Monday, January 22, 2018

The Price For Shipley's Do-Nuts

I often ask the Lord to give me something to write about. Sometimes, I feel an inspiration and pen a new devotional and sometimes, I use something I authored four or more years ago. I can't argue either way. If I reuse one, I guess there is someone who needed it. (My guess is very few people would remember a blog I constructed somewhere between 2006-2014 anyway!) If it's brand new, I feel the same way- there's a lesson in a new lesson. Honestly, I never saw this entry coming! Not in a million years!

My middle school girls' basketball team has fallen on hard times recently. Our schedule, through nobody's fault, was stretched out almost beyond belief. We played our last game before Christmas on December 12. We last practiced on December 15 and came back to school on January 9. We went thirty days between games and twenty-five days between practices. That's a lot of rust for kids with little experience. The games we've lost since the break were to schools having bigger kids with better skills but we lost to them by razor thin margins in November and by ten-plus points in the last week. One thing we really struggled with in the past two games was blocking out. That's a skill most middle school teams are weak at and the majority of high school girls' are as well. (To the non fan, blocking out is putting your body between the basket and your opponent when they shoot the ball- physical contact is required, not optional.) So at our practice this morning, I told the girls that if they held our opponent today to ten or less offensive rebounds this afternoon, I would go to Shipley's Do-Nuts tomorrow morning and get each girl what they wanted. To cement the deal, I had them tell me what they like: glazed donuts, donut holes, bear claws, chocolate filled donuts, strawberry frosted donuts, etc. We practiced blocking out in practice afterwards, like we do several times per week, but I was pretty sure I would not have to pay up. Like I said, it's not our strength.

We wound up winning the game four hours ago, not a big surprise as we had defeated this school by twenty points earlier this winter. The game ended with us ahead by ten but it was closer than that- their girls have really improved. As we took the court at tip-off, I reminded the kids of our bargain. I told them it's not a bribe, it's incentive! In the first two minutes, we gave up two offensive rebounds. After that, ZERO! None! Goose Egg! Nada! In all the years I've coached, I've never had a team do anything remotely close to that. I'm not sure we could do it again under any circumstances but we did today! We'll see if there is carryover- we play again tomorrow afternoon, again on the road. That deal is off the table...... but for one moment in time, it worked.

Why Shipley's? It's a Houston tradition and these kids love do-nuts! So at six AM, I'll be at the nearest location to WCS placing our order and Coach Watson, who works with us, is bringing the milk. You know, I've done the opposite before, making teams run sprints if they give up more than a set amount of offensive rebounds. Shockingly, that never carried the desired outcome! What's more effective, positive or negative reinforcement? Obviously, in teaching school and coaching basketball, there has to be some of both. If you're late, you don't start the game. If you don't turn in an assignment, your grade gets dinged. That's life and that's the learning curve we navigate if we want to make our existence meaningful and worthwhile. It's the same in the spiritual realm, I'm convinced. I have some victories over sin and some defeats at the hand of temptation. But more than ever, I'm more excited over the promise of heaven than fretting about the fires of hell. No donuts have been offered but maybe there will be some with chocolate icing and sprinkles waiting for me, metaphorically, in the sweet bye and bye. And I don't even have to block anybody out. Oh happy day.

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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