more lessons from basketball camp

basketball hoop

Written by Sandra Heska King

PRAY EDITOR "Once a nurse, always a nurse," they say. But now I spend my days with laptop and camera in tow as I look for the extraordinary in the ordinary. I'm a Michigan gal, mom to two, grandmom to two, and wife to one. My husband and I live on 50 acres in the same 150-plus-year-old farmhouse he grew up in. I love this quote by Mary Oliver, "Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it." That's how I want to live. And I'm still learning how to be. Still.

August 6, 2013

basketball hoop


She was a rising third grader back then when she signed up for her first basketball camp at school.

Back when she considered giving up.

Now Grace is a rising sixth grader with three years of practice and games under her belt. She’s signed up for a week of McCracken camp.

And she’s fired up.

She tells the girl across the street she can’t play Sunday afternoon because she has to “train” for camp the next morning. So she shoots some baskets, then runs down the road and back, shoots some more.

“Grandma, can you come out and bounce me some passes?”

So I go outside and bounce the ball, and she turns and dribbles and fakes a pass and shoots. Then I get low and get in her face. I steal the ball and shoot.

“Grandma! You made it!”

I shoot again. “My form’s not so good.”

She agrees. “But you’re sixty-five years old!”

“Sixty-four,” I correct her. “Sixty-FOUR.”

When we come in, she sets out her new bright orange shoes with the yellow laces, her orange and black socks, and her aqua and orange sandals.

And come cool sunshine morning, we head south several miles–far enough that I decide to hang around for seven hours rather than drive back and forth. Besides, Grace likes an audience.

I’m glad I can do all this so my daughter can stay home with the younger grandgirl–even though I should be home writing this post.

I slouch on a metal bleacher amid backpacks and bags and sweatshirts and  lunch boxes and sacks and water bottles and jugs and a rainbow of Gatorades. The gym echoes with the bounces of fifty plus balls until it’s time for the kids to hold the noise for the first instructions.

And as I listen throughout the morning, I take notes because these things the camp director is saying, they make me sit up straight and take note.

1. Always be ready to play. Stay low, and keep your head up. Your body follows your head.

2. There’s so much about the game you can’t control. The referee might make a bad call. Your coach might pull you out. The ball may refuse to go into the basket. But you have complete control over how hard you play.

3. Once you jump, get right back into ready position.

4. You will make mistakes. Let them go. What’s the next play?

5. Focus on the target.

6. Be the best you can be, whether the visible star player or the twelfth person on the bench.

7. Don’t make free throws harder than than they need to be. Take a deep breath. Dribble three times. Then shoot.

8. Hang in and play on through noisy distractions.

9. You have to listen to your coach and do what you’re told even if it sounds crazy.

Can you draw any spiritual applications from these notes? Do they remind you of any scriptures?

hoop lifetime







  1. Patricia W Hunter

    LOVE it, Sandra! And some think scripture isn’t relevant for today! They obviously haven’t met Grace’s basketball camp director. Love how God gave you the words for this post while you were there for Grace – when you thought you should be at home writing it. God is so good to us – redeeming our time when we’re obedient to the Holy Spirit’s nudgings to do something contrary to human wisdom. Good words, my friend.

    • Sandra Heska King

      Who says you can’t see or hear God in a sweaty gym in words never humanly designed to point to Him? 🙂

  2. marthaorlando

    Just goes to show that we can find God anywhere and in any thing when we choose to pay attention.
    Wonderful post, Sandra!

    • Sandra Heska King

      “. . . when we choose to pay attention.” It *is* a choice. And it takes a lot of letting go to let Him in.

  3. Barbara Isaac Croce

    the first one is the one that got me… your body follows your head. He is the lifter of my head today. And my body will follow. Thank you!

    • Sandra Heska King

      Oh, amen, Barbara. And I’m guessing that what we put in our head makes a difference in how we hold it, too. 😉

  4. Megan Willome

    Sports is a great place to learn (or relearn) those lessons. I’ve been playing around for years with a something-or-other called, “Everything I Needed to Know About Parenthood I Learned From Theater.”

    • Sandra Heska King

      I’d love to see that, Megan! Lines, drama, sets, costumes… I’m thinking you could find a lot of lessons in there.

  5. dukeslee

    You’ve still got it at 64. (And I still think you’re 50.)

  6. Rachael

    #4 grace grace grace…So thankful for grace that picks me back up and gives me courage and strength keep going! I am sure glad you went to the camp…we all would have missed an important lesson. Love, Rachael @ Inking the Heart

    • Sandra Heska King

      Me, too! I thought about grace in connection with #7, too. How this game of life could be so much more simple if we just leaned into His grace. We don’t have to earn it–just breathe it in.

  7. Karin Deaver

    All of these are so good. I am at the “Listen to your coach” part. And what he said to do is backwards from everything I imagined he’d say and it’s brought about huge life changes for me. I am finding that my team mates are very helpful with all of their encouragements when the unfamiliar is hard to stay in. This was a fun post. Thanks for sharing!


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more lessons from basketball camp

by Sandra Heska King time to read: 2 min