the year of less (now with more popcorn!)

#basketballneverstopsA month or so back, I offered to be the concessions coordinator for the basketball program at the boys’ school. This is the kind of job that everyone avoids — you’re volunteering to round up volunteers, which is just insane at some level. People are equal parts horrified and grateful when they hear you’ve taken this on.

Mostly, though, they are just relieved that someone else has agreed to be in charge. I’m totally fine with that; I like to be in charge. I would always rather just do things my way and know they’re getting done, honestly. Even if we’re just talking about selling donuts and Gatorade at an elementary school basketball game.

My first Saturday of overseeing concessions went like this: I woke up at 7:15 and dawdled around until 7:45, when I realized that I needed to get dressed and hustle over to the school because the games start at 9:00 and I had told the athletic director that I would be there early to figure out what exactly I was responsible for. I threw on some sweats and a ball cap and put my coffee in a to go cup and made it just in time.

I learned how to pop the popcorn and make the coffee and heat up the cheese for the nachos. I got the scoop on the cash box and paying the referees and timekeepers and how to get reimbursed for any supplies I buy. I had a tour of the kitchen and the pantry and the athletic closet (which is in the boys’ bathroom, of course).

The first set of parent volunteers showed up and I walked them through everything and high fived them and gave them my cell number in case they had a concessions-related emergency and drove across town for Charlie’s game. (His team won, 23-16.) When that was over, I hustled back to the school to check in and make sure everything was going smoothly. My plan was to pop in for fifteen minutes and say hello and then run home and eat and shower and come back in time to clean up for the day.

That is totally not how it went down. At all.

The concession stand was in great shape, but there was no one to run the clock for the next set of games, so I grabbed a Diet Dr. Pepper and a Snickers bar (the lunch of champions!) and figured out how to run the score board (with only a couple of panicked texts/calls to the AD and the basketball coordinator). And then I settled in to watch three second grade girls’ games.

When those were done, I helped clean up and put everything away and finally, at 3:30, I headed home and collapsed on the couch to watch some college basketball with Wade, which was ridiculous because I had already sat through four full games. I was so over basketball by the end of the day that I skipped the entire Thunder game and just went to bed. I’m not even kidding.

(Aside: I learned that there is a special place in heaven for the parents who coach second grade girls’ basketball. So many missed shots, and so much giggling. OMG.)

I realize that it seems completely counterintuitive to say that the first really significant thing I have done in the Year of Less is to take on what will clearly be a pretty big commitment. But to me, this feels like the right kind of more, like something that will be rewarding and energizing. And I need a lot more of that in my life right now.

I see this as a way to connect with our school community, to be part of something that means so much to my son and that has become so important to our family. Charlie lives for basketball, and he loves his school; he is proud of where he goes and proud that he plays on this team. And over and over again, Wade and I have said that we hope basketball teaches Charlie the importance of being part of a community, of being a contributing member of a team. It’s great that his basketball skills are improving — we also see his character developing in really wonderful ways, thanks to his experiences playing ball, primarily on the school team.

This is a simple — and, honestly, fun — way for me to give back. And it involves popcorn and basketball, which are two of my favorite things.

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9 thoughts on “the year of less (now with more popcorn!)

  1. Hi Susan ~ It is a lot of work but pays off tremendously from the special bond you build with your children when they see how connected you are to their life, school, sports, coaches and friends. My daughter ran cross country, track and cheered. My son is still in high school and plays baseball. I cherish those moments and memories from being a Team Mom, running the concession stand, serving on the booster board. I made good friendships with other parents from that experience and more importantly bonded in a special way with my children. You’ll miss it when they graduate. Enjoy ( :

  2. I was very active in the PTA at our children’s school and also did a lot of classroom volunteering. I am still being stopped by my children’s classmate’s who remind me of some little (to me) thing that they remember. (My children are 38 and 33, so it is a big deal to me that they and their friends have such good memories!)

    My husband ended up doing most of our daughter’s track meets and practices, because I was going to college. (And at my college, there was a gifted instructor who almost pulled me off course for graduation…because I signed up for her classes without paying any attention to what I needed to take to fulfill all of the requirements.) Any way, I remember making it to one track meet where I froze my tail off!

    So the special place for my husband and the other track meet parents is: warm, dry, and has soft seats; no hard, cold metal in sight!

  3. The last two years have been pretty hellish for me, going through a separation and divorce after 20+ years of marriage, but this year I am looking at my new single-ness as a gift. I’ve been given the gift to do what I want, how I want and when I want (around the kids’ schedules, of course). Granted, I’d rather have not had this huge life change, but I need to look at it in a positive light since it is now my life. In addition, 2014 is the year I give more than I receive, since I received so much love and support from my friends and family over the last two years. I’m starting this by volunteering for our local Boxer (dog) rescue group. It can be as small or as large a committment as I would like. Of course, with so many dogs in need, the committment is large and I’m loving it. Doing things for our families, even extended canine families, feels good and sets a good example. Thanks for sharing yours!

    • Jamie, I just want to hug you. Your attitude is so terrific — I hope this year is a wonderful new start for you.

      And working with Boxers sounds like SO much fun. (I totally want a dog. But it’s totally not going to happen. Sigh.)

      • Hug accepted! It’s taken a while to get my attitude to this place, but I can’t sit and wallor in sadness any longer, there’s too much life out there to live. Bummer on not getting a dog!

  4. After saying no to so many things like this over the past few years, when I was dealing with kids with issues and was completely overwhelmed just with life inside my four walls, I volunteered to be co-president of our summer pool last year. It was exhausting and thankless (some of the time) but also fun and fulfilling (much of the time). And I gained a sense of accomplishment I had not had in forever. And the connections I made with people (while the introvert in me always somewhat resists them) were life-giving.

    Did you get to hit the buzzer? I’ve always wanted that job! (Also, our 2nd grade girls basketball team breaks out into cheerleading on the court during the game. They’re much better at that than basketball!)

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