A funny thing happened on the way to supposedly leading my daughter and her friends to basketball greatness. They all became awesome. But not necessarily at basketball.
My wife played college basketball. I played high school basketball. This is a basketball house. Doggone it, my four kids are all gonna be basketball players! I was determined to guide my daughter and whoever wanted to tag along, down the path to basketball greatness.
From 3rd grade through 8th grade, I was Maddie’s coach. I’d never coached before this adventure, but I knew basketball and I knew kids. I could figure it out as I went, right? Was I preparing them for high school basketball? Was I giving life lessons? Could I even communicate basketball in a language that young girls were able to grasp? Could I provide a path for each player to achieve greatness if they desired? Did these young ladies love the game of basketball? Would they become good high school players?
I thought the answer to all these questions was “YES”. I always reminded them that they were teaching me as much as I was teaching them. About life. About being a leader. About being a better communicator. But I’m sure none of the girls understood that they were unfortunate guinea pigs to my learning experiment.
When you learn on the fly you mostly learn by your own mistakes. And what was my biggest mistake?
I coached all of these girls as if they were basketball players for life. It turns out they were only basketball players through their middle school years for the most part.
My daughter Maddie is now a senior. Our high school’s basketball team will celebrate Senior Night this week. Maddie won’t be part of that celebration. Neither will 14 other girls that played together on that 6th grade team of 2009. Mandy is our lone senior basketball player. I find a great sense of pride and joy in Mandy’s basketball accomplishments…….from a distance now. As she finishes her career, I’m hit with doubts.
Now that she’s in the homestretch of her career, did I do all I could do to prepare her for success? To instill a great work ethic and to be coachable? To be a great teammate with a positive attitude? To enjoy the game? To play with confidence, to believe in herself?
And what about the rest of the players, knowing now the direction they took was away from basketball? The “should haves”. I should have laughed more and yelled less. I should have coached the looks on their faces instead of their actions on the court. I should have searched harder for small victories and successes for every single player. I should have coached less and cheered more.
But I don’t lose sleep with the regrets of “what ifs” and “should haves” though. Why? Because I know that Mandy has turned out to be an awesome young lady as well as a very solid basketball player. And when I look at the other girls from that 6th grade team (that seems like yesterday), I see that they also have moved on to be awesome in other activities.
Soccer, cross-country, track, volleyball, band, cheerleading, modeling, golf, archery, and more.
Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters
And they are, without a doubt………..AWESOME AT LIFE!
Coaches and parents, don’t set out with intentions to lead your kids to greatness. Instead, teach them to pursue excellence in all things. In doing this, they might just find greatness on their own.
Or in the case of Maddie and her middle school teammates…….awesomeness.
I can’t take any credit for this. But I can give thanks to the Lord for the times shared with these amazing young ladies. And I’m forever grateful for the lessons they taught me along the way.
We had a goofy catchphrase, “If you can’t do it right in practice, how do you expect to do it right in games?” The games are almost over. And I see that my girls, from a distance……….seem to be doing just fine.
Good luck Mandy. So proud to say I was once your coach!