Sunday, March 23, 2014
...jogging helps one to think. As fate would have it, I've been pounding the mileage these last few weeks.
Last autumn I was offered an opportunity to coach a group of young men, 6th graders, during the upcoming basketball season. Since the current local high school coach forbids parents from coaching their sons & daughters once they reach junior high, I figured taking on this challenge could possibly help my 7th grade son's eventual varsity team, when all of the most talented boys are lumped together for league play.
...one catch, however. The boys whom I was about to coach had yet to win a single game...in three years of competitive play.
Having a substantial amount of experience, this appeared to be a formidable task.
Once we hit the hardwood, back in mid-November, I came away thinking that maybe these boys weren't as troublesome as advertised. They yearned for knowledge, worked hard at drills, soaked up every last history lesson I offered, and begged for more. I was pleasantly encouraged.
Lightening struck during our first game. I promised the boys that if they followed my instruction, played as hard as they've ever performed on the court, by the time our opposition called their first time out, we'd be ahead by ten.
I was wrong.
Two and a half minutes into the game, when they called timeout, we were up by twelve.
These boys won their first game by twenty-three points.
Despite a few hiccups along the way, we finished the season with 7 wins, knocked off our undefeated rival, and closed out the year with a third place tourney finish.
Not bad for a group of boys who'd been given up on far too early in their athletic careers.
It wasn't long after the season, when the varsity coach came calling...
He'd been receiving phone messages from the parents of the 6th grade team. They were already inquiring as to next season's coaching staff, and were requesting me for the honor.
"So...what do ya think?" I was asked.
"Are you asking me to join your coaching staff?"
"I can't ignore the parents. And you did some great things with those boys. If you want the job, it's yours. We'd have to talk money of course, cross the t's and what not, but absolutely, yes."
Up until this point, the locals considered me a dad, who knew a thing or two about basketball. What most of them didn't know, was that I was a coach years before my wife and I had our first child. Until that moment, they didn't realize that I was actually a coach, who was blessed with kids.
I wanted to blurt out "yes," and be done with it. Then just as quickly, realized my dilemma. Moving up to a position with the school meant that I'd get paid a salary, but in return, would lose every last minute that I'd been squandering for my writing. There was daily practice time to consider. Film sessions with the coaching staff. Sitting with the coaches during Friday and Saturday varsity games. Pep rallies. Hours upon hours, dedicated, and expected of me, in return for my services.
This would no doubt lead to spring AAU tournaments, and more coaching opportunities that I'd be expected to accept, as all up and coming coaching prospects do without batting an eye.
...moving on up, while leaving something behind.
"Can I have some time to think about this?"
"Sure can. We can talk about it some more over the summer. I'm sure we'll see each other at open gyms."
"Okay, sounds good."
"One thing to keep in mind, though. Coaching the 7th grade team automatically makes you the 8th grade assistant by default. This means that you'd be allowed some input on your son's team. Not to mention a front row seat. Just thought you should know."
...nearly a deal breaker.
"I'll definitely think about it. Thanks."
...and so, I've been running. A lot.
I truly love coaching. Shaping young minds, keeping our youth active. Too many positives to list.
The writing industry can be a troublesome bear, armed with claws and an unwillingness to negotiate one's passion, regardless of their achievements or work ethic.
And yet...as we all know, walking away is simply out of the question. We stand tall, face the bear, and trudge onward.
My thirteen year old son plays basketball almost every day. We send him to all the best camps. Allow him every opportunity to succeed. And he's pretty darn good.
My daughter also plays. Her team won their championship this past season.
My soon to be adopted one year old, (a story for another day ;) is already dribbling his ball around the house.
...and I'm still jogging, still thinking.
Opportunities are like tests of one's will. As if fate is asking, "How bad do we really want something?" "What are we willing to sacrifice in order to achieve our goals?"
Tough questions...difficult answers to come up with.
In the meantime, I'll keep jogging.
Thanks for reading ;)