The Tryout

by Jay Fadden

A child shoots a basketball surrounded by people on the court

One rainy day last week, I heard noise in my backyard. I got up from the chair I was sitting in and made my way over to the window to look outside. There was Ethan, his hood on, shooting baskets in the rain. He continued this for the next three hours. The next day was colder and I thought he would not be able to practice. Then, I heard noise in the garage. I opened the door to the garage slightly and peered in. Ethan had cleared out an area in front of the car and was practicing dribbling. He did this for the next hour.

Ethan is an average player who works extremely hard. It is a joy to watch him and the effort he puts into the sport. He continues to improve through sheer determination.

On Sunday, we went to the last tryout. We had to rush there because he played in a travel game right before the tryout, so I was afraid he would be tired. As we walked in, I asked him if he was OK, and he told me he was very nervous, but not tired.

Inside the gym, it was typical Ethan. He did not know any of the other players as they warmed up. Yet he would dribble up to them and just start talking to them. He would look over at me every so often and give me a smile or a thumbs up.

I thought that he did well in his tryout. He worked hard, passed the ball, and scored a few baskets. When the tryout ended, we walked together out of the gym. I looked at him and he looked sad. He told me he didn’t think he made the team and thought he could have done better. I tried my best to assure him that I thought he did well, and that if he didn’t make the team, we would work together on basketball.

While I gave Ethan those words of encouragement, I was also disappointed—not because of his performance, which I thought was gritty and great, but because I knew he was hurting. As a parent, it is always difficult when a child is disappointed or in pain. Their pain is your pain. It is something that is hard to describe and difficult to avoid. Ethan worked hard, did all the right things and still may not achieve what he had been working towards. Now, I am biased. I know how hard he worked and what a kind and gentle kid that he is, but that does not fit into the equation when teams are determined. There are other kids who may just be more talented. I understand that, but Ethan does not.

There are moments in life that are hard. They do not always involve you directly, but can sometimes involve people you love, and that can be just as painful. But these moments are just a page in the book that is our life. Ethan will have many more opportunities. Ethan will always have his faith and family. As I write this, I do not know if Ethan has made the Swarm team, but I do know that he tried his best. What a joy he is to me, Shirley, Amelia, James, and all who know him.


The Tryout