I’ve alluded to all of the remembering that I’ve been doing recently about my days “with” Sunrise Christian Academy basketball. I’ve made a list of the memories that first pop up in my mind. There are 33 bullets on that list, so far! However, you are safe-I am not going to share all 33 with you here. You’ve already read about three of them here and on Facebook recently, so only 30! LOL! No, not really. I would like to share 5 with you, though.
The first one I will share happened seven years ago this very day. I drove down to Oklahoma City for an evening game on that Friday evening, spent the night, and then watched two SCA games the next day before going to an OU (Oklahoma University, not to be confused with UO, University of Oregon!) game that Saturday afternoon to watch Buddy Hield play. (Honestly, I really had no idea at that point who Buddy was; I was just going along with the crowd. Now I wish I’d paid more attention to the game.) My memories, though, of that weekend are from when I heard foul language flow across the gym earlier that day from the mouth of the opposing team’s coach. What made that particularly troubling to me is that we were playing another Christian private school. For privacy, I will not mention the name of the school, but I will tell you that ‘God’ was a part of their school/team name. I was shocked, and more so as I saw that our players were struggling against a team that was playing ‘dirty’ ball. You could just feel an oppressive atmosphere in the gym. So, at halftime, I decided to pray for our team. They were down at the half, and as they were running down the tunnel next to where I was sitting to go to the locker room, I hollered down to our point guard, “I’m praying for you!” And I did pray. I prayed for God to help our players continue to persevere and play as they had been taught to, in a way that would honor God. And for the first and only time, I asked God to help our boys win this game. I reasoned, “Both teams are carrying your name, Lord, but only one team is honoring you. The other team is, in fact, profaning your name. Lord, will you help Sunrise win?” When the second half started, our boys began to narrow the deficit. I felt like I could feel a different atmosphere in the gym. And when the final buzzer sounded, Sunrise was ahead!! We won!! Later, during the next game, I sat with one of the players on the Elite team who had played in the first game. I told him what had happened and what I had done. He told me that he, too, felt a different atmosphere in the gym second half!! My first Sunrise basketball memory, and I will never forget it!
Second, I’ll always remember the day that I was given a retirement gift-my own SCA jersey!! It is not possible that they could have given me anything better! I have worn it, and will continue to wear it, and it is entirely possible that I will leave word to be buried in it!
Another special memory happened last year. I was talking and joking with a student after a game and someone took our picture. The man asked my name and what was my position at the school. I told him, but had no idea that I and the student were going to end up on the front page of the Wichita Eagle the next day!
Speaking of positions, the fourth memory that I want to share with you happened during practices. My final year at Sunrise, I began to go over some days to watch our teams practice. I totally enjoyed sitting there watching them. When it began to be really interesting was when recruitment season opened, and college recruiters were also there to watch the practices. I’ll admit to being curious about who was there, but in the beginning did not dare to approach them. (I had not yet been on the front page of the Wichita Eagle, yet! LOL!) But I soon learned that they are an extroverted friendly bunch. The funniest time was when one came up to me, introduced himself, and asked what my position with the program was. Caught off guard, I am not sure now what I said. It was probably a mixture of “just an old English teacher” and “biggest fan”. After that, if I recognized the school name on their shirt, and had some talking point, I would approach them and introduce myself. I did not dare to do that to Bill Self, though. Haha! I did hate that I missed Tom Izzo, however. After the recruiters moved on, I began to use the time to sit and pray for the young men. It was a special season for me.
My fifth memory to share with you today comes from the many games that I attended when I was trying to get good photos for the players. In that process, I gained many many photos of referees’ backs! I learned that the perfect vantage point for me was also the perfect spot for them! One time when one of the men recognized me from other games and came over to chat before the game started, I laughed and asked him if we could come to some agreement as to where he was going to stand. He laughed but would not commit to one spot. LOL! Then, I remember the frustration of getting my camera lined up for a dunk only to have the player shoot a 3-pointer, or vice-versa. I cannot remember which one it was now, but I do remember asking him to give me some kind of sign as to which he was preparing to do so I’d be ready for it. It was one of those times that I got a heavy sigh, a chuckle, and a “Miss Richards!” response. Haha!
OK! That’s it for tonight! I may share some more later, in bite-sized chunks so they don’t get too long. I hope you will enjoy my reminiscing; I’m loving it!!