so, as you may know, basketball season is here. i am so excited i can barely contain it. i will probably talk about it a lot, so if you hate basketball then i apologize, but most of it probably won't even be about the sport itself so just bear with me. such as this post, which will be about one of my favorite girls in the world. but she wasn't always one of my favorite girls. actually, you could even go as far as to say that i was not fond of her. but i will explain.
back in the '06-'07 Wake Christian basketball season, my first year of helping my dad coach, the girls made it to the state championship for the second year in a row. that year they won. it was a wonderful day to say the least. they played against Grace Christian School, who had a history of great basketball teams. they also had a middle schooler on their varsity team with long brown hair and a killer 3-point shot. she was impressive, especially for someone who wasn't even in high school yet.
fast forward a couple years to the '08-'09 season. the Wake girls are in the state championship for the fourth year in a row. the pressure is on, and the Buffaloe who runs the court is working towards leading her team to a 3-peat. everyone is on edge from the game that was barely won the night before. Dad does his pre-game devotion and turns his attention on what the focus is for the big game. offensively: run our stuff, do what we know. defensively: tight pressure, and don't you dare let LBPT shoot a 3. who or what in the world is LBPT you may ask, and that is a great question. well Dad has a habit of giving little nicknames to opposing teams' best players. nothing ugly or demeaning, just something descriptive to call them when he's telling his players to be in their shorts. on this state championship day, it is "LBPT" - Long Braided Pony Tail. yes, the guard with the long brown hair and the automatic 3-pointer is back in her sophomore year. and every break, time-out, and at halftime, Dad is drawing the letters LBPT on his worn out dry erase board, circling them a million times in his exaggerated way, emphasizing not to let this girl shoot. well, to make a long story short, whatever they did that day worked. the Wake girls came out victorious yet again, due to three awesome seniors and a season of hard work. and we left LBPT to be faced again the next year.
(LBPT - #12 in the background)
that summer, as we are discussing the upcoming season and how to prepare for it, my dad drops a bomb on me.
"So...you remember LBPT from Grace, right? The one who shoots the 3's?"
"Um...yeah. You only said that acronym about four thousand times during the championship game. I was not likely to forget."
"Oh, yeah. Right." (Dad is often unaware of his sarcastic exaggerations, so i tend to point them out for him with my own sarcastic exaggeration. like father like daughter.)
"What about her? Is she still in the 8th grade and we just didn't know it?"
"No, she's actually a junior this year believe it or not. And she's going to play for us."
i was floored. excuse me? play for WHO? us as in Wake Christian? on our team? with our girls? no way. you must be out of your ever living mind. well i didn't say all those things but i sure did think them. this kind of thing just does NOT happen in our conference. it was weird and i didn't know how it would work. but we were both just going to have to wait for it all to unfold.
so summer workouts started and LBPT showed up. i found out she had an actual name: Faith. Faith from Grace. that kind of confused me for some reason. i kept wanting to call her Grace. she was quiet but nice. Katherine overwhelmed her with loud bubbly comments, Brittany welcomed her sweetly, and Suzanne gave her a nod or some other G-like gesture. and so it began.
Faith came to almost every summer workout, practicing her 3's and being consistent. but it became clear to us that she could be used for so much more than just 3's. why just stick her in the corner or on the wing? we needed to utilize every ability she had. so we worked with her and tried to get her ready for the upcoming season. she was nice, quiet, coachable. things were going smoothly, but she still felt like a stranger to me.
then the season came. at first, it started out with Faith making little comments here and there. throwing in a word about whatever ridiculous statement Katherine was making. saying something to make Emily laugh her booming laugh she's known for. challenging Suzanne herself. woah. this Faith girl has quite the personality or so it seemed. little had we known that over the next few weeks, we would learn that Faith is a feisty, hilarious, firecracker of a girl. maybe she had been holding back. maybe she knew that if she showed up at Wake armed with witty comments and awesome dance moves, we would be in too much awe. so she waited and let us in a little bit at a time.
Autumn, me, and Faith after the Bulldog Classic
Faith and Katherine with their 5hr energys!
yes, she hits 3's for us. she still has a long, braided ponytail. she also plays excellent defense and drives to the basket with the presence of a 6 foot 2 girl. but that's not why we love her. we love her because she's become such a huge part of our team. our family. it seems like she always has been a part of it. i cannot imagine the team without Faith. she's a senior now, and a leader. a teammate who inspires others to play harder and to keep going even when they think they can't do it. she consistently lifts our spirits and makes basketball fun.
God's plans surprise me sometimes. Faith has been one of those surprises. and i could not be more thankful that He wanted her on our team and in our lives. it is evident that she belongs with us. our basketball family would not be complete without our little Faithers. i dread the day that she moves on from Wake Christian. we only got to have her for 2 years! it's not fair. can't we just hold onto her a little bit longer? but God knew that 2 years was all we needed to fall in love with #24. she's going to have to go spread her amazing personality and testimony with the world. and i'm going to have to let her go.
i'm so blessed to have Faith Simpson in my life. and so is the team. so whenever you see her hitting 3's or popping up on dance videos, just know that she is a special gift we never thought we'd have. and that now, we couldn't live without.
i love you, Faithers.
the seniors: Meredith, Nicole, Katie L, Suzanne, Faith, and Katie R