Thank you, Basketball. You’re a silly game that has given me more than I ever dreamed possible. You’re my passion, my love, my calling, my platform, my purpose and you’re a beautiful game to me.
I think the way I love the game is hard for most people to understand; especially today when it seems everyone only plays to get something in return. I’ve never seen the game as a way out. I’ve never seen the game as me giving it something to get something back from it. I’ve just always LOVED it; I loved it when I was the worst one on the floor and I’ve loved it when I was the best one on the floor.
For me it’s always just been fun. It was the smell of the court; the feel of the ball in my hands. I loved being alone for hours just sweating by myself, because I knew I could get better as long as I kept putting in the work.
I had the opportunity to play in college on a full scholarship. After college I had the opportunity to coach at the college level for several years. They were the most frustrating years of my life, especially the last two years. The players I coached didn’t love the game. When I think back on my years coaching, I think I coached TWO players that truly LOVED the game.
I couldn’t do it anymore. I wasn’t willing to compromise my standards and love for the game to be able to “relate”. Their mentality was disgusting to me and I wasn’t willing to accept the world’s standard of mediocrity and apathy. I stopped being dumb enough to think I was going to “change or shape” them into something different. By the time they get to college it’s too late. You are who you are; and you’ve surrounded yourself with enough people who are going to keep enabling your mindset. Very rarely do people change, and I refused to let them change me.
I honestly never thought I’d coach again and I was totally fine with that. In April of this year that changed; we have been working with about 40-50 kids ages five to twelve years of age from India. They had never watched or played basketball before. Many of them had never even played a sport at all. It was all totally new to them. We have the opportunity to go into their community and teach them from the beginning.
Watching some of these kids truly LOVE the game has been so crazy! It takes me back to me loving the game. They don’t cheat the game; they don’t care if they get anything back from it. They smile when they play because they don’t have their parents coaching them and putting pressure on them to get a scholarship to play in college or to go pro.
Several of the kids have gotten GOOD; and honestly I don’t think they even know it. If they don’t get something in class; they go home and practice it to get better. They don’t make excuses or come back the same from week to week. The kids that are truly excelling in class try whatever we show them and smile and get better and better every week.
It’s funny to me because they thank us; but really I can’t thank them enough! Working with them is so much fun; watching them get better has been awesome. Getting to be a part of their growth is an experience like I’ve never had before. Watching them face their fears and then conquer them has been so much fun. We see their faces when we introduce something new and hard to them. We watch them fail at it, but then they come back the next class to show off how they have improved at that skill. It’s pure. It’s love. It’s fun. It’s what basketball is meant to be.
These kids may never play basketball in middle school, high school or college, but they have shown me that the game is fun. They show that it’s still possible to love playing without expecting anything from the game. They show that if you truly love something, you will put in the WORK it takes to get better. It’s FUN to WORK HARD. It’s FUN to get better. You don’t expect anything else from it. You only expect to get better. You can’t cheat the game. But the game is so amazing and so rewarding when you really love it.