My eyes filled with hot tears and spilled over. I pushed them away with my sweaty, shaking hands. Disappointment was almost tangible. You could see it written in the humid locker room air. The mighty battle was over and the victors were celebrating in the other locker room, far across the crowded gym. Slowly, seemingly without purpose, I gathered the spoils of war and walked dejectedly back onto the battlefield. I tried to smile, but the tears were too close to the surface. He walked toward me, a bright smile on his face. I took two steps and found myself safely in his embrace.
"You played hard; you gave it all you had. There's nothing more you could have done. We're all proud of you."
I smiled up into his face, my voice breaking, "I know. But it doesn't take away the disappointment." We turned and walked out of the gym, bringing with us memories and love.
A hero is often defined as someone who has qualities like courage, or is a high achiever in a certain area. I could use this definition for my hero, even though he is an ordinary person who deals with ordinary problems every day. My hero, my dad, is a high achiever in the area of love.
Everyone has someone in their life they turn to when times are tough. For me, that person is my dad. When I fall short of my goals, he helps me pick up the pieces of my dreams and put them back together again. When I feel lost and need guidance, he provides a detailed map. When I've had just "one of those days" and need someone to talk to, he is there as a sounding board. My dad listens to my dreams, offers advice for my problems and guides me, if asked.
By giving me a sturdy base of love, my dad has allowed me to soar to success. He has, however, let my dreams be my dreams. He supports my choices, my goals and my decisions because he realizes this is my life. He does not load false hopes or someone else's dreams on my shoulders.
My dad is a teacher at my high school and is also the JV boys basketball coach. With this busy schedule, he still finds time for me, my brothers and sister. My dad supports all the events I am in. He comes to all my concerts and many sports events. He was with me every step of the way through the state basketball tournament. Even though he is unable to be physically at my volleyball games, I know his thoughts are with me.
I know, without a doubt, that my parents love me. That is something that no bad day, terrible accident or horrible decision can ever reverse. Knowing that there are bonds that tie me to those around me has allowed me to soar to success.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.