Saturday, February 1, 2014

Observations from a Middle School Girls Basketball Coach

I must say that I love basketball!  Which suits me well this season, since I am coaching and four dwarfs are playing.  Some weeks this season, we (the prince and I ) have witnessed as many as 14 games and attended as many as six practices.  However as a former player (aka bench warmer), and a second year coach, here are some of the joys that I have experienced coaching my middle school girls.

My favorite part of basketball is practicing.  I love running with the girls. I enjoy laps, drills, and scrimmages. My philosophy has always been, not to ask the girls to do something that I myself an not willing to (attempt) doing.  So the first observation is this:  it is harder than it looks and the next day, I hurt a lot!  So maybe observations number two is, youth is wasted on the young. :)

It is awkward when the coach yells at the player shooting foul shots..." Take your time, you got this sweetheart!"  But then again, I have never really cared about awkward,  and as the momma of that player, I just wanted to let her know that not only does her coach think she can do this, so does her Momma! So observation next,  always be your dwarf's biggest advocate!

My least favorite part of basketball is the games. So much stress.  Adjusting strategy on the fly, remembering to use my time out's, trying to rotate as many of the players through as possible, the ups and downs, the comebacks, and the hard losses, and I have given up trying to sit in a seat!  But in this I have learned a lot about a middle school girls determination which leads to my next observation, when they put their minds to it, they can and will get the job done!  Sometimes it is not pretty, but the job gets done.

I know this is an obvious one, BUT a win is a win, a loss is a loss!   No matter if it is by one point or 20.  Regardless if we ran our offense or our defense  correctly or at all, at the sound of the last buzzer, If you are ahead in points you are the winner.  If you are behind in points you are not. You slap hands with the opponents, thank them for a good game, and head to the next game, knowing it is a new opportunity to play hard, grow and learn. 

When a girl (or boy for that matter) shows an interest in playing a sport, it is a great idea to get them in a program where they can learn the basics and grow to love the game.  This observation is basic human knowledge, but I believe it bears repeating, a child with a willing and teachable spirit will soar and grow and become confident in their skills and knowledge of whatever it is they are interested in. For this particular conversation it is basketball, however it applies across the board.   Lesson here: even though it is not easy directing a pile of giggling chatty girls, it is important to invest in the lives of young women,  to help them become well rounded and knowledgeable about the things that are of interest to them.

I love that the Doc is helping me coach. Again, I think this should be able to go without mention, but since it has brought me such great joy (and it's my blog after all) I am going to list it in my observations! No matter how old your kids are, it is important to find time and things to do together.  Spending time with Doc at practice and games has been great fun, I am sad when she is not able to make a practice or a game, and I am grateful that she balances me out, we make a pretty good team!

Again a statement of the obvious, but brings a smile to my face even as I type this, no two players are the same. Some have more natural ability, some have more style, some more flair, some have more determination, some have great height, some have great ball handling skills, some are play makers, some are point makers, some are encouragers, some are short tempered, some are longsuffering, some are fearful, others are bold, some are confused,  and none,  not one of them bounce when they hit the gym floor,  HOWEVER... when you roll them all together, they make a great team!

We are getting close to closing this 2014 season.  My life has been touched by each of these 17 girls.  I have finally gotten all their names correct, but still can not tell you which grades they are all in, or their parents first names, without thinking REALLY hard! I did not always make the best decisions during a game, nor was I always able to get everyone the playing time that they desired, but these 17 are always an encouragement to me and a blessing! 

Here are a few of my favorite quotes and questions from the season:

"Coach (at the conclusion of a nail biter of a game where only 6 of the 17 played, from a "bench warmer") This was the best game ever, it was so exciting, so much fun I felt like my heart might explode. I can't wait to play in a game like that!"   (insert the wide eyed innocence and sincerity of a sweet 5th grade girl)

"Coach, how do you know when you start tip off, which basket is yours, can you just pick one if you get the tip?" 

In pre game warm ups..." I think I am going to kick someone today?  You mean kick some bum today?  No, kick someone, I think I am going to have to use one of my fouls today."

"Coach, do you think I might play today?  I am not ready to play today?" To which I responded, "if you are dressed in your uniform, have attended all the practices and are sitting on the bench, there is the potential for you to play." "Can I go change?"

"What happens if I shoot the ball in the other team's basket during a game?"  " You will have scored two points for the other team."

"Why is that other team so mean, they keep stealing our ball."

Really, you can't make this stuff up, and I am glad!


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