I have been latent in getting news to you all, as to how the basketball team is doing, since my last post. I have set down several times and began posting, but have erased them before being completed.
Many things have been going on in and around my life in the past week and my mind has been cluttered with numerous thoughts. I have been unable, til now, to sort through them in a comprehensible way to allow myself to express them to you.
My journey with the basketball team has been a great learning experience for me. I hope the boys have learned as much from me as I have learned from being around them.
Our team has a record of 1 - 10. Yes, it is a losing record; from one perspective. I am going to tell you about two of our most recent games. The first took place the day I posted Repeat??? Please!!! The second took place one week later. (We had a total of five games during that week.)
The first game was the game of a 'lifetime'. We were playing a very tough and successful opponent. Our team took the court and in the first half we were down by 14 points. There are four quarters in a game. Each quarter is five minutes long.
At half-time I took our boys aside and stared into the eyes of defeat. Each boys' head was hung low and tears were quietly hiding waiting for a chance to escape. Frustration oozed from their pores along with the sweat of battle. I was amazed that they saw defeat with so much time left to play. I quickly realized that for them to succeed they had to see themselves as I saw them. As their parents in the stands saw them. They had to see the victory that could be theirs and they had to want it. They had to be desperate for it! They had to have a do or die attitude.
I let my passion for the game spill forth from my lips. I told the boys that they had a choice to make. To give the other team the game, or make them earn it. Up until that moment, every point the other team had scored was from our mistakes they had capitalized upon; our bad passes, our poor rebounding, our lack of hussle. They had not earned one point. We had not made them play to their best potential, because we had not played to ours.
I told the team that according to city league regulations I did not have to play subs in the fourth quarter. I could play whoever I wanted for as long as I wanted. I set the ultimatum before them, "You play hard and show me you want to win and I will play you in the fourth quarter. You act like you don't care and give minimal effort; you will sit the bench. I don't have to sub anyone. If you want to play in the fourth quarter, then you better show me in the third. We can shut this team down and win this game. But you have to want it."
Every face changed at that exact moment. There was only one word to describe it; Determination! Desire was burning in their hearts. They took the court in the third quarter as a team, and they shut the other team down!
There was a passion burning within them that could no longer be contained. The other team was stunned. We took the lead. We did not allow them to score one point until the final minutes of the game.
It was an epic battle. Comments were being made by the score keepers and refs that this was the best game they had ever seen. Emotions ran high in the stands and emanated from every person in the gym.
I wish I could say that we won that game. But we did not.
This brings me to the second game I wanted to tell you about. This game took place a week later with three games between the 'epic battle' and this game.
We were playing the only undefeated team in our league. We had met them once before on the court and lost by 11 points. We had not played our best against them, and I was hoping for our team to show up ready to play. To be the team they had been during the 'epic battle'.
But no matter how hard I tried, no matter how many heartfelt and spurring speeches I gave, that team was nowhere to be found. We lost the game 51 - 4. Yes, we only scored four points. It was disheartening to say the least. I had watched our team play their best and then watched them give up on themselves.
I believe my team lost heart when they lost the 'epic battle'. They had given it all and still came up short; in their eyes. You see... I left the 'epic battle' game stoked at what I had seen. I saw that we could be amazing! We could shut down any team we wanted to... if we worked together... if we wanted it bad enough. But they left the game with defeat clearly visible upon their shoulders. Instead of laying it down, they have carried it into every game we have played since.
I also saw something within myself that I have to lay down. I have known for many years that I have a 'people - pleaser' personality. I want to make everyone happy, and will go to great lengths to make it happen. At times, I have tread on dangerous ground.
I wanted desperately to make my team happy. I wanted to make their parents happy. But I have to realize that they determine their own happiness by how they handle and view a situation. No matter how hard I try, I can not make them change.
We have one regular season game left and then a tournament. I still believe that we have an amazing team. I have not lost heart! And I hope that the boys will remember it before the end. But no matter the outcome, I am glad I coached this team and that I met these boys. They are an amazing bunch, whether they see it in themselves or not.