Nobody loses better than my younger daughter’s basketball team. Nobody. Last season, they lost every game. Every. Single. Game. Their losses often were handed to them in the form of routinely being outscored by twenty or more points week in and week out, as they struggled to defend bigger and better players and put points on the scoreboard. This season began much like the last one ended, with their team’s losing streak intact. Until yesterday. They won!
Unfortunately, my daughter was on a family trip and missed the game, but I was beyond thrilled when I heard the news that they won their game. Finally! Actually, that is not totally accurate. They may have won their first game of the season yesterday, but they actually won a long time ago. They won every time they showed up at practice ready to learn new plays and skills. They won every time they tried to execute these plays and skills in each game. They won every time they celebrated their individual achievements and their collective teamwork. They won every time they smiled and laughed in the face of defeat. They won every time they showed up to the game with a positive attitude and displayed good sportsmanship. They won when they returned this season to keep learning and having a good time together. Without knowing it, they were winning, even when they were losing.
These girls are winners in every sense of the word, and so is their coach. In today’s ultra competitive world of youth sports, where, sometimes, winning at all costs is the norm, not the exception, there are those coaches who are dedicated to teaching the fundamentals and making it a positive experience for everyone. This team is led by that kind of coach.
Don’t get me wrong. Their coach wants the team to win, and he is not afraid to get after them when they don’t listen or fail to perform to the best of their individual abilities. He has not allowed the desire to win to take precedence over everything else, though. They work hard and play hard, on and off the court. Maybe, that is why they had more girls than ever turn out to play basketball this year than in previous years.
There is no rule that requires their coach to give equal playing time to each of the thirteen players on this year’s team, yet he does. If you know anything about basketball, you understand the mathematical nightmare that is involved in making sure that every player is given a chance to play during a game’s four six-minute quarters. Somehow, though, he has solved this equation, and everyone has the opportunity to participate. Everyone. When, I recently thanked him for taking this approach to coaching, true to form, he downplayed it, simply saying, This is what they will remember more than winning. He is right.
Whether or not their winning streak began and ended with this first win of the season yesterday, they will remember so much from being members of this team. They will remember how they went out for tacos when they reached their goal of scoring ten points in a game last year, even though the other team scored over thirty points that game. They will remember when they lost in the first round of the city tournament by one point, their closest loss of last year’s season, and how they celebrated an almost win with pizza after the game. They will remember the excitement of their teammates hitting their first ever three-point shots this season. They will remember the thrill of working hard to learn a new skill and the pride that comes from being able to do it. They will remember their coach and their parents who always believed in them, were proud of them, and marked every loss with support and encouragement. They will remember that playing sports can be fun. A lot of fun. Even when you lose.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story