This is about one of my favorite players ever. It's from August 25, 2014.
In January of 2013, I wrote an entry on this site called The Value Of The Ball. It spoke of how the girls on my team did not esteem possession of the basketball as highly as they ought, leading to a number of complications, including defeat. Only two kids remain from that squad, Lizeth and Sydney, who are now eighth graders. We start practice first period the first week of school so we get a head start on the other schools we play. The flip side is that our practices are short, typically only thirty-five minutes. This puts a premium on organization and getting things done quickly. I like this new bunch of girls. Six are returning from last year and eight are brand new, with the emphasis on new! I use the vets, some of whom are only eleven, to demonstrate and teach and they have taught well. We add something new every morning, sometimes multiple skills involving simple drills. Simple, that is, until you have to perform them.
Today, we added several wrinkles; a crossover dribble move and a drill where you have to navigate cones around the lane to make a layup in as few dribbles as possible. Sydney did it in three, earning us a team prize tomorrow! Right before concluding our workoout, the experienced kids demonstrated a full court layup drill with two basketballs. The next shooter in line is the rebounder but the caveat is that you can never let the ball hit the floor after a shot. My six returnees flawlessly ran the drill, even handling a "Change directions!" command in mid-stream. In two minutes, the ball never touched the floor with the exception of dribbles. Having watched nervously from the sideline, we switched groups to the eight rookies. I let them go about forty-five seconds and the ball hit the floor every time it was shot. As we stacked it up, we laughed that it was an exact representation of how these now older kids did twelve months ago. They'll get better.
I always try to make a teaching point as we close. I asked them how they would handle an infant if they were babysitting. Would they ever drop the child or let them hit the floor? Of course not- a baby is precious! In basketball, having the ball in your possession is everything but young players, and sometimes older ones, are careless with it. I told them about Olaide, a young lady they don't know who played for me in the dark ages. OK, it was only thirteen years ago but it seems like an eternity now. I was Olaide's coach in both her seventh and eighth grade years as well as her varsity coach in ninth grade. She was a good athlete but did not have as much basketball background as my other players. But this is what she did. Every time she was in a shooting drill, she NEVER let the ball hit the ground! That may not seem like a big thing to you but to a coach, it is huge beyond description. You see, there is no such thing as a bad second shot- most rebounds are in the lane- and Olaide put herself in that position constantly. Why don't all players do that? IT'S TOO MUCH WORK! IT TAKES NON-STOP EFFORT! And not many kids are up to that level of desire. Do you know that effort is now considered a skill by college recruiters/pro scouts? Times have changed.
Olaide is a pharmacist now and is the kind of young lady who will undoubtedly change the world. I stay in touch a little bit through her brother, Sheyi, who now sits in my Gospels class. (I also taught and coached a third sibling, Tosin, who rewrote the Parable Of The Good Samaritan more hilariously than you would think possible!) I would imagine Olaide pursued her graduate studies in pharmacy with the same attitude as she pursued the ball. Nothing was ever half-way with Olaide. What did Jesus call that half-way demeanor? Luke warm? No place or praise for half hearted efforts in the classroom or in the athletic arena or the family or the community. Especially not in the Kingdom of Heaven. We can't let our efforts to shine the Gospel drop silently to the ground. Treat the Word like it's the most precious thing on earth. It is.
Applicable quote of the day:
"The one thing I do that nobody else does is jump three and four times for one rebound."
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