My oldest son is one of the best, most natural athletes I've ever seen. Probably could have excelled in any sport. In fact, one summer at a football camp at Samford University here in B'ham, Rush Probst (the head coach at Hoover High) saw Dane play some and commented on the radio, "that quarterback from Moody has the most potential of any high school quarterback I've ever seen." Not a bad endorsement! But after two ACL surgeries resulting from football he decided to retire from the game.
But not to worry ... basketball was and always has been his true love. He was the varsity starting point guard as a 9th grader. Because of the first knee injury he missed his entire sophmore year; the second time he missed half of his junior year. Yet he still fought through rehab and ended up having a strong high school career; in his senior year leading Moody to the state playoffs for the first time in a number of years.
He was recruited to play college ball at a few places - nowhere really significant - he'd missed too much in high school and had a questionable knee. But he did end up going to Huntingdon College in Montgomery to play and was one of only two freshmen to make the varsity team that year ... was probably going to be the 2nd team point guard until he broke his foot a couple of weeks before the season began!
For various reasons Dane decided to transfer to Covenant College after his freshman year. The shocking thing was that he was even willing to risk giving up basketball. He was transferring to a school that already had their team in place for the following year and Dane wasn't even on their radar! But he made that choice.
As a parent I couldn't have been more pleased! Covenant is the official college of our denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America. I knew Dane would have the opportunity to develop some strong relationships there and as well as be taught from a Biblical perspective and worldview. But I also wanted Dane to play ball - I knew how much he loved the game and how much fun I've always had watching him play.
Well, in God's providence Covenant just happened to start a JV team Dane's sophmore year and he did get to play ... not at the level of competition he wanted, but he was playing nonetheless. That just seemed to be a fun thing to do for a year - he really wasn't even that interested in playing JV ball again. And with his junior year shaping up to be incredibly hard academically, he came to the realization that he would be a spectator this year. Again, in God's providence, the new coach at Covenant saw Dane play early in the school year, commented that he "could hold his own" on the court, and asked him to play on the varsity team if he was academically eligible for the second semester. So Dane studied hard, went to every basketball practice just to sit and learn the new system, and also learned how to balance his time between ball and academics.
Dane is now a member of the Covenant basketball team! He doesn't get a lot of playing time but he is doing what he loves to do.
To me this is a story of God's grace shown through my son's perseverance, dedication, determination, and desire. A teammate of his recently told Dane,
"Just wanted to let you know that I continue to appreciate your attitude towards ball and even towards life in general. You are an encouragement to me. You are bearing fruit...evidence of the Spirit's work in your life. It's fun to see."
It also shows God's grace demonstrated through the doctrine of vocation. God calls and gifts each one of His children to do something, to be a part of His big plan of redemption, to work toward the renewal of all things He has created. God made the game of basketball to be played and enjoyed in order that humans might get a taste of the goodness of God ... that God's pleasure in Himself might spill over into those who play the game and that they might also feel His pleasure. I'm grateful that God has given Dane the opportunity to play a little longer - I'm grateful that God is allowing Dane to feel His pleasure and be a part of redeeming the game for the sake of Christ's eternal Kingdom.
playing ball for Jesus,
btw, if we do get to play basketball in heaven (which I'm pretty sure we will be able to do), I want to be on Dane's team.
One more thing - tonight I'm going to Ragland to watch Yates' Jr. High basketball team play in the county tournament. Do you suppose the above story will be repeated in some manner?