Learning to love the game isn’t as much about the game as we may think. It isn’t the win in the big game, nor the stats that keep climbing. It isn’t the friendship and teamwork nor the cheering and applause. The reason we play, the reason we come back for more is the those moments of sheer, uninhibited joy. They are the culmination of all that we believe about ourselves and the delivery of our very best work.
The moments of sheer joy keep us on the field, or the court, or pounding the pavement. As an athlete you know the feeling, you know when it happens, why it happens and the joy courses through your veins like an inexplicable electricity.
I had the ultimate pleasure as a parent to witness this sheer joy on my child’s face. No, it was not in the excitement of the big win this past weekend in the state tournament, it was several weeks ago in a match that we eventually lost. It was a gigantic leap from a new, small, volleyball setter, that killed the ball into the floor to score a point. Forever etched in my brain is her face as she turned from the net to be congratulated by her teammates. Sheer joy, clearly articulated by the wide eyes, open mouth smile and the downward fist pump with both hands.
That one moment, those seconds of sheer joy and well-deserved happiness will be the highlight of the season for me. She only “kinda” remembers the moment when it was brought to her attention, but I know that moments of sheer joy are permanently stored in the memory of the heart. It is the true reason we play the game and it is why we will always come back for more.