What's Yours Like?

This blog came into being only months ago, inspired by a sensation that had stirred me for months as I moved from high school gym to high school gym; the sensation that there was a distinct connection between two seemingly unrelated ventures - the vibrancy of rural living and the unparalleled success of our small school, small town basketball team. Five months later, the basketball season that initiated this line of thought has (almost) ended for another year and I’m having a full circle experience.

The basketball year started with a tournament in St. John’s and ended this past weekend in Clarenville at the 3A Boys Basketball Provincials. In between game one of the season and the provincials, there was a boatload of games in the city, Mobile and happily, at home. Each time we travelled for basketball, new experiences awaited and for me, they included both the mundane and the spectacular. From easy, relaxed conversations with the ladies on the door exuberantly selling 50/50 tickets to sharing lively times with the players and their families to learning what an alley-oop really is, I feel blessed to have been a part of it all. Please remember that when Chris was asked to coach the team, I thought I would be hidden behind the velvety curtains on the stage, carefully refining my to do list or reading a book!

This weekend was exceptional. While the tournament was challenged by fierce weather, the organization was seamless and the welcome warm. The nine teams that played had earned the right to participate and brought with them not only their sharp basketball skills but also their unique connections to their home communities. At the glitzy opening ceremonies, each team proudly walked into the gym at Clarenville High School as if they were holding pieces of their communities, held high for all to see. Jerseys emblazoned with school names spoke of their upbringing in communities all over the province. From St. Bride’s to Labrador City and many places in between, the teams effortlessly exemplified their own connections to home.

While this weekend was all about basketball, it was about having a bit of fun, too! Led by two fun-loving but mischievous ladies, we played a crafty game called “What’s Yours Like?” This simple game brought us all together as a collective of basketball supporters as the wind howled around us in a power-less hotel! While that game was as good as a concert, it was also thoughtful. In the twenty four hours since we have arrived home I have thought about how I’d answer that curious question “What’s Yours Like?” about the team, their families and their coaches.

I’d say this: “They are courageous, gutsy, kind, aware, inclusive, skilled and very importantly, always always respectful. I look forward to getting to know all the players better as the years roll on but would like to offer a personal note to each of the grade 12s who graduated from senior boys basketball this weekend.

Thanks to Jonny for explaining the various aspects of technology to me over the last three years and for complementing my rainbow attire, to Jody for showing me that the game is never over until the game is over, to Jonathan for his jolly gentleman ways and encouraging smile and to you, Nathan of the Milepost for all the interesting, mild mannered chats as we ate Burger King after ecstatic wins and gruelling losses. As Chris dissected the game, you and I nodded, enjoying our burgers.

Without a doubt, a debt of immense and profound gratitude to Mr. Chris Mooney and dearest Chantel for all they do. How many nights have I sat on our couch listening to them plan, disagree, complement, laugh and surmise...all because of their fondness for this team.

The Fatima Royals represent, I think, the epitome of how we keep going and going in our lives, in our schools and in our communities, not in spite of our smallness but because of it. They have tumbled out onto many gym floors over the last months and years, each time as the smallest school in the tournament and each time, they simply brought all they could to the game of basketball. Let them be our example so that when someone looks at your community of Branch, Point Lance, Cuslett or St. Bride’s or anywhere on the Cape Shore and says “What’s yours like?” you can say, “Marvelous”.

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