“For it is in giving that we receive.”
-St. Francis of Assisi
After helping coach our varsity girls’ basketball team to victory on Saturday afternoon, I decided to head back to school and watch the boys’ team play. They played several games already this season, but I managed to miss every one of them; so I felt like it was time to finally make an appearance and show my support. I popped some popcorn, put on my Arrupe sweatshirt, and walked across the street into the sweaty, smelly gym, fully prepared to devote the next 30 minutes to our boys’ basketball team.
“I hope they see me sitting there on the bleachers, cheering them on,” my self-righteous motive thought. As I walked in, I saw a senior girl from my basketball team sitting with her family, so I decided to sit nearby. “This is great,” I thought, “I can support the guys who are playing while making small-talk with this student so I don’t look like such a loser sitting by myself.”
At the beginning of my time chatting with Lydia, I thought I’d teach her a bit of the intricacies of basketball, using the boys on the court as examples. It quickly became apparent, however, that our conversation was not one between player and coach or even teacher to student. No, Lydia was ready to have some quality sharing time, divulging the latest, most fascinating happenings from her life to her young ASC volunteer basketball coach. She was pleased to tell me that she had a fun 18th birthday, hanging out with her family and friends. We talked about college decisions, her new boyfriend, her experience leading the Kairos retreat, and how she plans to spend Spring break (answer: college visits, of course). As I shared a few stories from my high school days, we laughed over the ironies that life can hand us. I never believed that spending 40 minutes with one student could ever pass so quickly or enjoyably.
Lydia probably has many fun conversations like ours with her friends after school or on the weekends, so it may not have been as memorable an experience for her as it was for me. But for this young ASC volunteer, connections like that are the reason I am here.
Although I initially walked into the gym that night to achieve some weird form of self-glorification for sacrificing a bit of my Saturday to support to the boys’ basketball team, I definitely received way more than my selfish motive deserved. Who knew that a bubbly, giddy teenage girl could bring such meaning and fulfillment to a Saturday night.