On Friday, January 9th, 2009, Garrett and I had the wonderful opportunity to host part of the Australian High School National Basketball Team.
Garrett's school was part of their USA tour stop and asked for family hosts for 2 team members. After putting our name on the list for volunteering, we were contacted to see if we could host 4 of the Australian students. Sure, what are two more kids...no worries.
We arrived at the basketball game and received a list with the names of the four boys that we would be hosting. Garrett was estatic! Four boys, all 17-18 years old; on their summer holiday, traveling the USA promoting Aussie Basketball.
When the game started, we had the list with their names and jersey numbers; 8,9,11,13-Garrett was on each of them with his 'detective eyes'.
Earlier, Garrett said he did not want to go to the game, but only pick up the boys after it was over. BUT, once we got there and he saw them, the crowd, the excitement of the game; he was transfixed!
Garrett was dressed in his school's Chess Club t-shirt, and we were sitting next to the girl's team who had just finished their game. Everyone was cheering, chanting, screaming and stomping for Garrett's school. All except Garrett; he had found his loyalty belonged to these four boys; strangers at this point. He said they deserved to have someone on their side and he was nearly on the court on several occasions screaming, chanting, stomping and cheering. Hilarious!!
I filmed and photographed quite a bit of the game, trying to focus on the guys we were hosting. Garrett, my trusty side-kick, was yelling at me- "Did you get that, did you get THAT?"
After the game, the host families met the players and we took them, packed into a Suburban to our house. When I say packed, I am serious. They were all over 6'4" and had GIANT suitcases, travel bags, game bags, and I thought we may burst out of the car on the way home.
When we got home, well after 10:00 pm, they were exhausted, freezing, and so grateful that they each had a bed to sleep in for the night. After settling in and creating the most gigantic mess I have ever witnessed, they all took part in playing with Garrett. Dinosaurs of course!
Envision this; Garrett the 6 yr old leader, explaining to four extremely tall 18 year olds, the names of all the dinosaurs, their herds, groups, categories, and so on...these guys were troopers.
Garrett was in his element and they all went along with him. Each one of the boys were so gracious, polite, kind and thankful.
One of the players; Rocky, had Garrett close his eyes and brought out Australian tourist gifts that he had brought along to share with the host families. A koala bear, a kangaroo mom and baby, a boomerang, and best of all they taught him the true Aussie cheer.
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oui, Oui, Oui!!!
By about 11:00 pm Garrett and the 4 boys had watched NBA basketball, discussed dinosaurs extensively and cheered loudly over and over.
Garrett and I turned in at midnight and the boys stayed up; still watching NBA basketball.
The next day they went on to their next stop, new host family and eventually would end their USA tour back in NYC.
Garrett cried, was mad that they had to leave, wanted them to stay and play, and was truly heart-broken that they were leaving so soon. That night, we drove to the town they were playing in so that Garrett could say Goodbye; again.
At this game, the team had their entire school cheering for them. And then there was Garrett;
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oui, Oui, Oui!!! Cheering as loudly as possible. He was the cheering section for them. During the half-time break, Garrett went over to say goodbye, high-fived each one of the team, and cheered for them each as he went along.
I am certain this will be one of those experiences that has changed his world.
For me, the cyclone of disaster that awaited my attention was unimaginable. How can 4 people create so much mess in less than 8 hours? It was fascinating and made me realize that having one boy; who will probably be at least their height as a teen, is certainly enough for the long term.
I am so happy that we had the chance to meet these amazing young men. They were great ambassadors of their team and Australia.