Today in our afternoon basketball camp, I talked to the campers about shooting free throws but I gave a five minute introduction about what a coach looks for in a player. I spoke of two of the young ladies on my squad from the just completed year, Jenna, who was in attendance and Lizeth, who was not. I focused on Lizeth and why she will always have a place on any team I coach. It's not because she is the most talented player or tallest girl I've ever coached. It's because perhaps more than any player I've ever coached, Lizeth loves her team as a whole and her teammates individually with unconditional love. Every team/family/business/church needs Lizeths. This is from January 30, 2006 and is about another of my favorite teams.
I love Carly Simon. To me, she is the most beautiful singer of all time, at least from the 1970's forward. Heiress to the Simon and Schuster publishing empire, Simon married equally talented James Taylor, a union which did not last. While watching Ken Burns' documentary on baseball, I learned that Jackie Robinson and his wife, Rachel, lived with the Simon family while searching for a home in Brooklyn. A gifted writer, Carly Simon penned and performed a number of the definitive hits of the seventies. That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be is a young woman's questioning of marriage after witnessing devastation in lives of family and friends. You're So Vain was one of the most hotly debated songs of the decade as listeners argued over whether the subject of the ballad was Warren Beatty or Mick Jagger. My personal favorite Simon tune is Anticipation which debuted in 1971. The song allegedly was an amalgamation of her thoughts as she waited for a date with yet another rock star of the era, Cat Stevens. In 1974, Heinz Ketchup forever linked Anticipation with their product in one of the most famous television ads in history. You remember, the entire commercial was spent waiting for one drop of the world's thickest condiment to exit the bottle to adorn a waiting burger. That's not why I like it so much, though. Anticipation ended with my favorite line of lyrics of all-time: These are the good old days. I've written many words in my life but never have had any reflections which remotely approach these six words.
Last Friday marked the final basketball game of the season for my middle school girls. It was typical of our year. In a heart breaker, we fell short by one basket after trailing by seven points with under two minutes to play. Our team is a mixture of seventh and eighth graders but only one girl is in seventh grade. Traditionally, on the day of our last game, Westbury Christian Athletic Director Greg Glenn speaks to our eighth grade kids. Greg thanks them for their efforts on behalf of our school and how proud he is of the way they represented WCS. More importantly, I ask him to impress on the girls the importance of the day. Our lives are constantly filled with 'last times.' The last game, the last test, the last assembly, the last graduation. In adulthood, it becomes the last child, the last day of work, the last mortgage payment, the last good-bye. The good old days to me spring from a number of decades. It might be my fourth grade teacher (Mrs. Harris) reading to us after lunch. It could be my last birthday of high school or the last February 18th of my thirties. It might be my first game coaching in Tennessee or my last game coaching in Georgia. The Lord blessed us with a phenomenal gift called memory. It lets us live in various periods of our lives with recall at our command. What my basketball players have yet to grasp is that these are the best days of their lives. It might not have been the smoothest ride but they will look back on today with fondness. Over the years, I have told my players to look at the adults in the bleachers. I tell them every person sitting in the stands wished they could trade places with them. They don't understand but they will- someday. When I pull out team pictures, I see teenagers frozen in time. (Do you know the difference between girls' and boys' team photographs? The answer; smiles! Girls are radiant while boys want tough-guy images and scowl!) This team is history, just like every team I have coached. In several years, the kids I coach will have no idea who Dominique-Leticia-Brittany-Chelsey-Jonel-Ashlee-Roxanna-Tinu-Kamri-Veronica-Victoria are.... but I will. Their picture joins about twenty-five others. Maybe it gets a frame and finds a permanent spot on my wall. NO PROMISES! Way down the road, when I am old and gray, I'll look back at these young ladies and start singing Carly Simon once more- These ARE the Good Old Days.
Applicable quote of the day:
"Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days."
Steve (Coach of the 2005-2006 Lady Wildcats)
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