This Team Is My Responsibility

Posted: August 19, 2013 in Basketball, Downingtown Area Summer Hoops
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My First Coaching Job – This Team Is My Responsibility

Excuse me, coach.

In talking to various coaches in my basketball travels, I sometimes mention that I may want to get into coaching at some point and the advice that comes back is: Start now…Get some experience…At any level.

So, when I received a call this spring from a friend of mine, Paul Graci, who runs our local outdoor basketball summer league (DASH), I was open-minded. He explained to me that there was a team in the 3rd and 4th grade division that was without a coach because the original guy had pulled out the day before the first practice. Knowing that I aspire to be a basketball coach at some point in my future, he asked if I wanted to coach these little guys and I replied with a resounding “Yes.”
The day of our first game I was thinking that it was going to be easy. But as I arrived at the court I found myself feeling nervous. I wanted to be as good of a coach as possible regardless of what level of basketball it was. I was especially nervous about giving my kids equal playing time. I didn’t want any crazy, wacked out youth sports-loving parents getting mad at me or anything. I found myself worrying about everything. I was even worried about whether or not my players were going to like me. And I like to think I’m a pretty likeable guy, so that’s not usually a concern of mine . This day, it was my main concern.
Before I knew it, the opening tip of my first game as coach of my own team was upon me. I chose five random kids whom I had never even met before to start the game. Then, I kind of just drew a blank on any basketball expertise that I’ve developed over the years, so I just let them play for the most part. I was more concerned about getting everyone their minutes than I was about actually coaching my kids to a win.
As the game progressed, to my surprise, I didn’t have to do much coaching. My team was one of the best group of 3rd and 4th graders in the league. There wasn’t one kid on the team who couldn’t really play. They were all about as athletic as 3rd and 4th graders could possibly be.
Once I settled in a little bit, I felt more comfortable coaching the kids and managing the game. We were losing at halftime despite the advantage we had in talent, so I took it upon myself to make a few masterful adjustments and, of course, as a result of my Krzyzewski-like maneuvers, we came back from our five- point deficit and ended up winning the game by 15.
I began to realize that I really lucked out with these guys. Not only are they great players but they’re hilarious, too. At one point during that opening game I was standing next to one of my players and I heard him say “Excuse me” right behind me. So I turned and responded, expecting a question or something of the sort, but he answered, “Oh, no. I didn’t have anything to say. I just farted and my parents always told me to say excuse me.” I laughed at that one for pretty much the remainder of the game.
They’re all such great kids and they ended up liking me a lot. Some even came to see me play in the senior boys competition. It may be that their fondness had something to do with the snacks I brought for them to glom at the end of every game, but I’d like to believe not.
My mom bought the snacks, my friend Richie was an able assistant and, thanks to those eight and nine year-old boys, it has been one of the great experiences I’ve had over the course of my basketball career.
Hope to see them again next summer.

  1. pocketiq says:

    Lots of positive feedback from followers, Mike. Nice work.

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