Way back on the radio dial; a fire got lit inside a bright eyed child.
I’m not a big country fan, but this song encapsulates the reason why I love to coach, especially in the summer time. There’s something about chasing dreams, putting in work, believing that great things lie ahead of you due to that hard work. It’s such a cheesy idea, but I don’t care. It’s what I most enjoyed the most about playing ball as a kid, too. My best memories of basketball are from the summer… and I believe summers make kids better basketball players, and instills a sense of work ethic and pride that’s hard to do in the season.
Today marks our fourth week of training players individually. We’ve been working with players one on one (or sometimes with two or three players), and training them based on their individual needs. I think it’s been the most fun coaching we’ve done. It might be the most effective, too. Based on this conversation with Brian McCormick on his blog last April, I think I may make it a permanent part of our player development, even in-season. Trumps any summer camp we could have done, too.
…Old enough to get there but too young to get inside.
So I would stand out on the sidewalk.
Listen to the music playin’ every Friday night.
One of those kids I get to work with this summer is Squeek. Kid’s a 5th grader, and tiny. Maybe 4 feet tall. But she shows up every week at 9 am, all by herself. Comes early to open gyms, twice a week.
She’s getting better.
We’ve worked hard on basic movements, like “sticking” a jumpstop, pivoting, and changing direction (thanks Lee Taft). I’ve used some of my PGC power dribbling and passing observations in the finishing drills we do. She’s got a quick little hesitation move. I can’t wait to see her play against 6th grade travel teams next year.
“Squeek” is limited at her age. Her skills are developing. But instead of telling herself she can’t do it, or making an excuse, she’s taking advantage of every opportunity. When she runs with our 8th grade boys and girls, she’s not scoring off of them a lot, or stopping them. But she’s outside, listening to the music. Learning. Getting better. Hanging out with the older girls.
Falling in love with basketball.
I love helping those kids chase their dreams. I’m no Micah Lancaster. I screw up half my demonstrations. But I’m there on a Friday morning in July, chasing that dream with her. What better job is there?
Some dreams stay with you forever.
Drag you around and bring you back to where you were.
Some dreams keep on getting better.
Gotta keep believing if you want to know for sure.
“K12” is one of those older kids. She was our leading scorer and starting point guard for the 8th grade team last year. As a 7th grader.
She’s one of the best players I’ve ever coached, but she doesn’t believe that.
Last year was full of frustration as she developed. Despite an outstanding year, she was frustrated by turnovers and not shooting as well as she’d like. And her coach did a poor job developing her properly because his team was too big. Any feeling of excellence was lost with an early playoff loss to a team we could have beat.
She’s had every reason to go to the pool all summer, or be mad at basketball. Or coach!
But she’s here every week.
She doesn’t want to be good. Or better. She wants to be great.
She even signed up for a double session today. 90 minutes of wall sits, jump shots, crossovers, layups, and reverse pivots. I love coaching this kid. She’s got big dreams. Loves basketball. Doesn’t just play everyday, but works at it everyday. I’m inspired to challenge her every week.
And inspired by, despite how disappointing last year was for her, she believes in her dream. I think she’s starting to believe in herself, too. That’s a pretty damn scary thought for teams we have to play. I’m proud of her persistence, getting through disappointment and following her dreams in spite of it.
Keep on dreaming. Even if it breaks your heart.
I love the summer. Even I was disappointed in myself after last year. But something is cleansing, about the summer. We’re reinventing our program, and being better coaches. I’ve got two college kids – former students/players – giving up their time to help out. I think they know how important it is to have dreams. And to chase them.
I’m chasing mine. Working with these girls. Working with former students. Being an example of how to respond to adversity and disappointment. Helping kids chase their dreams.This is an absolute blast, and I’m glad we’re shaking it up this summer.
What better job is there?