Very much unlike me, he's a sports nut who has been playing in one form of organized basketball or another since he's been five. It's the sport he loves above all others, and he plays year round, from hot summer days to icy weekends.
He juggles hoops with baseball and football. Thankfully for him, we're not biologically related. I'm still learning how to dribble.
At this time of the year, he plays on two or three different teams, so he gets around. And let me tell you, there are some very gifted young athletes in the Lehigh Valley. I've seen ten and eleven year-olds from Allentown who could probably hang with some high school teams.
This year, one of the teams Dat (that's my grandson's name) is playing for is the Notre Dame Hoops, where he goes to school. It's a CYO production, coached by Emil Giordano. (Giordano is also a Northampton County judge in his spare time). Dat loves it because he's finally playing with his own classmates. Kids like Grant Hershman, grandson of none other than the Allentown Watchdog, Lou.
Last Saturday, they faced a very good team from Saucon Valley. The game itself was exciting and fun to watch, but what stunned me was what happened before the game. In five years of watching Dat play three different sports, I had never seen it.
Coach Giordano matter-of-factly called the boys together, chewing gum like the jock he is, and suddenly suggested they recite a little prayer. They all dropped to their knees, crossed themselves, and recited the Hail Mary or something. While they did this, Dat looked into the crowd for his mom, and gave her a big smile.
That's an image I'll always remember.
Now don't get me wrong. I'm all for separation of church and state, and understand the problems that arise when a public school forces kids to pray. The Supreme Court has spoken. On the other hand, I think these little things help ground the kids, and teach that some things are a little more important than a basketball game.