Church Ball & the YSA Basketball Tournament

Wilford girls vs. Murray girls
Church Ball doesn't always have the best reputation. I am very well aware of why that is the case.

However, this week made me love it.

First, let's digress, because that's a lot more fun. Last year, I received a new calling to serve as the sports communications director for the Utah North, SLC, and South Areas. 580+ stakes with a variety of sports. An area website. A monthly newsletter. My efforts are focused in Salt Lake, but even still...that's a big area to cover.

Confession #1: I'm not really that in to sports.

Reminder #1: The Lord usually gives you a calling you feel completely unprepared for, just to see how you will react.

Lesson #1: I'm actually loving it.

So, yes, I have played sports. I dabbled in soccer and coach-pitch baseball as a kid. I played volleyball and basketball with my Young Women group. I think we even made it to region one year with our volleyball team (back when they still did regional championships). I ran varsity track and cross country in high school. I took a racquetball class. I've played ultimate frisbee and softball on my YSA ward teams and I love going to ward games to cheer my friends on.

Watching sports on TV? Not so much...except maybe BYU. I mean, I do love BYU basketball and football, but really...basketball was just to join the Jimmer bandwagon and I tune in to the last 15 minutes of the football games so I can sound like I know my game when I go to work. But I'll wear blue and talk up BYU sports with the rest of them. Goooooo Cougars!

All right, so I guess I like sports a little. Well, let's just say I felt completely unprepared for a sports calling. I just have never really been very good at team sports nor have I ever had a particular interest in making that my hobby.

Over the past few months, however, I've attended a variety of tournaments and training meetings. And I started understanding terms. I now know what constitutes a technical foul. And I learned the hard way that if you're playing third base you need to tag the person who's running to the base. And Pickleball, while seemingly an "elderly" sport, is actually pretty fun.

So back to Church Ball. For the past three days, I've spent my evenings at the YSA basketball tournament. The first night, I watched the men play and I took pictures. Totally fine with me. The second night, I watched the women's games. We didn't have enough scorekeepers. So I found some dude, made him be the scorekeeper over the scoreboard, and I watched. And learned. And by the end of the game we switched places and  I kept track of the score. And then stayed and did score keeping for the next two games. It was way more fun than I ever expected it could be and I came to appreciate officials way more than I did before. And tonight, I covered all the games, without much coaching on when to sub in, when to stop the time, etc...except when one time I accidentally added points to the wrong team. Boy, did I hear it!!! But "the table" has a new meaning to me. And the table is always right!

Seriously some of my favorite girls in the world.
The Church sponsors sports for a variety of reasons: promote physical activity, have fun, fellowship others, do missionary work, and ultimately to invite all to come unto Christ. So is the Church accomplishing its goals? I think so.

My Wilford girls in a huddle.
Wah-wah-wah-Wilford!
 Ok, so I didn't get great shots cause
I was trying to take care of the scoreboard!
During the tournament I watched a very wide variety of ball players come in and out. All sorts of people, all sorts of hairstyles, all walks of life. All coming together. All playing together. All having a good, friendly competition, and all walking out of the game-having won or lost-together with their fellow members of the Church or friends of the Church. I will be honest in saying that there may have been a few unnecessary fouls and the spectators may have been a little raucous in their spectating. There was a bit of talking back to refs and maybe a few incidences of charging. But overall, I just enjoyed it. And it was even more fun to watch the girls from my very own ward (Wah-wah-wah Wilford!) progress in the championship. I just felt an immense love for all who were there just having fun together.

In the big scheme of things, we are all going for the same goal. But a little friendly competition along the way doesn't seem to hurt.