Tuesday, January 19, 2016

On The Same Page

Our basketball season ends in three days. One thing I enjoy about being a middle school coach as compared to high school is that the season is much more compacted. I hope I have made an impact on my kids this year like the men in this story made on me. It's from March 11, 2012.

It's not often in Texas that I find media outlets paying attention to basketball in my home state. This past Friday afternoon, I went to the website of the Omaha World Herald and read about the firing of the University of Nebraska's men basketball coach, Doc Sadler. It was an interesting read. The man who fired Sadler after six seasons coaching the Huskers was his good friend, Athletic Director and coaching legend, Dr. Tom Osborne. In fact, Coach Osborne seemed as broken up as the man he terminated. Sadler went out with class, even wearing a red and white tie and telling how his son will enroll at Nebraska in the fall. It all came down, as it usually does, to winning or lack thereof, even though Sadler's contract was extended only eleven months ago. Sadler, who is universally hailed as a great guy, will receive $3.4 million to not coach the Big Red anymore. Some firings are easier to swallow than others.

But that wasn't the only basketball related news I perused two days ago. You see, when I checked my mail box after school, I found my April edition of The Christian Chronicle, a  terrific monthly publication dedicated to news and issues within Churches of Christ. I always go though it front to back and while I don't read every article, I find many which pique my interest. When I made my way to page 23, I stopped and immersed myself in separate articles, except the items really weren't separate. On the page headlined Partners, in the top right corner, was a press release about Dale Neal winning his 700th college basketball game recently while coaching the women's team at Freed-Hardeman University. It noted that his squads from Henderson, Tennessee have qualified for the NAIA national tournament for fifteen consecutive seasons. Right below that notification was another that York College in York, Nebraska is constructing a new gymnasium which will be named after Colis Campbell and his lovely wife, Dolores. The write-up told how the Campbells had been vital staff members of YC when it reopened in the mid 1950s and an anonymous donor was funding the project that would honor this wonderful Christian couple. 

These two stories, heart warming as they are, missed the connection. You see, Dale Neal played collegiate basketball at York College and his coach was.... Colis Campbell. And it missed the connection that Dale Neal might not have become a Christian if it were not for Colis Campbell who recruited him from Eudora (Kansas) High School to come play for the Panthers. And something else was missing as well, something of life changing significance to me. You see, Dale Neal was my high school basketball coach at York High. And my college basketball coach? You guessed it- Colis Campbell. I would guess the odds are astronomical that a kid from small town Nebraska would have his high school coach and his college basketball coach honored in the same publication in the same edition on the same page and the articles would be contiguous. God in his infinite wisdom put these two men in the course of my life when I needed them, although confession requires me to admit I didn't always understand that wisdom in the course of my career which ended up only slightly short of the NBA. In Philippians 2, Paul speaks of his fellow worker, Epaphroditus, and instructs the believers to, "honor men like him." 

In my life, men like him were my coaches whose influence on me lives on in any teenager I coach or teach today. Doc Sadler, a good man and coach in spite of how it ended for him in Lincoln, is financially set for life. I doubt Coach Neal and Coach Campbell are monetarily wealthy, but they made some really good investments on some kids over the course of decades. My teammates and others who played for them, are their bank accounts. The deposits these coaches made will never be overdrawn.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Players respond to coaches who really have their best interests at heart."
Mike Singletary

God bless,
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

No comments: