Saturday, February 11, 2017

Is It Too Late?


When is it too late to turn a child's life around?
I am writing to you, who I am advised is the basketball coach at Stanwood Hi, for advice. Since you and I are not acquainted, this is awkward. I assure you I am not writing for money, and this is not a crank letter. In fact I could contribute money to a fund if such existed.
My name is Bonnie Crosse and I live in Santa Rosa California. My life expectancy is less than a year, as at 87 I struggle with Stage 4 lung cancer.
What prompts my letter is concern for my great nephew, a freshman at your school. It was always Preston's dream to be a basketball player. but neither of his parents could get their act together to sign the application papers for him to try out at the necessary time. Therefore I understand he was denied the opportunity to try out. This may or may not be accurate.
About three years ago his parents divorced. Custody was awarded to his mom. Both parents have issues with drugs and alcohol, and Preston has little if any support. His grades plummeted. As I look  at his life I see little hope for him. He has never been in any kind of group with his peers, and pretty much navigates life alone, although he fishes and snowboards with his dad.
It is sad that he knows little or nothing about his great grandfather, Douglas Hoyt Ford. Doug was a star athlete at the University of Washington during WW2, achieving varsity in swimming, baseball, and basketball. Preston has the genes to follow in his footsteps. But no one to encourage him.
My half sister and I were raised by my father, who both loved and encouraged us, but he died when I was a sophomore in high school. I became a ward of the court and was assigned to live with my Mother. It was a pretty primitive life for two years in a log cabin in Woodinville, with neither electricity or running water. Once at the University of Washington I was blessed with a roommate from a dairy farm in E Stanwood. The Frederickson family became like second parents to me, and still remain important in my life. Most weekends I went home with my new roommate and we attended basketball games. (There were two schools then.) That is my connection with Stanwood.
So. what does this have to do with you? There must be other kids like Preston, loners and hurting. and living life without direction. If you can think of anything I can do to turn this child's life around I would sincerely appreciate it.
In my book club I recently read Boys in the Boat, and was struck again how important it is for a child to learn teamwork. Is there anything you can do or I can do to change what seems like an inevitable road to sadness and failure? Are there any other answers for Preston?

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