Part of something bigger

Photo/Maxime Picard

My son James was front and centre in a news photo depicting the thrilling 73-72 RSEQ championship win by the Bishop’s University men’s basketball team on Saturday. In the shot, he’s not playing. Instead, he’s on the bench with his teammates as, out of frame, Joany Castor-Thedal’s three-point shot glides through the net with .8 seconds left on the clock.

Except he’s not on the bench; he’s mid-air, literally jumping for joy, letting out a howl, as are his teammates and the fans in the stands. The action was on the floor. The reaction was everywhere else.

(Bravo to photographer Maxime Picard for having the foresight to know where the emotion would be during this intense final moment.)

We’ve been attending Gaiters home games all season, back in the Mitchell Gym after a hiatus of a few years. We used to drive our basketball-playing kids down to the games on weekends when they were in high school, but when they started attending CEGEP in Lennoxville and could go without us, the Call of the PJs was too strong on those nights requiring the long ride down the 143.

But after a year at Nipissing University and a year off, James came home to Bishop’s in the fall and was able to earn a spot on the men’s team. So down the road we found ourselves again.

With pleasure, of course. We love the game and love watching our kids play. While Deb played basketball in high school, I never participated in team sports outside the occasional woodwind quartet. (I can still hear the chanting: “O-boe! O-BOE! O-boe! O-BOE!”)

Instead, I get to experience the highs and lows through my children, but never, I don’t think, as a means of validating myself as a parent. Demonstrating sportsmanship, working hard, staying committed, I think Deb and I can take some credit for that, but ultimately their accomplishments are their own.

That said, there were times in the stands when we felt ourselves going full-on Mama/Papa Bear. “Why aren’t they putting James on?” we grumbled. And in truth, some games he got minimal minutes. He’s a rookie (again); it’s to be expected. Some games, some of his teammates didn’t sub in at all.

James wants to play, of course, and he would sometimes express his frustration to us. Mostly, though, he accepted reality, appreciated the minutes he got and made the best of his other role: being a good teammate. Cheering on his brothers. Being the first off the bench during timeouts to encourage the players coming off the floor. Enjoying being a part of something bigger.

Deb and I got on board too. We attended the games or I watched online never knowing for sure if or how much James would play, but learning to root for the team, becoming emotionally invested in the season. It was James’s team, therefore it was our team too.

So of course we would attend the championship game, especially when, against the odds, the #3 Gaiters were hosting #4 UQAM. Never, though, did we expect such a crowd as the one that showed up to cheer on Saturday. With nearly 950 in attendance, there was barely room to swing a cat.

It was thrilling to watch the two teams stay even for much of the first half, the fans roaring for every basket, every stolen ball, each blocked shot, then moan at the turnovers, go quiet as the Bishop’s lead disappeared late in the fourth.

And then, down by 2 with 15 seconds left, came the shot. You really should see the video. No, seriously, you should.

I jumped out of my seat, and it wasn’t the first time that night. It wasn’t a conscious decision. Like the boys on the bench, I just leapt up, in excitement, in the exhilaration of being part of that moment, with all those people.

I know James would have given anything to be on the floor right then. Who wouldn’t! He did play in the game, though; got four minutes, shot a three-pointer, missed (alas). He can say, though, that he played in the 2020 RSEQ championship game, a fact, he informed me this week, that may soon be memorialized in a discreetly located tattoo. Don’t tell his mother.

But in the photograph, I don’t think he’s thinking any of that. I suspect he’s thinking of that basket, the win, the team, his teammates, all of them soon to be wearing medals and goofy championship ball caps, hugging each other, proud to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
This entry was posted in Family - whadya gonna do?, It Really Did Happen! and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Part of something bigger

  1. That is fantastic! I love the shot and the enthusiasm displayed in your son. 🙂

    I see some of this with the goalie parents. In hockey, the goalies take turns; on our team each of the two goalies are playing every other game. But both boys are dressed and ready to play if the playing goalie gets hurt (or whatever).

    The parents of the dressed, but not playing goalie, are in the stands watching and cheering the team action. Their kid isn’t playing but you wouldn’t know this watching the parents. 🙂

    And, the goalie not playing is there supporting and cheering on his team.

  2. Love this–fantastic passing before that winning shot, too. My 10-year-old guys (twins) just finished up their basketball season. Definitely a rebuilding year, with some games lost by 25 points or more. But their team managed to keep its composure, and at some times all we could do was laugh–all of us together, kids, parents and refs. The camaraderie in failure was even a little inspiring. But winning is so much more fun. Congrats to your son and you parents for putting the time in over the years!

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Yes, one thread I had originally planned to weave into this piece is what would I say to him about that loss. I mean, we talk about other losses (or text if it’s an away game), but the big ones… Those are tough. Been there before, of course, and it’s part of sports, life, everything.

      • Team sports–was new to me with parenthood. (I was a ballet dancer, an entirely different kind of competition.) I love that wins and losses are shared–whether you sat on the bench or played. Hopefully it takes a bit of the sting out of the worst losses. You’re right, good life lessons there.

  3. cat9984 says:

    They named the team after a piece of men’s clothing?

  4. Nadine says:

    This is absolutely amazing! The photo, your son and his attitude, you and your partner as parents, the way you wrote about it, everything! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Wow…what excitement!

  6. Last week, you had trouble spelling that fashion-fest “Dior-ama,” and this week I found I’ve been misspelling “camaraderie.” (I thought that was a Sicilian Mafia group?) And then found out, yeah, on this continent, pal, you can spell it “comradery” if you want, except not when it’s a basketball game in Québec. So anyway, a really cheerful post about Team Spirit, great stuff, cheers for a story about losing yourself in something bigger than yourself. Excellent photo, too.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      It’s something else, eh? There’s another one taken by the university photographer if you follow the link. It’s equally compelling.

      “Comradery” — pffft!

  7. What’s this pffft? Whaddaya got, “esprit de corps”? Next you’ll tell me, you don’t like Aussies saying “Mateship”

  8. pinklightsabre says:

    Yes I watched the video and yes that was really, really sweet!

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