On our wall + in my mind. A cc ski in the woods is in order.

This hangs on our bedroom wall:

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And after this morning, this hangs in my mind:

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Best part of our basketball season (it’s not what you think)

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The benefits for kids in sports and activities are well-documented. Kids’ sports build youngster’s confidence, skills, friendships, competitive spirit and a soulful comfort for being part of something.

Our youngest, Caroline, again played basketball this year, and she garnered all those benefits. You should have seen how all the girls’ dribbles, shots and rebounds improved! We even figured out how to NOT double-dribble and travel (kinda…).

But the best part of our “Slam Dunkers” basketball season wasn’t anyone on the team, a coach, a game or the girls’ improvement performance. It was an amazing young lady we met just before our season began. She was perhaps as heartwarmed as all of us to learn how just little things really touch lives.

Tip-off night

The Lakeville North Panthers Girls Basketball Association coordinates a “Panther” program where each in-house has an assigned high school player. We met our Panther, Logan, at tip-off night. While we waited in the stands, the JV and Varsity players were introduced, then took their spots to meet their in-house teams. Photo credits to Jodi D. (aka Logan’s mom).

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She had their attention!
She had their attention!

She signed posters for the girls, talked hoops and doled out lots of candy.

There's our Logan. | photo credit: Jodi D. (aka Logan's mom)
There’s our Logan!

Game on

We then saw her at one of her games. The girls came to our house beforehand for some team fun, and we made her cookies and a sign. Logan had called all the girls and invited them to her game. They were thrilled!

Glitter galore!
Glitter galore!
Some sweet creations for our #22!
Some sweet creations for our #22!

Of course Logan didn’t get ALL the goodies!

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Fueled up with icing, we headed to Lakeville North for the game. Again, photo credits to Jodi D.

Look who came over to say Hello during warm-ups!
Look who came over to say Hello during warm-ups!

Since Logan is young, and predominantly a B and JV player, she doesn’t always log court time in Varsity games. But since the Panthers were ahead by quite a few baskets, she got to go in! Our girls cheered everything Logan did (as they ought to). She had a great stint and our girls stood and yelled and clapped their little hearts out the entire time.

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P-i-z-z-a!

After the game, the Panthers hosted a pizza party for all the in-house players. Logan joined our team and stayed to chat with our girls longer than any other Panther. She was attentive, encouraging, silly and clever. Exactly what our little Panthers needed. Bonus: Our older daughter Julia was there, too. She will be a freshman next year, and Logan had some great insights to high school life. (Her mom also had insights for this mom, +whew+.) Her surprise news? She was coming to their game the next day!

Win for Logan

Sitting across the court that morning, watching our little Panthers step it up while their mentor cheered ’em on just warmed my heart. Here’s a young lady who was 9 years old not so very long ago. And yet now, she’s a role model. A POSITIVE role model that spirit, guts, smiling and cheering is the way to live your life.

This had nothing to do with basketball, even though that was our original common ground. It had everything to do with living life with fire and passion and goals.

On behalf of moms of girls everywhere, thank you, Logan. You did more than you can ever know for these girls–well, if you are a mom someday, you’ll know then. And you’ll hopefully fondly, proudly remember your season as Our Panther.

Hi-five!
Hi-five!
Good game!
Good game!

Overtime!

Fast-forwarding a few weeks, Logan even refereed our team’s final game of the season. She was one of our better refs, taking teachable moments, encouraging the players and yet not babying them.

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Afterwards, she gave each girl a gift bag of treasures, including a CD of photos (many of which I used in this post), handmade bracelet, personalized symbol for each girl with their key personality trait (peace, bravery, friendship) and this homemade artwork:

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Our real trophy

Of course the girls also got big trophies at the end of our season. But I pray (and somehow know) what will truly stick with each of them is their time with an amazing young lady. I know someday, they will be great mentors to others, too. That’s how all this works, you know…