With my team in the center of the court, we all extend our hands into the center of the huddle. Leading my team in our pre-game chant I shout, “Do your…”
“BEST!” they reply.
“QUIT!” They shout even louder.
“WILD!” The boys scream our team name and are ready to take the court and do just that: Do their best, never quit, and have fun!
While trying to build into the boys on my team, I learned some specific lesson about doing your best, never quitting, and having fun, too.
Do your BEST!
I learned that each person’s “best” is unique. Upward basketball is a great picture of that concept. I had boys on my team that could drain a shot from 3-point range, make left and right handed layups, and dribble circles around most players. I also had players, in the beginning of the season, who were afraid to catch the ball as it was passed to them, and didn’t know how to dribble. How do you measure “best” with a spread like that?
I was encouraged to see each of my players improve in their skills. While some were glad to score 24 points in a game, others were ecstatic to make a single basket (during practice)! It reminded me that God does not require perfection from us, but that we give our best. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on… Only let us live up to what we have already attained (Philippians 3:12, 16).
I was reminded of this during our last game of the season. We were playing a good team—fairly well matched. I knew it was going to be a close one, but we were getting killed. The boys were not playing as a team. No communication, poor shots, no teamwork. We were down by about 8 and had been out-scored by 12 points in the last two periods… it wasn’t looking good. With two minutes to go in the last period I resigned to the inevitability that we were going to lose. And I really did NOT want to lose (see my third lesson learned below). In short, I had quit. Now, I didn’t sulk. I didn’t get mad and throw my clipboard down and stomp my feet. I just clapped and cheered and continued to coach and encouraged my team, but inside I had given up. Then something happened.
One of my third graders, with determination in his eyes, glanced at the clock. He put on what I call, “the fierce face.” In the next two minutes he pulled down every rebound and scored four baskets in a row ending the game in a tie. It was wonderful, not because we didn’t lose, but because he didn’t quit!
This was the toughest lesson for me. Don’t get me wrong, Upward is a lot of fun, but it could have been even more. I was too focused on the win/loss record. Just about every Sunday, I would go around to Charles, Jeff, Ivan, and other coaches to see if they won or lost to see how my record compared to theirs. It sounds so silly as I write it here. I wonder how much more fun this season could have been, if I had not focused so much on winning and losing. There’s nothing wrong with winning, or even trying to win. But when your (ok, my) attitude is affected when we don’t win, it becomes a fun-stealer.
Being a coach was a great experience. And if I have the opportunity to do it again, I’ll follow my own advice. Do your BEST, never QUIT, and have FUN! (GO WILD!)
Coach Don Chapin