Quote of the Day: “We give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.” Sacred Ritual Chant
Yesterday morning, I drove to the parking lot to meet Sue O. and Cokie for our run. I immediately get a text from Sue O. that said “You look so cute today”. I look over to Sue’s car and we are wearing the exact same shirt, bright green with white sleeves. I caught Sue’s grinning face watching me. I’m so grateful for humor and Sue brings a lot of humor to my life. We ran that Tuesday with me dragging a bit behind but I kept thinking that maybe I would get some energy if I kept going, forcing myself to go forward, even a slow pace, and it worked. By they end of our run, we had logged almost 5 miles. Sometimes, you have to force yourself to feel good.
Our Tennis & Tutoring summer team matches began yesterday. I hadn’t seen the kids for 2 weeks due to court availability at Liberty Park. My last contact with them was when I dropped a flyer to their teachers the day before school ended for summer break. I don’t really have a great way to contact the students. I have forms with some phone numbers but it’s difficult because so many of their parents aren’t fluent in English and I don’t speak Spanish. But nonetheless, Katie Jensen and I arrived for a practice before the match and Esli and Jocsan were there. Yay!
We were so glad to see them and hoped that others would arrive. They didn’t. We needed 4 players for this Boys 12 team, but could have Esli, darling girl, fill in. We needed 2 other players. I looked around Liberty Park to see if I could recruit some young players. Nothing.
Then it dawned on me that I knew where one boy lived. He showed us his house when Katie and I escorted them from Lincoln Elementary to Liberty Park a few weeks before. So I set out in hopes of finding a few of my tennis boys! If I couldn’t locate Francisco at home, perhaps I could drive around the neighborhood looking for him and others. I knocked on Francisco’s door, no answer. I opened the screen door, and knocked again. As I walked back to my car, the door was opened by a young man, clearly just awoken. I asked if this was Francisco’s home to which he answered “Yes”. “Was he at home?” I asked. He replied “No, oh I mean yes, he’s asleep.” I asked if he would wake him to play tennis with us. Francisco came to the door and said “I’ll play”. Francisco is very likable and easy going. Someone in his family has taught him how to keep score in tennis. He’s told me that he knows all about love, fifteen, thirty, forty, deuce, etc. He reminds me of my son, Taylor, in that he loves sports jerseys, he was wearing a Jazz one. Now yesterday was a beautiful day, the high was in the 70’s- perfect tennis weather. I had been running around on the court, driving to find players so I was surprised when Francisco, sitting next to me in the car, started to shiver. Windows down, no air-conditioner going. Alex, Katie and I have watched our kids wear heavy coats and sweatshirts while playing tennis while we were perfectly comfortable in our tee-shirts! I am puzzled by the temperature difference.
But I had a player. We decided to drive over to Ricardo’s house in hopes that he would be Francisco’s partner. As luck would have it, we stood on Ricardo’s porch, waiting for someone to answer the door when we heard a group of kids running down the street. In a flash, Ricardo wanted to play, grabbed his racquet and we were off to the courts. I had a full team, barely.
We were able to prepare the kids as best we could for their first match, but nothing teaches like experience. Esli and Jocsan played singles. Francisco and Ricardo made up the doubles team. We lost almost every game but the Grantsville team had the experience edge. They were dressed imitating the best players on the circuit, sunglasses, necklace, logo tops and shorts. Esli was in long sweat pants, no place to hold a second ball. But our opponents were very generous in their patience towards a player who was just learning to score, discovering where to stand, and dealing with how to act when facing an opponent. Our Jocsan is a born athlete, he’s the youngest on the team, perhaps 8 or 9 and his match was competitive. When he’s away from the kids his age in TNT, he is focused and serious. But in Jocsan and Esli there is this hope because they have a Dad who got them to tennis that day, he made sure they had lunch and then watched them through the fence. All this, while his wife is expecting their fifth child any minute. And I love Ricardo’s mom, we don’t speak the same language, but I have sensed that she would do anything good for her children.
Part of me yearns to practice tennis with these kids every day. Katie and I are kindred spirits when it comes to wanting all kids to have a better life. That’s why we are so drawn to these kids. She gives them her phone number and is even friends with some on Facebook as she offers to hit with them every day. We both feel this strong pull to influence their lives while they are young, before their peers become all important.
Tennis & Tutoring Friends