Yes he did! Within a few short months of that first basketball match, The Boy had been spotted by the Regional Squad Coach. He wanted him to come try out for the squad, attend the training sessions, meet the other kids who would be trying out too.
He was elated! He was flying high now, wheelchair basketball was his passion, his heart, his life and it was all that he talked about. Gone the little boy dreams of acting and dancing, gone the black place where he had found himself through their demise. Gone the shadowy figure of despair, to be gloriously replaced by the boy in full colour, determination and hope and happiness shining from him. He filled my heart up with joy.
He was selected! OF COURSE HE WAS!!! The Boy was now a proud team member of the Under 15’s Regional Squad and oh my goodness did he find his focus!
I remembered a conversation we had after the argument with the physio Ms J who called me a silly woman, yes that one. Silly bint. Anyway…
After we had returned home that day the boy had been inconsolable. He thought he was worthless because he was disabled and he shouted at me, ‘I’m BROKEN, just BROKEN! I can’t do anything can I, cos I’m DISABLED!’
After I had calmed him down I broke it down for him so he could cope with the word ‘disabled’ and I gave him some new ways of thinking about it. I told him he wasn’t broken, he wasn’t ‘disabled’, he was The Boy first and he had limited abilities.
He asked me what I meant, and I said this, ‘If you have a dream you want to make happen, that’s where your limit lies until you reach that dream, and then you reset your limit for your next dream. You can overcome anything if you set your mind to it and focus.’
He asked me then, ‘Where is my limit, Mum?’
And I said quite simply, ‘The sky.’
He was so happy to come out of the darkness of that ‘you’re disabled’ statement!
Well, as you know, he reached his dream limit for dancing and acting, and then he crashed back down to earth for a year. After a little while of picking himself up, dusting himself off and starting again, he now had a new limit to reach. He wanted to win Gold with his Junior Squad at the National Championships!
All of the kids on that squad were of the same mind, There is only GOLD nothing else will do. Coming second was not an option for them.
That Junior National Championships lit a fire in the boy and it glowed bright. The Phoenix had risen indeed. He was determined and focused and he channeled all of his energy into becoming the best Forward wheelchair basketball player he could be.
I can’t paint the images sufficiently with words to be able to show you that day. I wish I could. I was bursting with pride when the boy and his squad wheeled out onto the court for the final! They meant business, hearts and minds all on the same page, the coach was giving them their final instructions and then he told them to get out there and bring home the Gold!
The referee held the ball and The Boy sat in centre court facing his opponent for the Tip Off. He caught the ball, the game was ON!
Oh my god! I was so hoarse from screaming and chanting, and making such a godawful racket that people were giving me sideways glances and side stepping out of my way as I ran up and down the court side cheering my boy and our team on! I am a MAD woman at his games. We were in the final 4 seconds of the game. The score was 44 – 43 to the opposition. The boy was fouled while attempting a shot! REFEREE!!!
The ref blew his whistle, and a foul was called. It put the Boy in the ‘D’ for two shots at the basket worth 1 point per shot.
He positioned his chair, he bounced the ball twice, he took a deep breath and brought the ball up into shooting position, as it left his hands and hit the backboard right on the sweet spot, the ball dropped, ran around the rim of the basket in a little victory dance and then dropped, SWISH through the net! 44 – 44! He had evened the score.
Now pressure was on the boy’s head, this could be the winning shot, the difference between Gold and Silver was riding on it.
The ball came back to him, his teammates broke out of formation to come and pat him on the back, fist bump him, encourage him.
He smiled, he re-positioned his chair, he bounced the ball twice and he steadied his shooting arm. He brought the ball up to shooting position and let that ball fly through the air….
THAT SHOT LASTED FOR AN HOUR!!!!
FINALLY! It hit the sweet spot on the backboard and dropped straight through the NET!
OMG OMG OMG!!!!! 45 – 44 HE HAD SCORED!!! OMG OMG!!!!
THAT’S MY BOY!!!!! THAT’S MY BOY!!!! THAT’S MY BOY!!!!
The ball went out to the back court line and was thrown in by the opposition as they got it to half court the buzzer went and the whistle blew. THE GAME WAS OVER!!!!
We had WON GOLD!
Trust me, I have no words to describe the roar that went up from the parents and families of our regional squad. Not just us though, the Ball hall was packed to the rafters with every team who had taken part in the competition and their families and friends. The cheering and whooping and hollering that went on was IMMENSE!
The atmosphere in that ball hall was as electric as any Paralympic wheelchair basketball final!
Our regional under 15’s squad had won their inaugural GOLD on their first ever championships and they were overwhelmed by what they had achieved.
After the match, the kids slid from their chairs onto the court and we all sat in a circle, hugging and laughing and crying! The boy sat next to me and wrapped his big arms around me and whispered, I haven’t reached my limit yet Mum, I want to play for the GB Men’s Squad. That’s where my limit is set!
Did I cry? Damned right I did! That conversation had been some 3 years before and he had remembered it. He had been using it from the day it was uttered right through to that day and intended it to be his mantra for the rest of his life.
And for the very first time, his father had seen him play. He had attended the National Championships, because, well, the boy might win?
If they ever turned coat tail riding into a sport, that man would win his own gold medal.
Nevermind, it didn’t detract one iota from the Boy’s fantastic first time out as a Regional Under 15’s squad member and now a NATIONAL CHAMPION!!
THAT’S MY BOY OF WHOM I AM MOST PROUD!!
All photos/images are courtesy of the Internet except the Trophy Cabinet, that belongs to the Boy.