Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Looking Upward

Upward Basketball was a big part of our family when Noah was little.  A positive sports experience with a spiritual background, it was a wonderful way for him to be introduced to basketball.  He started playing in first grade, with his Dad as coach, and a very special person as the assistant.

His big brother, Austin, helped coach Upward that year. Initially, I was somewhat concerned, because Austin was young himself, and we didn't know if the church would even agree. Thankfully they did and it was a blessing for so many reasons...
Together they coached Noah's team through a perfect season. I was touched by how generous and motivating Austin was. The boys enjoyed having him and learned so much that year.

Austin continued to "coach" Noah for any sport he played. He was always there on the sidelines, rooting for him or pushing him further because he knew Noah could do it.  When we lost Austin, sports seemed to be put on pause.  Noah had a hard time being on the field because baseball was such a huge reminder of his brother.  In fact, he took a break for several seasons, not coming back to that game until this past year. 

With basketball, it helped Noah transition because of where the game was played.  By 2009, he'd outgrown Upward and moved into school sports.  Sadly, we had no memories of Austin cheering from the stands at a school game, but that made it easier for him to continue on the court.

Cheering for Noah the past few years has brought us so much joy.  Our "little" big guy has grown in the sport, his defensive game improving as his size increased each year.  Normally the tallest kid on the court, "Brickwall Blair" dominated and we'd chuckle overhearing comments from some of his smaller opponents.

Now in middle school, we were all disappointed when he didn't make the team last month.  We knew going in it would be difficult, as multiple elementary teams merge into competition for one small group.  Knowing his passion for the game, I needed to find a way to keep him involved.  Not wanting to travel, remembering our season in AAU, a friend mentioned Upward. 

When my little guy was still little

Upward for middle school?  It didn't seem possible from what I remembered of our timid, non-competitive, seasons past.  Noah joked that he really wasn't interested in playing for stickers anymore. 

Last night was his evaluation and we were all thrilled to see the growth and change in the sport.  I think it will be the perfect mix of competition, improving his skill set, laced with the positivity and uplifting spirit that is Upward.  We're excited for the season.

During evaluation they randomly called boys up and placed a numbered sticker on their back, which would help the coaches score and rank them as they played.  These scores would later be used to form teams.  Goosebumps covered both Tim and my arms, when #23 was patted onto Noah.  Our special number symbolizing Austin.  As he always does, Austin was sending hugs from Heaven, letting all of us know he would also be there this season, cheering from above in the best seats in the house.


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