Branson started taking a gymnastics class about 5 years ago. I needed something to help my Energizer Bunny get out his endless energy. Gymnastics worked! He loved it and after a few months he started advancing through the classes. One time a week turned into 2 then 3 then 4. At this point the only place left to go was onto the team. The price sky rocketed along with the time commitment but our boy loved it and seemed to be thriving there.
The season before last he really excelled, he won first place in the regional meet. It was such a great day to see him compete at his very best and get the outcome he wanted. That year was also the first year that his team started competing on Sundays. It is a heart-wrenching thing to be a part of team, spend endless hours practicing and then miss the competition when your faith over rides your sport.
This last season that came to an end only months ago brought more challenges. Branson moved up two skill levels which took him from being one of his teams highest scorers to one of the lowest. And just before his last competition his beloved friend and coach who he had practiced with for years pulled Branson aside and told him that this season would be his last. He and his wife had started their family and he was taking a new job somewhere else. I remember picking Branson up from practice that night. He got in the car and turned his head toward the window. I knew something was wrong. He had huge tears sliding down his face. The idea of Coach Dom leaving and no longer being a part of each day seemed more than Branson's heart could take. And watching Branson struggle through a painful good-bye nearly broke mine in two. Branson didn't do well in the last competition and ended the season more discouraged than ever. Sunday meets, missing Dom and facing an uphill battle to get back into high scores was enough to make us consider quitting for the first time since his very first practice.
After several weeks of thought, prayer and tears Branson had his last day at that gym. Life has been so different for Branson these past few months. He has more time on his hands than he knows what to do with and he misses his friends and life at the gym. My heart has ached watching him make this difficult transition.
As we registered for school I took note of when football tryouts were and encouraged Branson to go for it, he was super nervous because he had only played football one season when he was little and didn't really know the sport. But he is a natural athlete and I thought he could have a chance. The tryouts were a week long, it was over 100 degrees everyday and there were at least 100 boys all hoping for one of the 30 spots on the team.
On the day of cuts Scott and I waited at the school and as soon as we caught a glimpse of Branson across the school yard I put my hands in the air and made a thumbs up sign followed by a thumbs down. A huge smile crossed his face and he raised his hands up high with a thumbs up.
In that moment I felt a bit of the pain and hurt and loss from gymnastics leave his growing heart. He is still hurting and frustrated because like most the 7th grade players he doesn't get much playing time but he is getting better everyday and his time is filled up again with good, hard work.
I think a part of Branson's heart will always be in the gym, up on the rings and swinging from the high bar but for now I am happy for him and he is progressing in other ways. Life is full of hard changes and big challenges and this will just be one more thing to make him a stronger more able kid. Man, I love that guy. The icing on the cake was Brylee making the cheer team the very next day. I think these two are going to be just fine.