Martha loves basketball. She has run a recreational travel program for girls for as long as I’ve known her. As the director she has always given scholarships to girls who can’t afford the registration fees or uniforms. And because she works in an elementary school she often hears about girls who are at risk and makes the effort to get them involved in sports. She often drives girls who have no rides to practices or games and follows up with them after the season is over to help them stay on course. It’s one of the biggest reasons I fell in love with her.
Last year she accepted the High School Junior Varsity coach position. Although not technically her boss, the varsity coach, Marc, runs the program. I think I am being kind when I say he is more suited to be a Marine drill sergeant than a girls’ coach. Martha has clashed with him on many, many occasions but my favorites are why I love her:
Last year Martha became aware of a young woman who was cutting herself. Martha immediately talked her into trying out for the JV team. Of course Marc said that she wasn’t good enough to make the team and there were only enough uniforms for the players who would make it. Martha paid for an extra uniform and Sky became part of the team. She didn’t get much playing time, but whenever the team was up by a lot or down by a lot, Sky went into the game. At one game Martha told the rest of her team not to shoot but to keep feeding the ball to Sky. It took quite a few attempts but Sky eventually scored her first points. The team and fans gave her an ovation. Her mother was crying. And when Sky came off the court she gave Martha a huge hug. Marc sat on the bench scowling and after the game gave Martha quite the dressing down. She smiled through it all because she knows. She knows what’s important.
This year I went to a game and saw a young boy with Martha. Cody was a special needs kid she knew from school.and found out he loved basketball. She got him a team jersey and let him sit on the bench. Marc was glaring at her but she just shrugged and told him the kid was the team’s biggest fan. When the team scored, the Cody started running up and down in front of the bench clapping and waving his arms incessantly. Marc had steam coming out his ears and Martha very gently told Cody that he had to stay behind the bench if he couldn’t stay seated. Later Cody’s mom called to say that it was the best night of Cody’s life. Marc also called that night to say “Never again. The bench is for players and staff only”. At the next game Cody was next to the bench, at the scorer's table, where he then was at every home game.
And this is why I love her. We have our problems. We have our arguments. She can push all my buttons, as I’m sure I do to her. But at the end of the day, there is no one I’d rather share my life with than a person who stands up for children, especially those who need a little extra help and attention. I am so proud to be with her and so very grateful to have her in my life.