiple times over at the state tournament that the real “winning” is not in the scoreboards, but the lessons. You are so much more than the shots you made.
To Benji and Jordan, thank you for showing grace on top of the disappointment. For teaching young men and women that some day — when they are dads and moms — that this experience will still be truly special to them, not for the silver, but for the bus rides and the locker room chats.
To Dante and Brady and Lucas, to Samantha and Erison and Brianna, thanks for your competitive will against opponents who may go down as all-time greats. Championships should never be easy and your determination made their quest for titles worthy.
To Jay and Jon, the officials, announcers and everyone else. Thank you for standing up for kids and the important lessons these games teach. Thank you for standing up for schools and communities who wanted to do the right thing as safely as possible. We’ll look back on this season as a trying and difficult one; one that was met with skepticism, but one that needed to happen if it could. Your sound reasoning and communication made it worth the struggle.
Yeah, the girls I took to Lincoln the past two weekends learned a whole bunch. They learned that around 4:30 was the perfect time for a waffle cone, but also that you can, in fact, eat too many chicken tenders. They learned that “free throws are important” and that the game they just watched had “the most points ever” even if they were dead tired and ready for the hotel bed.
They learned that basketball is so much more than points and winning and losing. They learned that great teams — ones that stick together — are fun to watch. They thought about what it might be like to be on this stage someday. And, dad thought about, even if they don’t get here, but if they work hard and do their best we will also love the lessons that basketball gives us back.
And, for that, we’ll better people. And we might just have two weekends in March 2021 to offer the biggest thanks.