the year of less (now with more popcorn!)

by Susan

#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.