3 simple life lessons learned coaching 5 ballin’ 5th-grade girls

Our community just finished an eight week season of Upward Basketball. Upward Sports is a Christian organization that provides a framework for local churches to coordinate community-wide seasons for basketball, soccer, football and cheerleading for elementary students first through sixth grade. When I heard about Upward, I thought it sounded cute and like a neat opportunity for kids. A fleeting thought to volunteer as a coach crossed my mind. I quickly stuffed that beneath all of the other things going on in life. Namely…

dec 13

But when I got a call from the head pastor of the church that leads Upward Basketball in our town, he fairly easily twisted my arm. Actually, at first I bumbled around with excuses, only to finally agree to be an assistant coach. And he was like, “Okay, great. I’ll find you an assistant.” Well, alright then. I was in.

So began my basketball education. bball-1

I played basketball. Jr. High and High School, does that count? Prior to jr. high ball, there was AAU where I distinctly remember making one, if not two, game-clinching, buzzer-beating air-balls. My school happened to have a high concentration of highly talented female athletes, and I just happened to be born into the same age group. I still do not know how it is that I was put on the starting line-up my senior year, a year that ended in a third-in-a-row state championship. Maybe it was that I made the game easier for the rest of the team? I could pass. Really, I could pass pretty well. When your passes and shots look the same, that doesn’t bode well for a high shooting percentage. My other starting team theory is the intimidation factor. Look at me, I’m pretty mean, right? Actually, I was (suppose I still am) taller than most gals. Now having coached basketball I can see how height, even without skill, is intimidating. Anyway, when the Upward season started I was excited to, if nothing else, teach the girls to pass. And pass really well. Besides that I figured I could teach them a drill or two. In the end, it was they who taught me a thing or two. About life.

First lesson…

Five’s a team.

When I first saw my roster, I figured it was only a temporary list. Surely I’d have more than just five girls. But, nope, it wasn’t a preliminary list. We were five girls strong all season. While I thought this a huge problem, the girls never complained. All season long we played with just five girls. They showed me that five does make a team. Five was enough. So why do I always think I need more? Do I always need excess? When I’m planning a party, why do I feel the need to obsess about having an excessive amount of crudités or desserts? Just in case 20 extra people show up? Why? Or when I plan to take my son to story-time but have only just barely enough time to get there, why do I panic? Then usually abort the mission instead of trusting that maybe in getting to an event a minute or two late, I’ll run into another mom who needs that extra friendly nudge that day? No, panic mode – a very common modus operandi for moi – is not healthy. Whether time or physical resources, I need to be more content with what I have. There is not always a need for excess.

Second lesson…

“I like playing the hard team.”

First of all, I would never say this. Or, maybe, in the past those words would have never crossed my lips. I mean, I came from a team who went 81 and 0. We were the hard team. But my sweet little forward with bobbed blonde hair, bless her heart, I heard her say that more than once. And she meant it. She didn’t mind that we were getting slaughtered. All she cared about was that she was playing basketball. Although, yes, it was very hard and ahem… we were getting fouled all over the place, it was fun and challenging! In my mind, when I get to a race where I recognize another runner who I know has run faster than me, it is often detrimental to my attitude. I say this openly because I know it’s something I need to work on. Instead, I should be saying, “I like racing the fast girl” because it’s a challenge. And challenges are fun. Maybe not in the moment but what is truly fun in life, to me, is usually the thing that is the most difficult. So bring on a challenge in the form of a fast foot race. I hope to have lots more stories to that end in the coming year of racing. Yee Haw!

Third lesson…

Be easily impressed.

At our first practice we were working on shooting skills. I pulled up, shot and made a 10-ft jump shot and all the girls were like, “Whoa, that was amazing!” Seriously, you should have seen the looks on their faces. But it wasn’t that amazing. Really, it wasn’t. Yet, to them it was, and they wanted to learn to shoot better. They wanted to improve. Spending time practicing repetitive one-handed shooting drills was fun because they wanted to step up their game. Is it just kids who are easily impressed? I wonder. I wonder if sometimes we poopoo thoughts that we can learn a new skill or improve an old one because we get a little stuck in our ways. Right? I’m sure you can think of a time when you were like, “nahh, I’m not going to even try that… I can’t run a 5k… I could never run a marathon… no way could I go three days without Pepsi…” Whatever. Instead of the negativity, try taking a lesson from someone else. Talk with someone about what got them to their goal and show them you’re impressed. At least a little bit impressed. Or better yet, share your goal with someone. You’ll probably impress them with your tenacity to try something new, even if you’ve only gotten to day two of no Pepsi.

Talk about impressive…

crevier family

The end of the season Upward Basketball celebration included this family. They entertain by spinning basketballs and riding unicycles. Plus they share a good message. If you recognize them, they were on America’s Got Talent. When Bruce, patriarch and guy top left spinning the ball, picked me out of the packed house crowd along with three other coaches, I was about to crap. He lined us up center court, threw some fancy moves at us and had us try to copy him. Let’s just say the crowd got a good laugh. After the program I met with my team one last time to pass out awards and to remind them how much they’ve improved in their passing skills. They asked if I was nervous out there and said that they were cheering for me. I told them ‘of course’ and ‘thanks.’ We parted ways and the last thing they said was, “Are you coaching next year?”

I think so.

If you enjoyed reading this post, this story may also make you smile.

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