5.23.2017 ~ 11 More Reflections

After I finished sharing my reflections yesterday I knew I still had a few lingering in the archives of my mind waiting to be processed.  So, today I will add them to the list.  Most of the reflections are from track, but I will also add a few from basketball.  I shared reflections after coaching the 7th grade girls team in the fall, but because of busyness and a day off before track started I never shared reflections from the 8th grade boys basketball season.

Once again I offer these reflections from coaching very humbly, recognizing that they are my thoughts and reactions and not necessarily anybody else’s.  I also recognize that I think about and take a different approach to youth sports than many other people.  I don’t always share the thoughts behind my reasoning, and maybe through the course of this blog I will some day, but don’t always feel the need to express myself.  Perhaps, in these lists you will get a glimpse of where I am coming from.

  1.  From the Head Coach: Heidi, my wife and Head Track and Field Coach at Homedale High School, shared this with me this morning. “You have me thinking about more reflections this morning … one I’m stuck on is when there is respect, encouragement, and a positive environment, you get more out of kids … harder work, better results, more leadership.
  2. Judas Didn’t Get It: Perhaps this reflection is a bit broader than just my thoughts and observations from sports.  Okay, I know it is.  I’ve been thinking about Judas as I interact and work with people.  Judas spent significant time with Jesus, and in the end he still decided that he didn’t buy in and opted for a different path.  I’m convinced that this will happen every once in awhile in our work with people. Sometimes we can agree to disagree, sometimes we can’t. I wonder what Jesus’ thoughts were about Judas? Did he weep?  Did he run through conversations and interactions in his head? Did he think “Father, forgive him”? Sometimes on our teams with players and parents there is total buy in, and sometimes there is not.  There are a variety of reasons … some of them valid.  I think as coaches we have to humbly examine those reasons, and know when we need to stick to our guns (thoughts, philosophy, approach) and when we need to rethink.  I don’t think Jesus needed to rethink what He was doing, Jesus knew the mission, and was steadfast.  But since we are fallible humans we have to be open to God’s guidance and the leading of the Holy Spirit as we coach.
  3. A Better Coach: I’m a better coach because of the young people I get to work with. I’ve learned to better listener, to have empathy for the athletes, and to really try and hear where they are coming from.   Three years ago one of the girls I coach shared with me how she responds when coaches yell excessively for no apparent reason.  She just tuned them out.  I started watching other coaches and athletes, and noticed that most young people tune out when their coaches use yelling as coaching tactic on a regular basis.  I wasn’t much of a yeller before, and I am even less of one know.  I’ve learned other things from shutting my mouth and listening to my athletes, and I am grateful to them for the things I have taught me.
  4. Saying Goodbye Is Hard: We have our end of season team awards banquet tomorrow night, and I will probably cry like a baby at it.  When I’m sharing with people my thoughts about how awesome they are I can get emotional.  Last year I cried when I talked about a sophomore, and didn’t even say anything about a junior except “I can’t do this two years in a row, I will say something next year.” Now, it’s next year and she is a senior, and there are several other seniors … saying goodbye is hard. This happens when you invest so much in the lives of the young people you work with and coach. You grow to love them, and develop amazing relationships with them and it is hard to not work with them in the same capacity anymore. The cool thing is that the relationship continues and changes.  I love it when they swing by the house to say hi when they are home from college, or they just need to stop and visit.  Tomorrow night will be hard, I’m already preparing myself because it will be good too.
  5. PR’s: One of the reasons I like coaching track is because if athletes work hard and focus on being their best selves, competing against themselves daily to bring out their best, they can see results.  I don’t care about places, but I am passionate about young people working hard, and doing their best. In track and field everything is easily measured, and athletes can see the result of their hard work and effort.  They get times, distances, and marks for every event they do and we keep track of those things. The goal is to progress throughout the year and peak at the end of the season.  We measure their distance, times, and marks and celebrate Personal Records or PR’s. PR’s allow the athletes to see the result of their efforts … pushing themselves to be their best.
  6. There’s Always Been Basketball: I’m contemplating a book by this same title.  This year I was able to coach my son’s 8th grade basketball team, and I now know this is exactly what I needed to do this year.  We were having trouble finding an assistant coach for the B team, and so before Christmas I asked my dad (a retired teacher and coach) if he would like to help.  I also had one of my former players volunteer to help. So, this season I got to coach my son, and coach with my dad. How awesome is that? (The answer is very awesome.) In January we found out that my dad’s cancer came back and all I kept thinking was that I was glad he had basketball practice and games to give him something else to think about.  My dad and I have shared a lot of experiences on the basketball court, and I am grateful we could share this past season together as well.
  7. Hand Shake: I always teach my basketball teams how to properly shake hands.  I don’t know why I started doing this but I do think being able to shake hands properly is a valuable life skill.  One of the fun things for me is when I get to shake former player’s hands. Every time I show up at the middle school one of the young men who played for me this year comes up with his hand out ready to shake hands. (I told them to always be prepared when they see me.) Lately, some of the guys I’ve coached in the past have been coming home from college for the summer … lot’s of proper handshakes. Good stuff. I just think you can tell a lot about a person from how they shake hands and I want to make sure my players represent themselves well. Plus they will use the art of shaking hands more than they will use their cross over dribble.
  8. A Space to Belong: One of the goals of our track program is to create a space for young people to have a since of belonging. Within this environment they are free to be themselves and connect with their friends and coaches as they see fit. Positiveness, encouragement, and support are on display and being a great teammate is of the upmost importance.
  9. Being a Good Teammate: One of the things I saw on display often was how great of a job our track and field athletes did of being good teammates.  They loved each other. They supported each other. They encouraged each other. They cheered for each other. They talked to each other. They joked with each other. They mentored each other. They helped each other. They coached each other. They looked out for each other.  They were good teammates.
  10. In The Grand Scheme of Life: In the grand scheme of life high school athletics are a small blip on the radar, but they can have great impact.  I think it is good to keep this in perspective as we work with young people, and understand that high school athletics are extra-curricular activities that are one part of their training and education. Let’s make sure we don’t put undue pressure on our young people while encouraging them to do their best and have fun.
  11. Rest: I think rest is important and I think one of the reasons we had such a successful season is the way we included rest within our training schedule.  Our message the last few weeks during training as been “go fast, and full recover.” Proper rest allows student athletes to shine when they need to shine, and reduces injury and burnout.  Sabbath rest is an important topic in the Bible, and I believe is one that needs to be encourage in youth sports for the best results to be obtained.
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5.22.2017 ~ 10 Reflections from Track

I’m an assistant coach for the Homedale High School and Homedale Middle School Track and Field teams.  We run a combined program with all of the coaches coaching specific areas in both programs.  This was our third year running the program this way, and even with turnover in our coaching staff this year, everything seems to be working really well.

This is my fifth year coaching track and field, and this year I added coaching the sprinters to my job description, while I also focused on the jumpers.  This last weekend we competed at the Idaho 3A State Track and Field Championships and had our best showing as a program in the past 5 years.  The boys team took 5th out of the 21 schools competing, missing 4th place and a trophy by 3 points.  This was accomplished with 5 boys.  The girls team took 6th place out of 21 schools, competing with 8 girls. You can find results from the meet here.

I would like to share some of my reflections from the season, the state track meet, and my coaching experience in both basketball and track and field.  I share these reflections humbly as my opinion knowing full well that I think differently than others do about coaching and working with young people. These reflections come after observation, thought, prayer, interactions, reading, and conversations.

  1. Young People Are Still Driven: Often I hear how this generation of young people doesn’t want to work hard for anything, and while this may be true for some of our young people I can assure you this is not true for all of them.  For those of you who might think this generation of young people doesn’t know how to work hard nor do they want to, I would challenge you to attend a track and field meet.  All weekend I witnessed young people pushing themselves to the limit both emotionally, mentally, and physically to give of the very best of themselves.  Their effort was commendable.
  2. Sportsmanship Was on Display: Time and time again I witnessed good sportsmanship on display as athletes competed against themselves and each other, and then shared their excitement and disappointment with one anther.  I saw the opposite of this as well, and fortunately it was few and far between. I can tell you that the good sportsmanship shined brightly, and the bad sportsmanship stood out like a soar thumb … or ego.
  3. Having Fun: Time and time again I hear young people say the number one reason they want to be involved in sports is to have fun.  As a coach I (we) are challenged to make sure this happens within the community and environment of our track program.  I (we) have found fun can be had while also demanding hard work, commitment, respect, and discipline.  While demanding these things we also foster support, care, love, kindness, grace, relationships, and the opportunity for team members to be themselves.
  4. Mental Fortitude:  This year one of our athletes was state champion in the 100m and 200m sprints.  He also anchored the state champion 4x200m relay team, and the 2nd place 4×100 relay team.  I can tell you that the 100m and 200m races were won before this young man got on the bus in the morning to head to the meet.  He had ran them over and over so many times in his head that there was no doubt in his mind that he was going to win.  The only people that didn’t know were the people watching the track meet, and the other young men he was racing against.  The positive mental approach to sports can not be overlooked.  Being mentally strong is a huge asset to all coaches and athletes.  I recommend for all coaches and athletes to read the book “With Winning In Mind” by Lanny Bassham.
  5. Mental Fortitude #2: When submitting names of relay team members coaches can include an alternate or two per relay. We hope we never have to use the alternates, because that usually means someone had an injury that prevented them from running.  Saturday we had to use our alternate.  The lead off runner for both of our relays was injured Saturday morning while he was competing in the long jump.  We knew right away that he was done for the day, and while tending to him and making sure he got the help he needed at the training table we quickly got our alternate ready to go. Our alternate was a freshman who had never ran either relay, who had never practiced starts with a baton, and who had never done a blind hand off.  But I knew mentally he was strong, and physically he could perform the task.  We taught him hand offs, and how to start with a baton, and then we and his teammates coached him up.  From the time he was ready to go to the time the relays were finished his “I’ve got this” attitude and confidence allowed him to do the job he needed to do for us.  I was sad to see our lead off man go down. Sad for him, because he put so much into this season, and because he is such a great kid. I was happy for the young man who stepped in, and for the rest of the team members for doing their collective best for all of 5 of the team members.
  6. Love and Relationships:  As coaches the two most important things we can offer our athletes is our unconditional love, and a relationship with us.
  7. More Than Sports: I’m convinced yet again that what we do as coaches involves so much more than the sport itself.  When we only focus on the sport we miss out on so much more. We miss out on the opportunity to get to know some great young people, to engage in their lives on a personal level, to teach about all aspects of life, and to have a positive impact and influence on their lives.  The real win as coaches is when young people leave our programs a better version of themselves than when they started, and they go out and have great impact on our world.
  8. Respect: Aretha sang about it best, and the young people I work with remind me that they will give me their respect if I give them mine.  We have to respect the athletes we work with as the valuable people they are.  We are to treat them with respect, talk to them with respect, and coach them with respect.
  9. We Will Make Mistakes: Coaches and parents will make mistakes, and the mistakes we make can have a detrimental impact on the athletes we coach.  We need to be careful folks.  When we make mistakes we need to apologize and move on.  If we linger in our mistakes we can do great damage to our athletes … our sons and daughters.
  10. Coaching With My Bride: The last five years I have been able to coach alongside my beautiful wife, Heidi.  She is the Head Track and Field Coach and the Head Cross Country Coach at Homedale High School.  She makes it easy for me and the other assistants to do our jobs, and her love and care for the athletes on her teams is amazing.  Coaching together these last five years has brought me great joy.  One of the things we are able to do, hopefully, is model for the young people a healthy marriage and family.

 

 

 

4.5.17 ~ Wednesday Devotion

Going to take a break from Matthew today and share some thoughts I picked up as I was studying for my sermon last week.  Our reading for today comes from Ephesians 4:1-3.

Here it is for you if you don’t want to click on the link.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

As I have already shared this was my text this past Sunday morning, here is a link to the audio.

For the sake of this post I really only want to focus on the attributes or virtues listed in verse 2.  While each of these attributes would serve any coach well as they live out their calling as a coach I was particularly drawn to the idea of being completely gentle.

One of the commentaries I use when I study was written by a guy named William Barclay.  In the volume titled The Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians,He writes about gentleness or meekness as some versions translate the meaning of the Greek word praotes (noun) or praus (adjective).

Here is what Barclay writes (page 161 – 162)

It was Aristotle’s custom to define every virtue as the mean between two extremes.  On the one side there was excess of some quality, on the other there was defect; and in between there was the quality in exactly its right proportion in life.  Not Aristotle defnies praotes as the mean between excessive anger and excessive angerlessness; it is the mean between being too angry and never being angry at all.  The man who is praus is the man who is always angry at the right time and never angry at the wrong time.  To put that in another way, the man who is praus is the man who is kindled by indignation at the wrongs and the sufferings of others, but who is never moved to anger by the wrongs and the insults he himself has to bear.  So then, the man who is meek is the man who is always angry at the right time, but who is never angry at the right time.”

I don’t know if you like thinking about gentleness or meekness in this light, but I know it was helpful for me.  When I turned to the life of Christ to see how Jesus modeled gentleness for us I was reminded of the two extremes of Jesus turning over the tables of the money changers in the temple and Jesus not saying a word before Pilate, seeking salvation to the thief who hung next to Him on the cross, and asking His Father to forgive those who hadn’t a clue what they were doing.

How does gentleness relate to coaching?  My suggestion would be to learn when you can be angry and when  to learn when you can’t when working with your student athletes.  I’m thinking too that because of the context gentleness is best done when practiced in concert with the other virtues listed. Humility, patience, and love are right there with gentleness.  When coaching for maximum impact in a student athlete’s life you have to coach with gentleness.

I would argue that anger for the sake of anger is not going to produce good results, but the opportunity to live in a space of gentleness and knowing how to properly voice your frustrations would be very helpful.  I am also learning that knowing when not to express your anger is very important.

The other definition of the word Praus that we translate to gentleness or meekness is important as well.

Here are Barclay’s words again (page 162)

Praus is the Greek word for an animal which has been trained to obey the reins or the word of command, an animal which has been trained and domesticated until it is completely under discipline and under control.  Therefore the man who is meek, praus, is the man who has every instinct and every passion, every motion of his mind and heart and tongue and desire under perfect control.  It would not be right to say that such a man is entirely and completely self-controlled, for such self-control is beyond human power; but it would be right to say that such a man is God-controlled.  He is the man on the tiller of whose life is the hand of God.

What do you think of this definition of gentleness?

Here is what happens when we put them together.

Words are again directly out of William Barclay’s apology I referenced earlier. (Page 162)

Here then is the second great Christian virtue, the second great characteristic of the true member of the Church.  He is the man who is so God- controlled that he is always angry at the right time, but never angry at the wrong time; he is a man in whom self has died and whose whole life is directed and controlled by God. “

As coaches following Jesus, we need to understand the virtue of gentleness as we deny ourselves and pick up our crosses on a daily basis.  We need to trust the complete humility, complete gentleness, patience, and love as we make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace in the Body of Christ.

We need to remember Jesus is bigger than any sport we might ever play or coach and we need to set our priorities accordingly. Advocating humility, gentleness, patience, and love is a good place to start.

Wednesday Devotion ~ Matthew 4:1-11

Our Scripture reading for this week is Matthew 4:1-11, the story of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness before after He was baptized and before He started His ministry.

There are several nuggets for us to glean as followers of Christ and as coaches.

We learn in this passage that we, like Jesus, are to “stand strong” in the face of temptation.  When we are faced with temptation let’s remember to lean on God, and not turn our backs on Him.  The “tempter” will visit us, just like the “tempter” visited Jesus, and like Jesus we need to be ready to combat these attacks.  Jesus used Scripture to do this, and provides for us an example of why know Scripture in our soul is very important.  We may need to quote Scripture to refute the advances of the evil one, or at least utter the words “away from me Satan!”

I read that Jesus was a person of integrity and convictions.  Jesus did not go against what He knew to be true in God.  As coaches we are role models and are to set the example for the athletes entrusted to our care, just like Jesus did with His disciples.  We recognize a great need to have integrity as we coach our teams, making sure our yes is yes and our no is no, and making sure we don’t say anything we aren’t willing to follow through on.  I recognize the need to be willing and able to only ask and expect of our teams what we ask and expect of ourselves.  Let’s make sure we are modeling our moral integrity and convictions of faith and belief.

Jesus was focused on the eternal value.  He could have given in to the devil’s pleas on chosen a different path, but instead He looked at the eternal significance of what He needed to do and instead chose to honor God and focus on eternal value.  As we keep our focus on God and as we work with the athletes on our team as Christ-centered coaches we need to focus on the eternal ramifications.  The young people we coach are either already brothers or sisters in Christ, or potential brothers and sisters in Christ, and we need to interact with them as such.  We must understand that in the process of coaching we can’t say or do things that will harm the opportunity for our athletes to know the love of God.  We have to focus on the eternal, everlasting life with Jesus Christ.

To be sure we will be tested in our coaching and life endeavors as well.  I know I have been and will continue to be.  While I often don’t respond the most appropriately in times of trial and temptation, I believe my heart is in the right place and my goal is always to respond like Jesus has taught us.  Good think our learning is a journey and takes time to figure all of this following Jesus stuff out.

The other thing I see here as I wrap this post up, is Jesus’ utter dependence on God.  As follower of Jesus we need to do the same, as Christian coaches we need to do the same.  We, like Jesus, must have total dependence on God!

3.22.17 ~ Matthew 1-3

A new feature on Coaching Like Jesus.  The goal is to post Scripture for you to read and corresponding thoughts related to coaching once a week.  I’m shooting for Wednesday as publish day.

As I consider what it means to coach like Jesus, I also have to consider what it means to live and be like Jesus in all aspects of life.  Coaching is not  exempt from being Christ like, just like how all other areas of life are not exempt from being like Jesus. To best understand how to be and live like Jesus in all areas of life, including in our coaching, we have to turn to Jesus. A good place to turn to Jesus, and to learn to live like Him and be like Him, is the Bible.

I’m simply a companion on this journey, and the Holy Spirit is our constant guide and teacher.  As your companion I will post Scripture for us to read, and then I will offer thoughts on the words we read as they relate to coaching and life.  Feel free to interact with me as you have comments or questions.

This week I would like for us to read from Matthew 1-3, and I have included a link to www.biblegateway.com which is a good resource for Bible reading and Bible study.

I’m not going to cover the first couple of chapters from Matthew in this post, but encourage you to read them as you remember and perhaps familiarize yourself with the story of Jesus.  In my first podcast I referenced Matthew 1-2, and considered what it means to be called and set apart as coaches, just like Jesus was called and set apart to do the ministry He did during His time on earth.  Here is a link to the podcast.

As we get in to chapter 3 of the book of Matthew we come in contact with John the Baptist.  John the Baptist’s role was to prepare people to receive the message of Christ when it was time for Jesus to being His ministry.  Of course John also played a pivotal role in the life of Jesus as the one who baptized Jesus at the start of Jesus’ ministry.

John was a God bearer.  He pointed other people  to Jesus, understanding full well in humility that “it” wasn’t about him, and that his role was to help other people come to a place of being ready to accept Jesus.  This is where, as coaches, we can be like John as we understand our role in the Kingdom of God.  We, are also God bearers.  As we live our lives and interact with the people God has instructed and called us to interact with we are to point other people to Jesus.

We understand that “it” is not about us, and that in humility we live our lives and function in a way that other people are drawn to God and a relationship with Him through Jesus. Essentially we are co-laborers with Christ as we take on this role of God-bearer desiring that all of those we interact with; assistant coaches, athletes, parents, fans, media, or school administration would be pointed towards God as they interact with us.

Some questions come to mind as we consider coaching as God-bearer?

  • Does this mindset change the way I interact with my players and assistant coaches?
  • Do we respect those under our care as potential fellow brothers and sisters in Christ?
  • Is there anything in how we currently coach that we need to change or work on in order to better bear Christ to those around us?

Thanks for reading.  May the Holy Spirit guide you as we study the life of Christ.

“Mentoring Matters”

Yesterday, I finished reading “Mentoring Matters, What Every Mentor Needs to Know” by Tom Osborne.  I recommend this book to anyone who works with children and youth in any capacity.  As a father, mentor, pastor, and coach I found Osborne’s thoughts and reflections to be accurate and encouraging.

I would like to share a couple of longer sections from the book with you, while at the same time encouraging you to purchase the book.

Osborne’s final thought of the book:

“No country is more than one generation away from serious decline.  The best way to protect the nation is to ensure the nation’s young people are properly equipped to be responsible and productive citizens.  Mentoring serves as a powerful instrument to nurture young people so they can realize their full potential and contribute to the common good.  If we fail to invest time, love and guidance in our children we do so at our own peril.”

And from Coach Osborne’s summary at the end of chapter 7 on “Coaching and Mentoring:

“In summary, I observed a coach can have a very important role in mentoring his players.  Players are more impacted by a coach’s actions, how he deals with them, and how he lives his life, than by his words alone.  If a coach deals with players honestly and keeps promises, then he will be trusted.  If a coach is consistent in his treatment of players, win or lose, they will gain confidence in him.  If a coach is a good teacher, uses decent language and acts professionally they will gain respect for him.  If a coach teaches sound values, and promotes strong character they will appreciate his part in molding their value system, particularly as they move on in their lives.  If a coach looks at adversity as an opportunity to learn and to get better, rather than giving up or becoming negative, players will learn a very important life lesson in meeting the difficult challenges they will encounter later in life.  A coach who instills strong discipline and a powerful work ethic in his players will have taught them that good things don’t come easily, that achievement comes with a price.  And finally, by recognizing that the spiritual side of human nature, that which calls us to the best and highest within us, is important and needs to be nurtured just as much as physical and mental preparation, a coach can add a dimension of meaning and purpose which will last a lifetime.”

Reflections on a 7th Grade Season

This year, for the first time in my life, I coached 7th grade girls basketball.  I was the 7th grade girls coach for both the “A” and “B” teams at Homedale Middle School and had a total of 14 young women between the two teams that I had the honor of coaching and spending time with the last 2 months.  Our season finished yesterday, the “A” team took second in our conference tournament, and as I have reflected over the season the past few days, I thought I would share some thoughts.

First for some statistics, the “A” team finished the season with a record of 9-3, and like I have already shared we finished 2nd place in the season ending tournament.  As a team we averaged 23.33 points per games, while holding our opponents to an average of 18.41 points per game. Only once did an opponent score 30 or more points on our defense.  We didn’t keep any other measurable basketball statistics, but from observation I can assure you that these girls improved in every facet of the game over the course of the year.

The “B” team finished the season with a record of 3-7, but this record does not reflect how much they grew as individual players and as a team.  Six of the eight girls on this team had never played competitive basketball before and their understanding of the game grew tremendously over the course of the year.  Observing them all season, from the first day of practice to the last game, it was incredible to see how much they improved in such a short amount of time.  Some of them even fell in love with the game, which warms my heart greatly.  A statistical observation I did make to track their progress was the margin of defeat, or victory, the second time we played each team.  The margin of defeat was way less the second time we played teams, and in one case we turned a 30 point loss the first time we played in to a victory the second time around.  Each of the girls on this team greatly improved as basketball players.

Not important but possibly of interest, my winning percentage as a coach is now at 78%.

Now for some other, more relevant, thoughts, as they pertain to coaching, coaching like Jesus, and working with young people.

As I drove away from the middle school gym last night I was struggling with our defeat.  Usually, I shake losses pretty easy, but this one was lingering.  I went through my thoughts to try and figure out why.  Was it because I don’t like to lose?  Yes this is true.  To quote my good friend, Mike Matteson, “I love to win, but I hate to lose.” Was it because we loss to Fruitland?  Yes absolutely, sorry to all of my Fruitland friends who might be reading this, I hate losing to Fruitland.  While these two reasons impacted how I felt I think the real reason I was struggling to get over the loss was because I felt bad for the girls.  They worked so hard all year, and I wanted them to come out on top.

I was also struggling with more than just losing the game.  I always dislike the end of the season because the end of the season always ends so abruptly and the season ending means I don’t get to spend time every day with my players anymore.  I was sad because I knew my routine would now change, and I wouldn’t get to see these girls every day anymore.  This is one of the reasons I focus on loving the players and developing a relationship with them so that even though the season may end the relationship with the players does not end.  The way I see it, if I coach a player once at any point in their life, I am their coach for life.  I will always see them as my player, I will always be there for them, and I will always try to encourage and love on them.

I always get emotional during the last game and in the locker room afterwards.  Usually at the end of season awards banquet as well.  I get too attached, I love the boys and girls I have the honor of coaching as my own, and I want what is best for them.  After the last game, in the locker room, I always try to say a few words, and last night those words were hard to get out.

Last night, I even started crying during the game.  I always have something to say to my players when they foul out.  Usually I say something along the lines of “congratulations, you used all five of your fouls, good job.” Last night, two of my players fouled out, and I don’t really remember what I said to them I just remember that I choked up while I was saying it.

I think this is what happens when coaching is about more than just the game. You get attached. You love the players.  You care about the players. You want what is best for them. Kind of like being a parent, I guess.

As a father I only have sons, 3 of them.  Heidi, my wife, says it is good that I coach girls, because coaching them helps me be a better person.  In many ways they become like daughters to me, at least that’s how I see them.  I also recognize that it is a good thing that I don’t have my own biological daughters I would be way to over protective with them.  I have coached girls in track the last 4 years and have had a cool opportunity to connect with them they indeed are part of my family.  I guess I just gained 14 more family members.

At the beginning of the season I told the girls, as I do with all of my basketball teams, that they were to work hard, have fun, and love and respect each other.  They did a good job of all three.  As a coach I told them my job was to love them.  I’ve gotten a lot better at expressing this love verbally to my players over the years.  I have no problem saying I love you to my wife or sons, but when I first started coaching didn’t know how that would come across to my players.  Now, I don’t care.  Now I just tell the young people I coach that I love them, because I just don’t want them to know, I want them to hear it too.  Sometimes I tell the whole team at once, and sometimes I tell them on an individual basis. The cool thing is when they say it back.

In my mind loving my players and telling them I love them has to do with coaching with love as the foundation as opposed to fear.  I would rather coach from a place of love and mutual respect, and I have seen over the last 5 seasons and in the research that I have done that players would rather play for a coach who loves them in a team environment based on love and family, instead of playing for a coach who uses fear as his or her foundation for motivation.  Players play harder for themselves, each other, and the coach in a loving team environment.

My final reflections.  I was impressed by how hard these young ladies worked.  They worked hard in practice and they worked hard in games. They never backed down from any challenge I put in front of them, and they embraced the style of basketball I wanted them to play and thought would give us the best chance at being successful.  I’ve been around basketball for a while and I would put this team up there with anyone team I’ve played on or coached in regards to their toughness, determination, and grit.  One of the girls is the toughest and most determined player I’ve ever coached, and her teammates are right up there with her.

Like I said I’ve been around the game of basketball for a while.  I started playing competitively in the 3rd grade, and played every year through elementary, middle, and high school, before playing three years of college basketball.  I have to say this one of the more enjoyable basketball experiences of my life.  I didn’t know what to expect going in, and I was a bummed about not coaching at the high school this year, but I can safely say that this is just what I needed as a person and as a coach.  These girls helped me be a better coach, and I will always take with me the lessons they taught me this year.

Now, I move on to 8th grade boys.  Our season starts after Christmas, and I get to coach my son.  I’m excited.

I might have some more reflections later, but this is good for now.