Thursday, May 17, 2012

To Matthew - Be Great!

My oldest son signs to play college basketball today.

I am unbelievably proud.

And it's not just because of his accomplishments on game days. I watched this child work day after day to become a better teammate and player. He had no off-season. Basketball was a year-round endeavor.

And it's not just because he worked hard to improve his basketball skills. I watched him mature and step into a leadership role. He earned the respect of both teammates and rivals.

And it's not just because he's a leader. I watched him dream. I was there with him at Georgia College and State University his junior year after his team had been knocked out of the playoffs when he looked around and said that his team would play for the state championship in that gym the next year.

And he was right. He took it on himself to make that happen. His team caught the dream, too, and together they accomplished something special. What a great season, and what a great team!

I've told Matthew often that a good player makes himself look good, but a great player makes the whole team look good.

I've thought he was great since he was a little kid playing rec league, when he was the quarterback of the Pebbles football team in Graniteville, South Carolina. They went undefeated that year. The last game of the season couldn't have ended better had it been scripted for a movie. The game was tied. Matthew handed the ball off, and with no time left on the clock, his teammate ran the ball into the end zone for the win.

At the awards ceremony, Matthew's coaches gave him the highest honor, the award called "Mr. Pebble" and remarked that they'd never seen a more selfless player. He made his team look good.

A few years later, Matthew found himself on one of two baseball teams in a little town in North Georgia. As politics would dictate, one of the teams was stacked. Matthew was one of the better players in the county and found himself on the favored team. Not surprisingly, a number of people were upset. So was Matthew. It bothered him so much that he asked permission to switch teams. I can't remember if that team won or lost that season. What I remember is Matthew donning his new uniform and winning the hearts of every momma out there, including myself. He not only made his team look good, he made me look good. I had raised a good kid.

And that leads me back where I began: Matthew leading his team on the 2012 GISA AAA state championship run. Most people never saw his year-round workouts. Most people never knew about the practices he called even when coaches couldn't be there. Or the conversations with teammates. Or the goofy raps on bus trips.

Points, assists, steals, rebounds. The measurement of these causes us to determine how good a player is.

But some things are less tangible like heart, passion, and composure. Put them together with the above, and you have a great player. Multiply that, and you have a great team.

So, my prayer for you, Matthew,  is that in basketball, in life, in relationships, wherever you are, be great. I'm so proud and excited for you. Your dreams are becoming reality.


Anonymous said...

Such beautiful words from a mother, Hope. I hope you realize that Matthew is simply a wonderful byproduct of his parents. Y'all did good!

hope hammond said...

Thanks, Brent, for the kind words! I tell you, he's a great kid. I've told a number of people that this couldn't happen to a more deserving kid. I'm so proud I can't stand myself! lol! Love you guys!

hope hammond said...

BTW, if you're wondering what college, it's Shorter University in Rome, GA.

Tammy Brown said...

You know how much I love Matthew....But i believe he is a product of his surroundings.....You and David have invested in him through his life showing Gods love to him and teaching the ways of the well as making him play sweetly with his siblings :) lol I watch him with the other players, other kids and even his brothers and sisters ....I see a guy that loves people the way God well as how he plays Basketball.....such a team player .... In every aspect of his life.....I am proud him!!!!!! I too want him to follow his dreams and am proud of his future..... Tammy Brown

hope hammond said...

Thanks, Tammy! Y'all have done a wonderful job as parents, too. Leyah's great for Matthew! She's incredibly thoughtful and creative. We love her so much!!!