Last week there was a free throw contest in town for 8-13 year old boys and girls. We wouldn't have known about it or attended, except Amanda's coach asked the team to do that instead of their regularly scheduled basketball practice.
Amanda stood on that line and tossed up air ball after air ball...0 for 25 in front of her teammates and bleachers full of fans.
When her group was finished, she walked over to me, "participation certificate" in hand, nearly in tears from the embarrassment. I hugged her, looked her in the eyes and told her how very proud I was. So proud that she gave it her best. That she stayed with it and didn't give up in the middle. And most especially because she reached out to a teammate who was sobbing because she had not made any baskets either. Amanda rubbed her back and talked her through it, being strong for this girl when really Amanda wanted to be in tears herself.
That was Tuesday. On Thursday they held a similar event, this time sponsored by Knights of Columbus and going up to age 14 so both girls and H entered. Amanda again made zero shots, Avery made several (and overcame her fear of getting up and trying in front of all those people) and both came out with their participation awards.
H competed in the 14 year old boys category and beat out the other participant to win first place. He was excited but nervous and kept glancing over to be sure we were watching. Shaun had had a really important presentation to give that evening, but made it to the gym just as H took the line.
H got a trophy, a t-shirt and an invitation to the next event in a couple weeks. He was so happy and proud...it was really beautiful to see him get a win and be celebrated for it.