You have to admit there is a certain synergy to The Big Game in the U.S. falling during Carnival. I will leave the liturgical and cultural significance of that as an exercise for the reader and instead turn my attention to another game and another venue here in Southern California.
A couple weeks ago I was delighted to read a column by Bill Plaschke in the Los Angeles Times – “Girl Scout’s project provides hope through hoops.” It was about a recreational basketball court built by Claire Dundee as the community service project for her Girl Scout Gold Award. She had taken a small piece of yard at a transient apartment complex and oversaw the construction project that turned it into a small but usable basketball court for the kids in the complex. Mr. Plaschke describes her accomplishment like this:
With her wits and will, during a six-month period that occasionally seemed like forever, Claire Dundee arranged and supervised the construction of a simple court that has been the answer to endless prayers. She initially did it to earn her Girl Scout Gold Award, that organization’s highest honor, but eventually reaped far greater riches, restoring faith in adults skeptical of a teen’s determination and hope in kids who didn’t have a place to play.
She raised the money, convinced the contractor, dealt with the architect, eventually even pushed the wheelbarrow. In the beginning, she was so scared to phone strangers that she would write down a script before every call. But by the end, she was overseeing the pouring of the concrete.
Clair talked about the challenge saying:
“A lot of people said I was crazy,” she recalled. “But I knew something like that would last forever.”
The head of the construction company she worked with, Mansour Jahanbin of Oxford Construction, had this to say about the project and the boss:
“She was my boss,” Jahanbin said. “It was one of those projects that you start at a certain level, and it keeps getting bigger, but it was such a good thing, and she was so impressive, you can’t stop, you’ve got to finish it.”
And a mother at the project told of the importance of the play area and the impact it has had on her son:
“I can see a smile on his face, a change in him, he can come downstairs and just play and be a kid,” she said. “Who knew a court could be so important?”
So yes, Claire did it for the Gold Award, but the court itself is its own testimony in that place:
Yet the Girl Scout has stayed in the background, no initials carved in the concrete, no plaque anywhere, Dundee leaving no personal mark on the court other than her sweat. In fact, she says she’s not even finished, as she insists on painting the court green and adding official lines once it dries from the recent rains.
Read the whole story, I assure you it is worth it. And the LA Times thought enough of this story to put it on the front page of the Sunday sports section, above the fold.
And a personal note to conclude this post: I will acknowledge that this is the first time my post for The Big Game has strayed from American Football. But I did want to include a bit of back-story and why this story grabbed me on a whole lot of different levels. First, I have worked with the ministry that runs the housing complex while in grad school when my small group cooked a monthly meal for their homeless shelter. Second, my daughter also did her Gold Award project using sports, what the rest of the world calls football in her case, as she collected equipment and worked with kids at a community center operating out of a local church. Finally, I work with other projects like this all the time with the Boy Scouts. When I review a project for approval I always ask the young man “Why do you want to do this particular project?” Often that is an amazing insight into the life of that scout and what their passion is. There are a lot of amazing young people out there doing some great stuff for the community.
And so, if you are so inclined, enjoy The Big Game tomorrow. But remember that some of the other match ups out there may ultimately be more important.