Get in the Game, March 10

It’s March Madness! And that means it’s time for hoops! From the state level to the national stage, basketball teams are competing for trophies and bragging rights. This past weekend, we had the chance to be fans for my high school girls basketball team.

The Pender Lady Pendragons found themselves in a peculiar spot…a wild card birth in the class D1 state tournament. This situation was also unique because it’s been 20 plus years since the Lady Dragons have been to state. I was a freshman in the band when our girls basketball team came to state only to lose in the first round.

Now this time, I attended the games without my saxophone, but as a mom with kids. I enjoyed taking my 8-year-old son to all three of Pender’s tournament games.

On March 3rd, 4th seeded Pender played 5th seeded Newman-Grove. The game had a late start…8:45 p.m. and it was a school night. What’s a mom to do? Well, we chose the game. How many times does your team make it to state? My brother and I took Jacob to the game and Jon stayed home with our 5-year-old daughter. It was an exciting game with Pender winning its first ever first round game!

Round two was Friday night, March 4th. Of course, Jacob and I had to go! We were invested in this team now. Jacob already knew all of the players. It was another late game at 8:45, but thankfully, it was a Friday night, so our whole family attended this time. And what a game it was! Pender was on fire…hitting unbelievable shots! The Pendragons actually upset number one West Point Central Catholic and advanced to the D1 championship game.

We had to celebrate, but it was 10:30 at night! What should a family of four do on a Friday night? Little Olivia had the answer!

"Let’s go to McDonald’s!" she shouted.

Great idea! And the perfect time to get some shamrock shakes!

We were so excited entering the championship game on Saturday, March 5th. It was 4th seeded Pender and 6th seeded Howells. After our big win against the number one team, you had to feel pretty good about Pender’s chances.

Pender started the game up 2 to 0. But, that would be the only time Pender led in the game. Howells quickly took control and their fans showed their enthusiasm. Our Pender team seemed a bit tired, having played their hearts out the night before.

I looked over at Jacob. Tears welled up in his eyes and he started crying. Over those last couple of games, he had developed a connection with this team and he was so sure they would win it all.

Jon and I tried to share some parental wisdom with Jacob. We told him that sports are about overcoming adversity, and that your team can’t always win. Pender would finish second at state and still take home a trophy. Not too bad for a young wild-card team. And there’s always next year!

Last weekend’s games were memorable in many ways. Not only did the team make some tough shots, but we, as parents, had to take advantage of some teaching moments and help our son deal with winning and losing.

When you get in the game of parenthood, you never know when or where those important moments will occur. I’ll always remember the sign my daughter made for the game. “Pender, I hope you win.” And, I’ll remember the range of emotions shown by a little basketball fan. For that, it was definitely a slam dunk weekend.


About the Author...
Taryn Vanderford
Taryn Vanderford is an Emmy-winning journalist who currently works on "First at Four", "Pure Nebraska" and "Moms Everyday" for 10/11 and Gray Television.

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