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The stay-at-home dad: March madness - worst player in camp

by TYLER WILSON/Coeur Voice contributor
| March 20, 2021 1:00 AM

Athleticism eludes my oldest daughter.

Even at a young age, she preferred art projects over playgrounds. While she enjoyed cheerleading camp and dances around the house like a crazy person, most other types of coordinated physical activity requires extra effort on her part.

Basically, I’m saying she’s clumsy, and that’s totally fine. Her dad was never the star player on any sports team. I played right field and batted ninth, okay?

She loves shooting hoops though, and she’s spent the better part of her school-age years trying to master the basics of dribbling, passing, etc. It’s been a long road, however, and it all started with a basketball camp she attended in kindergarten.

The camp, which included probably 100 or more kids up through third grade, ran once-a-week over a couple of months Out of all those kids, my daughter lagged behind every single one of them. Clearly, most of these kids had at least some experience with a basketball. The ball we bought for the class was probably the first regular size one she ever touched.

At least six or seven times per session, the kids lined up on the edge of the gym, ball in hand. The coach’s whistle blew, and the kids jogged and dribbled to the opposite end.

By the time every other kid made it to the other side, my daughter crossed midcourt.

She was so focused on achieving a perfect dribble. She’d hunch over the ball and cautiously slap the ball into the ground. It seemed like she was aiming for a specific, half-inch dot on the ball with every strike.

I sat in the bleachers and clapped for her every time. None of the other parents said anything, but I swear I could feel a few eyeballs burning against the back of my head. One dad wearing a Yankees hat uttered something under his breath once, but I’ll chalk that up to the constant hatred and harassment us Minnesota Twins fans regularly receive from the Bronx Bomber Bullies.

My daughter didn’t excel at many other drills, either. For passing practice, she spent most of her time chasing after the ball she failed to catch. For shooting, well… a lot of the kids couldn’t get the ball to reach the hoop, including the kid of that Yankees fan. Boom! Big city broadcast revenue can’t buy everything!

Over the course of the camp, my daughter never got frustrated or upset. She’d even joke about not being as fast as the other kids. “I just go at my own pace,” she’d say.

It wasn’t until moments before her final session - a “skills performance” at halftime of a high school game, that she started thinking negatively about the experience.

“I don’t want to go. I’m not as good as the other kids.”

We told her she could stay home if she really didn’t want to go. My wife and I believe that our kids should make choices about what they consider valuable. BUT. We told her that she’d been working so hard, had a positive attitude the whole time and seemed to genuinely enjoy participating in the camp, despite being a step or two or ten behind the other kids.

“I do like it. And I have gotten better,” she said.

So she chose to go to the performance, took up the rear as usual, and had a great time. I don’t care what that Yankees fan says, I was proud of her. In fact I don’t think anyone has ever been so proud of something so inept.

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Tyler Wilson is a freelance writer and a stay-at-home dad to four kids, ages 3-9. He is tired. He can be reached at twilson@cdapress.com.