Coach a Basketball Team… Check

Coaching a basketball team isn’t on my dream inventory or my bucket list, and it wasn’t even something I jumped at when the opportunity was first offered me. I was able to coach Colton’s 4th/5th grade team this year in our local junior league, and I had the best of times (I can only hope the kids enjoyed it and got better to, right?).

My team was made up of 4 fifth graders from Eminence and a couple fourth graders from Cloverdale. We had practices that were part large-group time with all the other teams, and part time on our own. I really had no idea what to do, so every week we’d do some basic stuff like layups, boxing out, and all that stuff I think you’re supposed to do.

My team, the Black Bears as they named themselves, worked well together. We had some kids that could definitely dribble and shoot, and others that were still learning some of the basics. By the end of the practices, though, they had all gotten better at some things, which is a big part of my job as coach, I’d suppose.

We wound up going something-and-one for the season. I don’t know how many games we played, but as we neared the end of the season, these kids really started working together. Sure, we still had one that often dominated the scoreboard, but watching them help each other out on defense or passing the ball ahead to a teammate while they were on a fast break just made my day.

During the final game, we set up a play for our one teammate that hadn’t made a basket yet. His name was Conner, so we thought of the reindeer Donner, and to disguise the play’s intent we named it Rudolph. Appropriate, right? The idea was that the designated player would take off down the court as quick as he could when a play ended and everyone else would drag their feet, hoping the other team would as well. Then they’d throw the ball down the court to the wide open Conner who would get his first basket.

That was all well and good, until Conner got the ball while we were on offense, dribbled to get open, took a shot, and made it. That boy didn’t need a special play by us. You should have seen him smile. He was proud… and he then came up to me and told me we didn’t have to get him the ball anymore. 🙂

From that point on, since we had 2 games that final day, all of the kids wanted to be Rudolf. So we gave several of them a chance. They called that play so many times, and it even worked a time or two. What made me happy was just seeing them playing together, passing the ball, trying to get a teammate open.

Next year Colton and most of these kids will be in Middle School, so there won’t be a junior league basketball league to play in anymore for him. MaKenna still has years to go, though, so who knows… maybe I can try this again sometime.

Psalm 112

SDG - Solo Deo Gloria

Praise the Eternal!
How blessed are those who revere the Eternal,
who turn from evil and take great pleasure in His commandments.
2 Their children will be a powerful force upon the earth;
this generation that does what is right in God’s eyes will be blessed.
3 His house will be stocked with wealth and riches,
and His love for justice will endure for all time.
4 When life is dark, a light will shine for those who live rightly—
those who are merciful, compassionate, and strive for justice.
5 Good comes to all who are gracious and share freely;
they conduct their affairs with sound judgment.
6 Nothing will ever rattle them;
the just will always be remembered.
7 They will not be afraid when the news is bad
because they have resolved to trust in the Eternal.
8 Their hearts are confident, and they are fearless,
for they expect to see their enemies defeated.
9 They give freely to the poor;
their righteousness endures for all time;[b]
their strength and power is established in honor.
10 The wicked will be infuriated when they see the good man honored!
They will clench their teeth and dissolve to nothing;
and when they go, their wicked desires will follow.

Psalm 112

I heard this psalm on the Daily Audio Bible today and knew I needed to come back and read it again, to let it sink in a little deeper. There’s nothing in it that really needs explanation or deep meditation, it’s so straightforward. And while it may be a little against the grain in terms of our expectations in today’s world, my life is not lived only in this world.

This is true. This is needed. And this is what I want and need. As I went back bolding things that connected with me, it was almost the entire passage… Great words, great timing, and great truth.

Their hearts are confident, and they are fearless,
for they expect to see their enemies defeated.

Getting Lost – The Best Part of Camp

I got lost this weekend. Me and three fifth graders, my “Arrow of Light” boys that I’ve had the opportunity to watch grow up in Cub Scouts the last several years. We were on a hike and having a great time, and it wasn’t too long before we all realized we were somewhere we hadn’t been before, and that we didn’t quite know how to get back to where we came from.

We wandered. We explored. We listened to high powered electric lines crackle. We measured paw prints. We jumped over creeks. We tried paths we thought might take us home. And then, eventually, we started back. Or at least we tried. No cell service means no Google Maps, which means no visual to find the direction we should head. We’re surrounded by roads I know, so it’s no biggie, but yeah, it would be nice to get back. We have a compass, but without a destination, the best it’s going to do is guide us to a road we can then follow back to camp… the long way.

Eventually we get some signal, find our campground, and chart our course home. 150 degrees. That’s the path. Down a steep hill, up another, and around a pond. Follow the sun, because it’s a true guide as well. Finally, we here sounds of laughter, see a clearing, and then we see the tents. We’re back.

Such is life, isn’t it? It’s easy to go crazy when we feel lost, when we’re navigating life without a destination. But throw in a few boundaries to keep us safe, a visual of that goal, and a compass to guide you home, and we can do it. We can make it home, and, possibly just as important, WE CAN ENJOY THE JOURNEY THERE.

I guess this is part of the reason why this was my favorite part of the camping trip. Hearing my son say it was his favorite part only makes it better. There’s lessons here… time to learn them, drive them home, and live them out at home, work, and everywhere else I go.

“Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” John 14:27

I Will Handle It

“He knows the way I take… when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” – Job

“He knows how much I can handle, and how much I can’t. I trust him with my life. Therefore, I will handle it, and when this is over, I will be even more like he wants me to be.”

– Stu Weber / Tender Warrior

Such good words today. I’ve gone to bed, woken up, and lived my days far to anxious the last several weeks. We are in a good place, with a good team, doing good work, for good clients. We have worked long and hard to get to this place, and the path forward, even though it is somewhat dark, rocky, and hard, is well worth the effort.

I will handle it. I will stick it through. I will come forth as a better man, a better husband and dad, and a better leader. There may be no magic moment when it all clicks and the waters turn crystal clear, but I’m not here to live in the easy. I’m here to raise myself and others into our full potential, to blaze a trail, and to be part of bringing a possible future into reality.

I will handle it. I will see it through.

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The Bookkeeper

I’m the bookkeeper for my son’s baseball team. It’s a job that suits me well… numbers guy, doesn’t really know a ton about baseball but can (try) to count balls and strikes. It’s also a job that gives me the privilege to hang out in the dugout the whole game with the boys and their coaches. You learn a lot about people by watching them come and go in the dugout, and it’s teaching me a lot about teamwork, leadership, coaching, fatherhood, sonship, and boyhood.

I get caught up in the games as much as any parent, I’m sure, but when you’re the guy holding the book that says “this is the kid that hits every time” and your entire infield suddenly has a case of the “my shoes are untied” right as the pitcher hurls a giant pitch, it gets a bit nerve-wracking… and that’s all before the play where it’s YOUR son who needs to make THE play to end THE inning to win THE game.

Pressure. It’s all over the place, and it’s amazing how differently different people handle it, from the kids, to the parents, to the coaches, to the parents, and to me, the guy with the book.

  • There’s the boy who’s there because he wants to play with his friends.
  • There’s the boy who’s there because his parents made him come out.
  • There’s the boy who’s there because he wants to make his dad proud.
  • There’s the boy who can never live up to his dad’s expectations but knows he has to try.
  • There’s the boy who just knows he’s “all that…” all-star material right there, baby.
  • There’s the boy who’s preparing to be a pro someday.
  • There’s the boy who has to be there because his dad’s the coach. Of course he wants to be there, but he also HAS to be there, and that makes it tough.
  • There’s the boy who’s constantly told “I know you’ve got more in you” even though he gives it his 110%, day in and day out.
  • There’s the boy who’s constantly told “I know you’ve got more in you” and still gives just 50%, because that’s the level he feels his team plays at.
  • There’s the boy who gets excited when he gets a foul tip.
  • There’s the boy who gets so excited about catching a fly ball that he forgets to throw it back to the infield.
  • There’s the boy who gets his first sliding steal and comes up beaming.
  • There’s the boy you strikes out… again, and drops his shoulders… again.
  • There’s the boy who strikes out… again, and throw his bat at the dugout fence in anger.
  • There’s the boy who strikes out… again, comes into the dugout, tells his coach what he did wrong, and says “I’ll get the next one.”
  • There’s the boy who dreams of pitching a no-hitter while he’s playing right field.
  • There’s the pitcher who dreams of video games while he’s throwing ball after ball.

These aren’t the boys on our team. Sure, I’m guessing any of those boys fall into these descriptions and more over and over and over again. These are more like some of the boys on any team, I imagine. When I watch the boys on our team lose, you can see the frustration, the hurt, the disappointment. When they win, or even when they just rally or have a good inning, you can see the excitement well back up in their eyes (even though I’ll hardly ever tell them the score).

As I sat on the bench next to a boy tonight, knowing he was frustrated with himself, not so much because of his performance itself but because of what his dad would think of his performance, I see some of where we get caught as dads. We want our sons to give it their all, to be all we know they can be, and even to excel in their sport. We really would be happy if they just gave it their best… we really would, but when game time shows up, what does that look like? Cheering one minute and stone cold looks the next? Yelling one minute followed by a “nice try” the next? It’s a hard thing, to raise a boy. To raise an athlete. To raise a son. To raise a man.

I have no nice easy answer. I feel I really don’t even know the question. I want my son to know I believe in him and will be there to both cheer him on and guide him as best I can, but I also want him to know that there are lines he shouldn’t cross – and others I won’t let him.

These are just some of my observations from behind the book, in the dugout, and on the bench next to a bunch of 9,10, and 11 year old boys doing far more than I was ever brave enough to do when I was their age. I’m proud to keep their book, glad to help them work on their grounders, and thrilled to be the first one to give them a high-five when they slide in the catcher and knock the ball out of his hand.

A new morning routine

Old morning routine… drag myself out of bed in time to get kids to school, suck down 2-3 big mugs of coffee and eat what I can, arrive to work just in time to “be on time” (whatever that means).

New morning routine… up at 5:05, scarf down a bowl of cereal and a couple slices of lunch meat (find the protein where you can), off in the car with DAB to the box to build strength and burn stress, show up to the office early to get shtuff done, and finally grab a tiny cup of coffee to go with the protein shake while I reset for the day.

I think I like this new routine. I’ve been looking for that “why” to get me up early in the morning again, and I think I’ve finally found a way to make it make worth the effort and sacrifice.

60 Day Challenge

http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2554691

I started the 6 week challenge at Crossfit Unbreakable​ this morning. I like how various elements of the workouts scale down so you can start about anywhere and move forward. And of course since I told Coach Jim my first CF goal, he gave me an extra workout to do 4 days a week… can’t say I didn’t ask for it!

I also met some new people and tried saying their names several times to remember them… and so I’ll write them down here for when I forget…

Todd. The guy who’s newer to CF than me but can probably kick my butt on anything involving a bar.

…Drat, I already forgot the other ones. And I’ve also noticed I forget how to count the more tired I am… which is not good when you’re counting to 30 over, and over, and over again.

Today’s WOD:

  • 30 Air squats
  • 30 ab-mat situps
  • 30 pushups
  • 30 box overs

I made it through one round and 65 of the second round, doing my pushups on my knees because I’m just not there yet… but I wll be.

Also did 50 reps training for pullups:

  • 10/10/5 ring things
  • 10/10/5 bar things

 

My first Crossfit Goal is…

http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2554691

… to do two or more unassisted pull-ups or chin-ups, whichever is easiest, within the first 6 weeks of my Crossfit Experience. If I find I progress faster than I expect, I’ll revise this goal to add more reps or get both exercises going.

This was an exercise that I could never do as a kid during gym class or on that day when all the kids took The President’s Challenge. It discouraged me, embarrassed me, and gave me another thing to give up and not try again until many years later.

A few years ago while working out at home I was able to get my chin above the bar a time or two and it thrilled every part of me. It didn’t last too long, though, and when I saw both chinups and pullups on the WOD today at Crossfit Unbreakable, my heart didn’t sink like it has before. Well, ok, it did a little, but I decided then and there not to live in that. I may only get one one (instead of the 64 that were on the board?) or maybe I won’t even get any, but I’ll give it my best.

I didn’t get a single unassisted one done. In fact, I could barely do it with the tightest band they had helping me. But through that I gave it all I had, held nothing back, and tried each set. There were at least 3 people that helped, encouraged, and kept me from flipping over on my back when my foot got caught in the band. I walked away a success and with my first real goal.

Feeling Strong

There’s a quote from Into the Wild, the story of Christopher McCandless that I really like:

“It is important in life not to be strong, but to feel strong, to measure yourself at least once. If you want something in life, reach out and grab it.”

I’ve watched the Crossfit “phenomenon” for quite a while over the last years. The first Crossfitter I met was a guy from a men’s retreat I went to whose story would knock your socks off (even if you’re wearing those knee-high’s they so often wear at a Crossfit “box”). As I watched him and others talk of the community they’d found in it, I related that to my own experience of community at the Daily Audio Bible.

crossfit unbreakableI’ve tried to accomplish many things alone in life, and one that has never worked well for me is growing in strength – not just the ability to lift more weight today than I did yesterday, but knowing my limits, pushing them, setting goals, and growing. Frankly, it’s been frustrating for years.

What I did today is no magic bullet, and it may not even be a good fit for me after the month and a half I signed on for, who knows. But what I did do is do something I’ve wanted in life – I joined a community of people set on finding their limits, pushing through them, and doing all of that, together.

My arms and chest ache tonight, and when my friend Keith texted me asking if he’d see me again tomorrow, I could think of quite a few reasons to rest up for a day… but I could think of even MORE reasons to simply show up again, because not only did I have a blast, but even this first day, I did things I didn’t know I could.