I play basketball.
I won most improved player.
I earned a medal.
Mom says a slam dunk.
I am getting stronger now.
I dribble and shoot!
Lil' Expert has just finished his first season of basketball. At the beginning of the season, he had trouble dribbling and was unable to hit the basket with the ball. He was afraid of the ball. If he got the ball in a game, he would immediately pass it to another player as fast as he could.
Fast forward to Saturday's pizza party after the last game. The coach had all the kids gathered together to give out medals and pictures. He announced he had a special award for one player. Lil' Expert got the award for being the most improved player on the team. The prize was 550 tickets to redeem for prizes at the pizza place's prize counter. He was so proud and excited about the prize tickets. Of course, being his Asperger's collecting self he spent the tickets mostly on prizes ranging from 5 to 15 tickets instead of any large ticket items. This meant a long time deliberating at the prize counter, and a large bag of prizes!
Lil' Expert's coach was fabulous. He pushed and challenged him, but he was also fast with encouragement and hugs after the game. As I have mentioned before, Lil' Expert can have social problems. There were times when my son got into trouble and had to run laps. I wanted to step in and protect him. I wanted to explain it was his disability and intervene. I kept my mouth shut, and Lil' Expert rose to the occasion. This has been the most successful sports experience he's ever had.
My other son, Storytellin' Boy also played basketball. Well, he started to play until we pulled him from the team after the first game. His coach took the game very seriously, even though it was a bunch of five year olds running willy nilly around the basketball court. The league did not even keep score during these games.
Storytellin' Boy has his head in the clouds most of the time, and basketball was no different. During his one and only game, he did not really follow the action and was often in the wrong place at the wrong time. My goal would be for him to learn to be on a team, learn the fundamentals of basketball, and have a positive experience during the practices and games. Hopefully, he would learn to run in the right direction when his team had the ball by the end of the season.
His coach had other plans. She spent most of the game yelling his name, and occasionally would yank his shirt in the direction she wanted him to go. I don't mind a little redirection, believe me he needs it, but this coach really screamed at him. She screamed at other kids on the team as well. He did not respond to this, and seemed paralyzed like a deer in headlights. After the game another parent on the team approached me and said, "I didn't like the way the coach was yelling at your kid during the game."
I talked to the coach in a very diplomatic way, but she was very defensive. I don't think she understood my perspective and I probably didn't understand hers. During the game, she yelled at her own daughter (also a five year old), "Your playing like a girl." It's a coed team and her daughter is a girl!
In many circumstances, I believe in sticking it out. I know my kids will eventually have to learn to tolerate difficult people. In this instance, I really felt the negativity outweighed the positives. My son is five. I hope that playing sports will build his confidence and self-esteem. We decided quitting the basketball team would be best for Storytellin' Boy.
Two different teams, two different coaches, and two totally different experiences. I am sure there will be many more sports and coaches to contend with in the years to come.