Youthful optimism

Last Call

A sense of hope was undeniable at an early morning youth futsal game. 

Parents, gripping tall to-go coffee cups, made small talk outside the gym. A father and son tossed a football in the grass. 

A young boy earnestly dribbled a basketball around his mother and uncle, losing possession then scurrying excitedly to retrieve the ball.

The atmosphere was relaxed. A community coming together on a sunny Sunday morning. 

Suddenly the buzzer blared from inside, signaling our turn to enter — to watch the kids play.

I visited my sister and my 9-year-old niece and 7-year-old nephew recently in Mount Pleasant. 

We played board games at the kitchen table and basketball in the driveway and baseball in the yard. We talked about school and gifts from Santa Claus. We learned fun facts from a National Geographic book. 

We drank hot chocolate. 

Amid the constant adult stresses of our health, the economy and the well-being of our families, the kids provided a respite and a reason for optimism.

Their energy — my niece and nephew compete in several sports — and inquisitiveness (both love to read and do well in school) were reminders that life is still full of wonder and possibility.

The futsal game encapsulated that feeling of optimism. 

The contest began with cheers and claps and smart phones held high for videos and photos. 

The outcome wasn’t important. 

The game was a learning experience: Defend the goal (Shouts of, “Get back, get back”). 

Space the floor (“Go to the other side”).  Pass the ball.

Support your teammates.

For 48 minutes we watched the teams run and attempt to score or kick the ball back the other way. A scoring opportunity that missed by inches was met with a delightful mix of groans and cheers, followed by shouts of encouragement.

The two squads competed against each other, but each person in the gym was on the same team. 

We were there to watch nieces and daughters and granddaughters enjoy themselves and learn how to play as a unit. 

There was a community connection in the gym, one familiar throughout our communities in the Lowcountry: a gathering of neighbors united in gleeful support of the next generation.

We cheered and laughed and watched them celebrate their efforts with an after-game doughnut snack.

That afternoon a birthday party for my niece’s teammate was enjoyed.

In a few days we would learn that consumer prices had jumped 7% in 2021, grocery costs were up 6.5%, and the coronavirus variant was continuing its surge. 

Worthwhile causes for concern, for sure, but no need for despair.

I drove home from my visit confident there are plenty of reasons to be inspired.

There was hope in a collection of upbeat kids running up and down a hardwood floor, full of enthusiasm, and in the adults feeding off that energy, enjoying the company of others, knowing there’s a promising future ahead.