Shane is the fourth son that we've watched go through a high school basketball career (and he's still in the middle of his). We've enjoyed the experience for all four. This is a basketball town, big enough to draw a fair-sized fan base, small enough to not offer competing entertainment venues, and cold enough to make everyone want to be inside somewhere on the cold, dark, winter evenings.
We moved here in 1989, just in time to watch Keith's youngest brother, Keenan, play his first varsity season. We followed the Hodags faithfully during his three-year career. For the next ten years our children were growing, playing basketball on a Little Tyke's hoop in the basement, going to open gym with their dad, uncles, and cousins on Saturdays, watching Friday night home high school games, and playing on the recreational "Little Hodag" teams.
Shane, Troy, Seth, and Brett
Joey passed up the public high school on his fast track to life, but Keith took his place on the Hodag Varsity roster in 2001-02 and we've had someone playing for the team ever since. Keith, Chet, and Troy played because they enjoyed the game, the teammates, the coaches, the competition, and just being a part of Hodag basketball. They were natural athletes and contributed to the game, but not one of them hardly touched a ball after March madness. They were on to baseball.
Shane's participation in the sport is not the same. He doesn't just love to play "Hodag basketball". He loves to play basketball. On a tennis court,
in the dark, it doesn't matter when or where. He just loves to play.
So, this has been a very enjoyable high school season for Shane. The boys on the team have played well together and have improved both individually and as a team. They ended up placing 2nd in their conference with a narrow miss at tying for first. Last week they started the tournament play that takes the teams through Regionals, Sectionals, and on to the State tournament. They won both Regional games last week to take the Regional Championship and move on to Sectionals. A Hodag team hasn't made it to this level since Keith's senior year in 2004.
Everything for this team was finally coming together and they now have very high hopes for their game on Thursday against the team that led their division. I know Shane's brain has thought through the season and the upcoming game. From the tip-off
to the outside game
to the inside game
to the inevitable double teaming
to the defense
to the dunk.
Oh the dunk. And here's where the trial comes in. At last night's practice the team worked on all of the typical things they do when they prepare for a game. The practice went well. They were finished, and wrapping things up for the day. The team ritual is to end the practice on a dunk. There are only a few players who are able to finish it for them and Shane, just under 6'6", is one of them. He ended it. He grabbed the rim and hung on while scanning for the ball, he swung back and saw it, swung forward and lost it. He heard someone tell him to stop holding on and get down, and he did, and landed on the ball.
Shane spent the evening going back and forth between elevating his foot and plunging it in a large canner filled with ice water. He left the house this morning on one shoe and a pair of crutches, his basketball shoes sitting on the living room floor.
He'll put them on again on Thursday, and it's probable that he'll be on the court doing all he can to help his team. He's seen senior captain Nate give it his all under similar circumstances, and Kyle play all-out after being sick all night and he'll follow suit. He also has the words of his older brother who, at 15 suffered a season-ending injury after making the varsity baseball team, to help keep things in perspective--"This is the best place that I could be right now, because if God wanted me anywhere else, that's where I'd be."
I have no doubt that Shane will give it all he has, but that he'll also handle any adversity with dignity. In the Sectional final last Saturday, with 2 minutes to go in the game and the team barely holding onto a lead, Shane fouled out on an unquestionably erroneous call. He calmly headed to bench, sat down, and cheered on his team. I think he received as many compliments (from both teams' fans) on his attitude as he did on the game.
The games will end, but the lessons and the attitudes carry on through life. I'm confident that Shane, trusting in God, will continue with a positive attitude. I'm just hoping, and will be cheering, that the game goes on another day.