He was screaming at me. He picked me up off my feet, pulled me away from the door, and put me back on the court. He placed the ball in my hands and demanded that I keep trying.
My father had a different way of teaching me not to quit than many parents, but I guess I was a bit more resistant to listen than other kids. I didn’t want to shoot the basketball with only one hand—I had two hands and I wanted to use both. Who was he to tell me that my left hand, which had helped me score all those points in all those games, wasn’t allowed to help out my right hand getting the ball through that little orange hoop? The way I saw it, if my left hand was out of the picture, so was I.
My father didn’t let me quit. He didn’t let me give up because I was frustrated with my shot, with practice, and with all of the not-so-close misses I was throwing at the basket. I wanted to go inside and wine to my mom about how big of a jerk my dad was, then go upstairs to secretly listen as she yelled at him when he came in the door. My father knew my mom was going to let him have it when he went in the house; she would say he was pushing me too hard and should go easier on me when we practiced in the garage. But he also knew that he wouldn’t let me quit because I didn’t want to work through a tough situation—an eight o’clock father and son basketball practice out in our family garage.
I guess I was a real pain back then; I was arrogant because I was always the best player on the team and I figured that whatever I was doing was the way it should be done. But my father knew that I could be better, and he wasn’t going to let me accept anything less my best. Through the yelling, crying, and the occasional temper tantrum, he didn’t give up on his son. He didn’t quit on me and he wasn’t going to let me quit on myself.
I believe in perseverance. If I still used both hands to shoot a basketball, I probably wouldn’t have played on the high school varsity team for three years. I probably wouldn’t have the memory of being captain of the only New Hope-Solebury High School basketball team to win the district championship. If my father had let me quit and go cry to my mother, he wouldn’t have been able to teach me a very valuable lesson—perseverance, not quitting, leads to success.
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