In early March, we attended our final basketball banquet. We were so proud to see Bri’s name on the program for having earned Academic All-State. ACADEMIC ALL-STATE! Do you realize the improbability of that happening after such a severe traumatic brain injury? I still can hardly comprehend that. Obviously, her class rank and GPA have dropped significantly, so to still have achieved this is just amazing!
Nothing more needed to happen for the evening to be grand. But it did. Bri was awarded the Fighting Heart Award for the girls’ basketball team! I had hoped she would get it last year and even the year before, but she hadn’t. So this year I didn’t even consider the possibility. I know it’s usually given to a girl who’s been out there fighting on the court, whether she plays a ton or not. And in my mind Bri has the heart of a lion and doesn’t need to be given any award to make it so. So at the end of the awards ceremony I was completely unprepared for her name to be called when Coach Parris announced the Fighting Heart Award. And when he called her name everyone was on their feet giving her a standing ovation – a long one. I’m in tears again just thinking about it. He spoke not only of the fight she’s fought since the accident – the one that everyone sees – but also of the fight that many do not see. He commended her for showing up to practice early each day with the rest of the team, even though there would be no playing time, and for continuing to work hard on her grades. He also spoke of her love for the game – how even though she’s no longer able to play she still loves the game and is a fierce competitor who loves to win.
What most people don’t know is that so many days she considered quitting the team. I wish I could say the opposite – that the thought of quitting never crossed her mind. But the truth is she thought of it often. Some days it was torture to watch the other girls practice and play, knowing that she never would again. But I guess that’s what makes it that much greater that she didn’t quit. When it all came down to it, she said that as hard as it was it would have been harder to NOT be a part of it – she just couldn’t bear the thought of not being on the team.
Thank you, Coach Parris, for recognizing her with this honor – for acknowledging this in Brianna. And for having me in tears yet again!
I am so proud of you, Brianna. I get to see what no one else sees – the fight you fight every day physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. You have the heart of a warrior. You are the definition of a fighting heart.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Philippians 3:12