For the past five years, in partnership with Bridge Church, CCC has been helping support and build a youth basketball league in North Omaha. I (Eric Carpenter) have been blessed to be a part of this since the beginning.
Each time we end practice, we have a Better Together Student Award that recognizes the player that exudes character, integrity, and teamwork. We also end each practice with this prayer, “Today is a day of victory on the court, in the classroom, and in the community. I commit to being a life-lifting, better together, game-changing leader. In Jesus name, that’s what’s up!”
Its 6 AM when I wake up to a frantic knock on my front door. As I open the door a cold draft comes rushing in and to my surprise the youngest daughter of my neighbor is standing at the door looking to come in. “Is everything ok?” I ask, and without hesitation she says, “I’m hungry coach.” Not having much to offer, I grab a granola bar and pour her a glass of juice. I can see in her face that she’s been up for hours as I ask her if she knows what time it is. She shrugs her shoulders and quickly asks what time our basketball game is that morning. In my head I’m thinking, “It’s not for another 3 hours and I need to go back to sleep!” Instead I ask, “Is your mom coming to the game or do you need a ride?” With disappointment on her face she lets me know her mom is already at work. Her mom has not been able to come to a game all year. After reassuring her that I would be there to pick her up on time, I lie in bed and think about how all 10 girls on my basketball team experience the same disappointment. In fact, only one mom has shown up to watch her daughter play the entire season. I think this is when it hit me how much I value the time I spend with these kids and how important it is for me to be a role model in their lives. It crushes me to imagine my own child with the same look of disappointment.
As parents, we all have moments when we let our children down. Sometimes because of unforeseen circumstances or work or just the busyness of life. The families we work with at Bridge Church have many barriers to overcome, and many of the children we coach come from single parent homes. I just got back from a week-long mission trip and when I returned my wife commented on how hard it would be to be a single parent. If we examine our lives, busyness if often the thing that distracts us from what ‘s most important. It seems we are always in a hurry. Our culture thrives on busyness and we are often guilty of not slowing down to see what God is doing right in front of us. Most of the activities we are involved in are good and seem important, but I’m realizing nothing is better than getting involved with activities that will change the life and direction of a young child.
One of the greatest ministries I have been involved in these past 5 years is the basketball program at Bridge Church. This past year it has grew to over 250 students! When we first started we needed 3 cars to pick up our entire team and had one set of parents in the stands. Now when I drive to games, I no longer need to pick kids up and we see every parent in the stands cheering for their child! What a difference Bridge Church is making in the lives of students and families. Throughout the season each student receives a jersey, shorts, socks, shoes, a snack at each game, and an award for their hard work. It’s pretty cool to no longer see disappointment on their faces, but rather excitement and joy over simple things. As the basketball program continues to grow, we will certainly need more coaches to lead and help coach teams. It doesn’t matter what age you are or how much experience you have, we need you! Investing in the lives of kids doesn’t just impact them, but it also impacts your life as well.