Sunday, November 02, 2014


We have our first basketball game tomorrow. As is always the case, there are parts of the system we use defensively that we have to cover. One of them is defending ball screens which are used extensively by some middle school teams. In all the years of my coaching, I only had one player who was great at the technique. The following is from November of 2005. Jazmine, the subject of the story, is now all grown up!

We had our first basketball scrimmage yesterday. It went better than I expected . No coach ever thinks his/her kids are ready but we did OK. The team we played killed us last year but yesterday my experienced players more than held their own. Coaching junior high girls is an adventure- the unexpected is the norm. Most of my career has been on the high school level and I am still adjusting to the age-dedication-intensity differences. I love the kids I have. Some of them had never played in even a practice game before yesterday but they will get better. They make good grades and behave in their classes and that is more important to me.

All that brings me to Jazmine Washington. Jazmine played for me in middle school. You won't find her name on recruiting lists. We get alot of calls from college coaches about our female players but never one about Jazmine. She was not a great passer and her dribbling skills were average. Her scoring ability? I heard one of her ex-teammates, Kristin Robinson, say last week that Jazmine,
"had her own unique way of shooting the ball." That is a pretty accurate assessment. She didn't get a uniform her seventh grade year, only playing in games as an eighth grader. Those are the negatives. Let me tell you something else about Jazmine Washington. She covered ball screens better than ANYONE I have ever coached and that probably covers about 200 young ladies. (For the basketball illiterate, covering a ball screen means temporarily leaving the opponent you are guarding when she sets a screen for the player with the ball. You help your teammate until she recovers from being screened.) In junior high girls' basketball, almost everyone sets ball screens as a main part of their offense. To play effective defense, you have to be able to effectively cover these screens. That's why I had to have Jazmine on the floor. You need to realize that I have had a number of my players go on to the collegiate level. In fact, three of my former players are currently playing major college basketball and one made the All-Tournament Team last March in the NCAA Women's Final Four. But none of those girls did that one thing as well as Jazmine. I didn't teach it differently to any of the others but Jazmine absorbed the technique and put it into practice better than anyone else and there has not even been a close second. Jazmine was the master of what most fans would consider a "little thing" but it was a major element of our success. She rarely scored but she made it possible for us to keep the other team from scoring. That is how a team win games.

Sometimes people get overlooked in the game of life because they are not flashy. They don't get credit for the achievements of their family, team, organization, or business. They do what some consider the dirty or menial jobs but without that task being completed, everything breaks down. Helen Wilcox is a lady at Westbury Christian School who for a number of years was in charge our copy room. She ran off every test, quiz, syllabus, and worksheet for all of our fifty-plus teachers. When she missed several days for a funeral, the place fell apart. We didn't know the procedures or how the machines worked and chaos ensued. We may have taken her for granted but that changed quickly! Most groups have a Helen Wilcox. Jesus must have had several among his twelve. Very little is known about most of the apostles. One of the unsung is Andrew. Best known as Peter's brother, he is mentioned very rarely except in listings. BUT, when he is spoken of, he is invariably doing one thing- bringing people to Jesus. Andrew recruited his brother for the Messiah. He brought the boy with five loaves and two fishes to the Christ. In the final few days of Jesus' time on earth, Andrew introduced some Greeks to the Lord who sought an audience with the Master. That's about the extent of our knowledge about Andrew. There are no recorded sermons or healings or demons being banished. It looks like this apostle, like Jazmine, did one thing better than anyone else. Those type of underappreciated souls are invaluable.

I need to update you on Jazmine's basketball career. Well, the truth is, her career ended after eighth grade. Following one of her dreams, Jazmine tried out for and made our Varsity cheerleading squads at WCS both her freshman and sophomore years. She is tremendous at representing her school from the sidelines of the basketball court and the football field, in a skirt now instead of a jersey. Academically, this lovely young lady is very accomplished as well. Her grade as of this afternoon in my tenth grade Bible class? It's 100%. (Actually, it's 99.60% but our computer grading program rounds up.) Jazmine is the definition of what a student-athlete should be. She made me a better coach in her time as a player. Jesus taught us to be faithful in using what gifts we have whether they come in the one or five talent containers. Jazmine is my best example of using what she had. So, for all the Jazmines out there making the world better for the rest of us, let me end with Jesus' own words: "Well done!"

Applicable quote of the day:
"Don't let what you can't do interfere with what you can do."
John Wooden

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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Lauren said...

great story coach....which reminds me...when are you going to start your next book? -L.Bedevian

CoachSutton said...

Coach...I am on the bandwagon for some Jaz-mania. Great post!