Tags Posts tagged with "Teammates"


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We are all proud of our children. It’s part of the perks of becoming a parent. We beam when they can walk, we celebrate what they say. We applaud their gold stars on their homework sheets, positive comments from their teachers, and their contributions to transformative musical performances that echo long in our minds.

Recently, I attended one of my daughter’s volleyball matches. She is on a new team and I didn’t know most of the other players. As soon as the first set started, it was clear that two of the girls were the leaders, covering tremendous ground to get to a ball, setting the ball from impossible distances to the net, and flying high in the air to spike a ball onto an open spot on the floor.

These two girls were inspiring their teammates with their play, even as they seemed to demand more from themselves with each set.

During the downtime between sets, parents came over to share congratulations, to offer apple slices, and to step away from the loud gym where other girls and their parents were screaming at and applauding each point.

Recognizing this will be a long season and that we’re in this together, I started chatting with several of the other parents, especially when all the children dove headlong into their cellphones during their downtime.

“My daughter is No. 7,” said a beaming woman whose daughter was about 4 inches taller than she was.

“Great,” I nodded appreciatively. “How long did it take you to drive here?”

The conversations were fairly mundane until one of the fathers of the two stronger players shared a plug to charge his iPhone.

“Your daughter is a great player,” I acknowledged.

“Thanks,” he said with a smile. “She’s a survivor.”

“Excuse me?” I asked.

“Yes, she had cancer when she was 1 year old. The pediatrician was doing a routine exam and found something. We sent her for tests and, sure enough, she had cancer.”

“Wow,” I said, stunned that the conversation wasn’t about the weather, if a ball was in or out in the last set, or what we should all do for dinner if we had to stay much longer.

“We went to a bunch of doctors and, finally, we decided to have surgery. Good thing we did, because it was malignant,” he offered.

She probably doesn’t remember it, I thought, because she was too young.

“She actually got cancer again when she was 6, and had to have surgery and chemo when they found out it was malignant again,” he said.

“She’s recovered well,” I admired.

She isn’t particularly tall, but she flies around the court, setting the ball from almost any angle without ever seeming to tire.

“Oh, yeah, well, she goes for testing regularly now, just to be sure,” he said.

She volunteers at a hospital where other children have cancer. She encourages other children and tells them that she knows how they feel. When they seem to doubt it, she shows them a copy of a picture in his wallet of his two daughters when they were 8 and 6. The older girl towers over the younger one, who is impossibly thin and bald.

Looking into this father’s face, I could see that he wasn’t only proud of the difficult journey his daughter had taken but he was inspired. So, too, as it turns out is someone else in the family.

“Yeah,” he said with a nod. “It’s why her older sister is now going to school to become a nurse.”