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29 years coaching experience/ 7 years as a varsity boys' basketball coach, now assisting

Friday, July 17, 2009

Competing and Perception


I want my players to flat out compete on the basketball court. I want them to try and win at almost any costs (I don't want them hurting anybody intentionally). When doing that, it will often be perceived wrongly in the stands. I understand, there have been players from other schools in the past that I could not stand for that very reason. They competed at a level that you don't see many people do anymore. It came off wrong to most people, but they could have played for me anytime.

Off the court, I want my players to be positive leaders, gentlemen, and hard workers in the classroom. They too often fall short of those standards as do I, but I want them to turn into good human beings. Most of them will not go on and play college basketball, but most will go on and be boyfriends, husbands, fathers, sons, etc.

The example of what I want from a basketball player is a kid who just graduated. He did a few things I did not like and would disagree with on the court sometimes, but he flat out competed. If you were going to beat him, you were going to earn it. Often his actions on the court led to negative perceptions from people in other communities, and even the officials (he may have never gotten the benefit of the doubt on a call). He played harder with an attitude as much as anyone who has played for me and I loved it, and yet probably was one of the most disliked players ever at HHS by people from other communities.

But here is the deal with him, off the court, he was exactly what I thought epitomized what I want my players to be. He was respectful to teachers and adults. He worked hard in the classroom, he was never, not once a discipline problem at HHS. He helped with special needs students on a daily basis. I had many times teachers come up to me and tell me what a great gentleman he was in school, how helpful he was. He was so good if you didn't look for him, you didn't even know he was at school because he was quiet and to himself and his friends.

He was never acting like an idiot in class trying to make the teachers job harder.

What will be interesting is that many people seemed to want physical confrontations with him, but they had the protection of him being under 18, and then that he was in high school. Next season as he has graduated, it will be interesting to see who confronts him without that protection, I bet not many if any.

Perceptions are what they are, and no matter what I say most people from other communities will only remember him from his days competing. Which is too bad because they are letting that bias keep them from completely understanding the whole person, a whole person who is a pretty darn good person who will not be a drag on society.