“Defense Wins Championships.” – every basketball coach ever
This weekend at History Fair, my students pointed out that many boards weren’t done neatly, had very few words, or lacked analysis. I explained that every school does things differently, and ours are all organized and full of content. Analysis is tougher to get to, but we aim for that. One of our players (Kaitlyn) was there, and I related it to basketball. Teams reflect what their coaches emphasize. “What do we look like?” She responded, almost as if she’s sick of it: “Championship atmosphere and defense.” If we’re sick of it, I wonder how other teams feel. Our undisputed leader in this mantra of “Championship Atmosphere” and the mentality of “If they don’t score, we can’t lose” is Mackenzie. A few players are more talented. No player is a bigger part of this teams success. Our first starter profiled, and for a reason: she is our heart and soul.
Mackenzie was our most reliable summer trainee. Every week. She came alone, she’d come early, and she’d take every challenge. When our best player was injured on the eve of our two toughest games, she stepped up and led. And not in scoring – she had only 4 points combined in those road victories @ Jefferson and Lisle – but in attitude and energy. She physically fights. Hits the deck for loose balls. Refuses to get beat in transition. And mentally, she’s just as solid. Doesn’t pout about mistakes, and “plays present.” She committed only 2 turnovers against the toughest player in our league. Defensively, she’s a nightmare. Her short stature places her in an obnoxious position for taller ballhandlers, and her motor constantly drives her from spot to spot. You simply cannot get away from her. Coupled with the length and tenacity of her teammates, she’s the driving force of a defense allowing only 16 points per game. Only three times in 21 games has a team broken 30 points – only 5 have broken 20.
Mackenzie’s also the kid in my gym late, early, whenever. She never complains or whines, but asks for more. Her skill improvement is the result of 3 years trying to prove everyone she’s a basketball player, too, not just a soccer star. She’s succeeded. Her ballhandling skills have improved, so has her shooting. She goes left. She handles pressure. She’s got a nice little floater. Makes very few mistakes. But we would not have a Championship Atmosphere or caliber team without her attitude. We are not only lifted up by Mackenzie’s toughness: we are defined by it.
Let the playoffs begin. If defense helps us win a championship, it will be Mackenzie leading us to glory.