By Doug Halberstadt
Her jersey number is 50. She is a 5-foot-10-inch senior on the Hononegah High School varsity girls’ basketball team. Even though the season doesn’t end for another four or five weeks, she’ll play the final competitive game of her career tomorrow night (Thursday, Jan. 21) against Belvidere. I think I’m more saddened about this than she is. I’ve been watching her play since she first walked on a court in second or third grade. She is my daughter, Abigail.
Friday (Jan. 22) she has to have surgery on her left foot and, afterward, she’ll have to be in a cast for the next six weeks. That means she’ll have to miss the rest of her senior season. For her, it’s not such a big deal. She’s not a starter, and the only time she gets into a game is if her teammates have built up a large lead.
When she does get the call to go into a game, I couldn’t be any prouder. She knows her role on the team, and plays with maximum effort and intensity. She works hard to get open on the offensive end of the court, and on defense, she’s as intelligent as anyone in the league.
Abi wasn’t blessed with a natural 3-point shot, she’s not a gifted ball-handler, she’s not tall enough to just lay the ball in at will. Any success she’s had, has come as a result of the tons of time and hard work she has put in on the practice court. I’m proud of her for continuing to put in all of those hours in exchange for the few minutes of game time she gets every now and then. That shows a level of discipline that only a few share.
Next fall, her foot will be completely healed, and she’ll be a freshman in college. Her focus will be on academics, which is exactly what it should be. However, I sure wouldn’t mind if she found some time to put on the Nikes again. I’m sure she’d do great playing intramurals for her dorm floor or a sorority.
That’s a decision she’ll have to make. If she decides to play, I’ll be there to watch and cheer her on. If she decides to never pick up another basketball again the rest of her life, that’s perfectly fine, too. I’ve enjoyed every second I’ve watched her play all of these years. I wouldn’t trade those memories for all the riches in the world.
Abi, thanks for making your mom, grandparents, sisters and me so proud, not only for the things you’ve done on the basketball court, but also for the exemplary young woman you are. You’ll always be our Most Valuable Player!
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Jan. 20-26, 2010 issue