Thursday, March 25, 2010

these girls and this sport rock my world...

I can't even begin to express the way that these girls and the game of basketball bring me to life. We had our end of the season team party this week and boy oh boy did it have me wondering what keeps me from pursuing this basketball coaching thing a little bit more seriously. I'm tellin' ya there aren't many things in this great, big world that I get more fired up about than sharing this sport with young women and I feel pretty darn lucky to have had that opportunity back in my life over the past few months.

Our team party rocked, all the girls were there and I got a chance to mingle with the parents, who quite honestly I completely blocked out during games, so it was the first time I really had a chance to chat with them and it was lovely. I got so many parents thanking me for coaching the girls and telling me how it was just wonderful that there are female role models for girls in the world of sports these days. All I could think about while parents were telling me this were the many amazing role models that I have been lucky enough to have thanks to this sport, especially my rockstar college coach, who was a woman - and a super strong one at that. Basketball for me is one of the most formative experiences of my life. My coaches impacted my personal development more than any teacher I ever had. In fact when I really think about it, I'm not sure if it was the sport that I originally fell in love with or the role models I found through it.

I know I've said it before but it's the gosh darn truth-basketball is just so much more than a sport to me -it's a mirror of life. (i apologize for the cheese here). And what warms my heart more than any of the x's and o's, fundamentals etc. are the glimpses of the heart and character of individuals and groups that come out through the sport.

Of the hundreds of character unveiling moments that I was lucky enough to witness this season, here are a couple that stick out for me...

1) Our team was especially strong at the guard position and about mid-way through the season we realized that we needed to take some of the scoring burden off of our guards and ask our post players to step up a bit. One Sunday we dedicated nearly an entire practice to working on post moves. We had some good height, but the girls were timid. We drilled into them that they needed to go up STRONG and not shy away from or be afraid of contact. I played defense on the girls and told them to not be afraid of using their strength to go up against me. We did this over and over and the girls really got it.

During our next game, Katie, our tallest and one of our more timid players (up to this point) found her strength on the court and it absolutely made my heart melt. She got a rebound and instead of cowering and not being sure of herself she gathered herself and went up strong and got fouled! Exactly what we worked on! I must have had a smile a mile wide on my face. It wasn't just because Katie had done something great in a basketball sense, I was smiling because I knew that this little moment was also a big personal success for Katie. It allowed her to see what she was capable of, and from that moment on the truth is Katie was a completely different basketball player.

2) We got off to a bit of a rocky start. We reached a low point after our loss to Woodside. The game marked our 3rd or 4th consecutive loss. After the game, we gathered in a corner of the gym and sat down and had a longer post game chat than usual. It was important to me to try to convey a message that just because we had lost a few games, this in no way meant that it was acceptable to throw in the towel on our season. Cheesy as it was, we went around in a circle and I asked each girl to look me in the eye and tell me that they believed in the team. They did it and what was even better, they came to practice on Wednesday ready to get after things and work hard and you know what, they must have really meant it when they told me that they believed because we won every game from there on out for the rest f the season. I couldn't be more proud of the girls for refusing to give in and for finishing our season on "a make." Their grit and guts to fight back from a losing season was another heart melter.

I love that in every basketball season there are about a million and one behind the scenes special moments when a girl encounters something challenging and then is forced to figure out a way to work towards overcoming it. I love the way that small victories build confidence and give girls glimpses of the greatness that is inside of them. I love that all their greatness is not revealed at once and that it takes lots of hard work to dig in and find the greatness sometimes, because all that hard work, well, it builds character. And I love that because in the end, these girls are probably not going to go onto the WNBA or anything, but they will face plenty of other challenges in their lives and I hope that the small successes they find through hard work on the basketball court will transfer over to a belief in themselves that through perseverance, a positive attitude some hard work and dedication, they can overcome whatever life might throw their way and achieve whatever their hearts desire.

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