Sunday, March 3, 2013

Giving It Your Best Shot

When my sister-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer several years ago, family members pitched in however they could.  First up?  The food train. 

You guys remember my deficiency in the kitchen, right?  I'm not exactly Julia Child.  I bowed out and turned over meal preparation to my husband.  I hope my sister-in-law remembers this generous act of kindness in my avoiding accidentally killing her with whatever recipe I was bound to screw up.    

Next up, there was a call for drivers.  This I could do. After all, I was a semi-professional chauffeur given the number of different schools, sports, and instruments I forced upon my kids. So I pulled up one morning to drive my niece Megan, a freshman in high school, to class.

For those unfamiliar with teenagers, conversations with high schoolers usually involve one or two word responses, particularly when said conversations are occurring in the wee hours of the crack of dawn:

Marianne:  Hey there, Meg!  Sheesh it's cold.  Can you believe this weather?  I'd better start packing some long underwear and extra hats for the boys!  It's like we're living in the tundra.

Megan:  Uh huh.

Marianne:  Um...so how's school going?  Getting straight A's, right?  Do you like your classes this year?  How about your teachers?  Do you have nice teachers?

Megan:  Yup.

Marianne:  Well then, did you eat breakfast?  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day...gets you firing on all four cylinders.  Why, starting a day without breakfast is like not filling your lungs with air in the morning, it's just that important!

Megan:  Mmm hmm.

As we headed south on I-57 to get to Marian Catholic High School, I suddenly wondered why Megan had chosen the school.  With so many options closer to home, why Marian Catholic?  And that was when my niece lit up like a Christmas tree.  She talked excitedly about the school's fantastic basketball program, coaches, and players.

As a person with limited athleticism and moderate interest in sports, even I could not help but enjoy Megan's obvious love of the game.  It was contagious.

That little freshman I drove to school so many years ago is now a senior basketball standout.  She also speaks quite well and has dropped the two-syllable responses. Over the last few years, Megan has shown great presence and potential on-court and off.  She is also a loving and kind cousin to my boys.  But then came this weekend.

Marian Catholic High School won the Illinois State Basketball Championship:

Photo credit: Mary Walsh
It wasn't an easy victory with Marian playing a very evenly matched Rolling Meadows High School.  With the final seconds ticking down, Marian was losing by a point.  There was an inbound.  A missed shot.  Another missed shot.

I stopped watching.  My eyes locked on the game clock.

It wound down to zero.

And at that exact same moment, the crowd erupted as one final buzzer-beating shot pushed through.

Being a mom, I of course felt disappointed for the fantastic girls from Rolling Meadows who played with great skill and heart.  Yet being a proud aunt, I was delighted to see how one of Megan's earliest "big" decisions, one made at fourteen years of age, had panned out.  She could have easily attended Mother McAuley or Marist, the "comfortable" choices.  These were the schools where most of her friends were attending.  Yet her devotion to her game, her love of her sport, and her desire to win took her somewhere else.  Megan chose the road less travelled. 

And it has made all the difference.

Jack's early-morning drawing of his cousin.

Congrats to Marian Catholic and the only niece I have who I can look to borrow clothes from one day.  My heart is still in my throat, but what a ride!  Thank you for also teaching my boys where hard work and drive can lead you.  You are an inspiration!

33 comments:

  1. Oh, another wonderful tribute to your family! I love it. These are such treasures. I'm not even in your family, and I feel the love!

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    1. I'd totally adopt you, Jennifer. Thank you!

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  2. Very nice Marianne!!! What a game indeed!!!!

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    1. Thank you! I'm so glad we were able to be there!

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  3. I get goose bumps just reading about games like this! Congratulations Megan! :)

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    1. I think goose bumps would have been better - the game took about 7 years off my life! Thanks, Larissa!

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  4. Awesome!Our friends' daughter is a senior this year and we've missed only two games...regionals this weekend. We are so caught up in the thrill...
    "I like Slam dunks take me to the hoop
    My favorite play is the alley oop
    I like the pick-and-roll, I like the give-and-go,
    Cause it's Basketball, uh, Mister Kurtis Blow"
    (Please tell me you know this one? If not google it and laugh your butt off at the video...soooooo 80's)

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    1. Googling now...

      I saw that NY boys' semifinals game with the shot from half court on Sunday - what a wild finish! It's been one crazy basketball season, no?

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  5. p.s. Congratulations Megan!!!!!

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  6. Replies
    1. Thanks, Kellie - I'll pass that along!

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  7. congrats to the team and Megan's achievements with it!!!

    betty

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    1. Such a great group of girls - thanks, Betty!

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  8. Oh I hope that Megan reads this. This is a lovely tribute to her and her talents. :)

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    1. Thanks, Lily! She is such a nice girl - we're so lucky to have her in our lives!

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  9. Replies
    1. I wish I knew how to make all those cyber-faces, ESB! Thank you!

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    2. :
      ^ is shift 6
      ) is shift 0

      Experiment!
      :^)
      ;^)
      :^@
      :')
      :^!
      ....Sorry, I should not have drawn that last one smoking a cigarette ...

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  10. You are not bad as a sports announcer, Marianne, but probably better as as aunt.

    I love being an aunt and pretend at being a bastketball player wearing a jacket that says "Plant City Basketball--14". One day I may meet the real #14 who gave the jacket to the Goodwill.

    Hugs,
    AC (for Aunt Carol) also known as "The Lime Green Aunt"

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    1. You're lime green? I'm a decided shade of mango. Being an aunt is awesome! I couldn't be prouder!

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  11. Congrats to your niece, Marianne. Tell her to hold on to this moment. When I was a senior in high school, my basketball team won the Ohio state championship. That was over two decades ago, but I still count that experience up there as one of the most thrilling of my life (and I have had a pretty wonderful life so far). The teamwork it takes to get there, the feeling of support and community that stems from it, the pride - it's all very significant and memorable.

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    1. Congrats to you, too, Shannon! Even after 20 years, it's still an accomplishment worth celebrating! Your point is so timely, my husband and I were saying the same thing: Megan will have this for the rest of her life - definitely worth holding onto. Thank you for sharing!

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  12. thanks so much marianne.!!! i really do appreciate it.!! :)

    xoxo
    Meg

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    1. It's been my pleasure, shorty! Thanks for adding so much excitement in between loads of laundry! xoxo Aunt Mar

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  13. What a great post! Congrats to your niece and her whole team!!!

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  14. This is such a great story about doing what you love and hard work and sacrifice. I love Jack's drawing too...he obviously adores his cousin!

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  15. My sister played in high school, then went on to college to play. Then, she coached high school ball for years and years. Needless to say, I've watched a lot of girls basketball and I LOVE it! What a great accomplishment!
    (I am SO copying that hairstyle from Jack's picture!)

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    1. Copying? I already have that hairstyle. I'm so fashion-forward. I never knew girls basketball could be THIS exciting! I envy your sis & you!

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  16. That is so unbelievably awesome! I will live vicariously through you, since my son is on a city league team that hasn't won a single game this season. And by hasn't won, I mean there have been scores like 40 to 3. Congrats to your neice. I'll be watching for her in the WNBA!

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    1. Ouch. But your son's team has nowhere to go but up, right? You're a good mom for braving those games, my mom used to do the same for very dismal seasons of various sports. Gets you to heaven.

      Thanks for reading & commenting, Danelle!

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  17. Such a cool post! Having teenagers to be proud of this day and age is an accomplishment within itself. So kudos to your niece.
    Love the one word sentence description. So true!

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