Sunday, February 10, 2019

Cry Me A River

My middle school team ended our game schedule two weeks ago but we have a practice period so we still meet every day. We still have our end of the year party and new t-shirts to look forward to! The following is why I love coaching middle school girls. It's from January 29, 2011.

Our basketball season ended on Tuesday. We won our last game, 33-24, over a home school team that wasn't bad. All the kids logged significant minutes as we played one of our better games of the 2010-2011 campaign. We concluded the year with a 12-10 record, much better than the 4-5 wins I had mentally predicted. Middle school schedules are both compact and scattered. One weekend, we played four games in twenty-four hours and then we went twenty-five days without playing at all. We made a bunch of memories along the way. Our assistant coach, Katy Shirley, was the object of much flirting from referees and even coaches, one of whom wanted to set her up with his son. We rejoiced each time a girl with limited playing time scored or sometimes, even came close to scoring. Late in the season, we went on a three game winning streak when our middle school principal, Casey Farris, played The Gap Band's You Dropped A Bomb On Me during timeouts. And as always happens, the end came suddenly. When the final horn for the season sounded, we lined up for the traditional hand shakes with our opponents. And as we always do, we talked for a few moments behind the bench. I mentioned uniform turn in- due Monday, laundered, and in a plastic bag with your name written on it. But right before we prayed, the oddest thing happened; the Lady Wildcats had an outbreak of tears. I've coached girls a long time but this caught me off guard. It wasn't only one or two girls and it wasn't only the eighth graders whose next game will be in high school. It was both a spontaneous and contagious outpouring. We made it through the AMEN and I sent them home.

What was interesting to me about the crying is that we aren't finished as a team. We have first period practice every day of the school year so we will still be together as a team seventy more times. The next morning, we met in my classroom, voting on awards and writing thank-you notes to folks who helped us. The subject turned to the post-game emotion. I asked what caused the waterworks. Taylor-post (read Monday's entry, In Name Only, to understand Taylor's quirky name) responded,

"Coach, you told us you loved us."
Jada chimed in with,
"And that it was an honor for you to coach us."
That, my friends, is coaching middle school girls' basketball in a nutshell. Even though I have often expressed those sentiments before, the timing was just right for a tearful reaction. I don't want you think it was all peaches and cream with this group. We had our issues- being on time, grades, silliness, etc.- but it comes down to the relationships you develop and the bonds I made with less than a dozen newly and near teens that made this a special year for me. It reinforced with me the power of words on hearts, especially when the hearts are wide open. In Jesus' Parable of the Talents, the four soils where the seed landed represent the types of hearts of those listening. The path, thorns, and rocky soil allowed no long term growth of the seed, the Word of God. But as for the good soil, it turned into a bumper crop of righteousness. That's how I see these girls- Good Soil. They'll make mistakes and have their hearts broken but they can do wonderful things in the Kingdom of Heaven. The Scriptures tell us the good soil produced 100-60-30 times what was sown; these girls will put up some amazing numbers of their own. On Tuesday, they watered the soil with the most precious type of irrigation ever devised, their own tears. That's why I'm so blessed that these kids call me Coach.

Applicable quote of the day:
“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief...and unspeakable love.”
Washington Irving

God bless,
Steve/Coach Hawley
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at


Beth said...

This is a beautiful post. Thank you!

Docmench. said...

So touching (the quote).

Anonymous said...

You just never know who you will touch with what you say do you? Either good OR bad, I guess that's where we should let the Holy Spirit filter our speach more...I need this more than most :) Nice blog, sounds as if they were lucky to have you as their Coach.

Belle said...

I wish a teacher would have told me they loved me. Love is so powerful. Wonderful post.

Anonymous said...

The story almost made me cry. I remember my season with you and I wouldn't change anythiing that happened at all. I miss you so much!You are loved by everyone you know because you touch their hearts so dearly. Love You!

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

A very heart touching experience. I like when you say: "The power of words on hearts." How true. Makes me wonder many times a kind word could have changed someone's life.


Jacob said...

Good post, and a good season your team had.