We have our first game in six days! This is about my team of four years ago, from October 24, 2013.
We had our first encounter with another team today. After school, my middle school squad practiced with our high school junior varsity girls. We didn't keep score, instead working on situations. It was good for both groups. I warned my kids that the age difference would show up in size and strength and aggressiveness- it did. We acquitted ourselves well, I thought, and I enjoyed seeing the improvement in some of my former players who are now freshman and sophomores. The new young ladies who play for me discovered the validity of my statement that playing is exhausting and the only real way to get in shape is to actually play.
I really love this bunch of kids I have this year which is saying a great deal because I really loved the bunch I had last year. When I was a high school coach, I had kids with me for four years and in several cases, five. There is less turnover and more maturity but at the same time, more distractions. This season, I really rely on the four returning players; seventh graders Lizeth and Sydney and eighth graders Madison and Jenna. I run almost everything we do by them- I trust them and their judgment. I also know they have experienced a season before and know what to expect. When we do conditioning, we usually run relays. I put a traffic cone in the middle of the floor, put one of the vets in each of the four corners, and let them choose teams. (Several years ago, I read that American swimming relay team members always swim better times than they do in individual races, with the conjecture being they go harder knowing others are relying on them. I made the assumption it works in running sprints as well.) We run in sets of thirty touches of the cone and tagging your next teammate. Sometimes, for variety we add closing out and running backwards or several cones to touch before we get to the center one. Basketball is a game of short bursts so we try to do a maximum of starting and stopping.
Other coaches may disagree but I feel the perfect number on a basketball team is twelve because it's the number which breaks down perfectly into groups of three or four, the ideal numbers for drill work. Yesterday morning, we had a dilemma. Elizabeth is hurt and in a boot- she's out for six weeks and can't run. That left us with eleven which is not divisible by three or four. I pulled aside the two eighth graders and told them they would have to be a two player team. They knew what that means- they would have to run 1/3 additional sprints than the other girls with half the recovery time. The response of Jenna and Madison?
That was it. Their lot was more difficult and more was demanded of them but they trust me and they knew it was for the good of the team. They did not complain or make excuses when they did not win. They simply competed as best they could while at a distinct disadvantage. I made a big deal of it with the other kids; if the girls who've played before can sacrifice, we all can sacrifice. In Philippians 2:14, Paul writes 'Do everything without complaining or arguing.' Some translations us the term grumbling. The point is the same; do what you're asked for the benefit of all. That's not a popular sentiment culturally anymore but it's mandatory to have a healthy team and it all starts at the top. Well, as much of the top as girls who are twelve and thirteen can be! Sometimes, that's a lofty peak.
Applicable quote of the day:
"Life isn't fair. It's true, and you still have to deal with it. Whining about it rarely levels the playing field, but learning to rise above it is the ultimate reward."
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