30 years coaching experience/Worked Camps/Clinics on 5 Continents

Friday, February 25, 2011

Senior Night

Tonight is our "Senior Night" where the senior athletes with their parents/guardians/loved one who cared about them walk out before a usually packed gymnasium. Why? Why would we do that?

When it comes to basketball, I believe that if a senior can make it through high school, especially 4 consecutive years, that commitment should be recognized and respected. Every single senior night should end with a standing ovation.

The players have put countless hours into a sport or even many sports. They have learned of success and failure. They have risked reputations in front of their classmates and hundreds of others. They risk ridicule for any miscue by people who are unwilling or unable to do what they do.
I believe their parents being involved is incredibly important. They have gotten them where they are. They have listened, cajoled, disciplined, and helped them along the way. Sometimes with the coach and sometimes against the coach which is fine...parents love their children and want what is best for them individually sometimes.

I can remember as a child watching the Senior Nights and how impressed I was at the older guys. I really thought they were men and women. As my Senior Night approached, I remember not feeling as old as I remember the other seniors looking. But I remember walking out with my mom and dad and at the time I didn't completely understand what they did for me, but I appreciated them.

What my parents did....when I was younger and I would come home after a loss, my father actually stopped at a grocery store and bought me gum (there was a commercial, Big Red, I believe that a parent did this) I thought it was ridiculous, but now I understand what he was doing. My father joked often about mixing up baseball and basketball, I am still not sure to this day if he were kidding or serious, but he was at my sporting events. Yes, sometimes reading a book, but he was there supporting me and for that I know how important I was to him.

My mother was who I got my love for and intensity for basketball from. The story I tell is that I was born in October and my mom had me at Henryville basketball games in November and December. She was a staunch defender of the boys and often not so much the coach "Come on Doutaz!" I think were some of the first words I asked her about. Who was Doutaz? What do you want him to do? She was there for the success and failures as only a mother can be.

My father did two great things for me as a father and a supporter of my coach when I was in high school. 1. He never relived the game with me. He had zero desire to do so, but that is very important that I was able to go home and NOT have to talk about basketball if I didn't want to, and 2. I came home as a freshman after a pre season practice and was complaining about my coach. My father said "Listen, you are either going to be quiet and play (which I wouldn't put up with that he said) or you're going to be quiet and quit....either way, I don't want to hear you complaining."

So, Senior Night tonight....thank you to the athletes and thank you to the parents for your support of both me and your son. You have done a good job in raising your son, a perspective that I know a little bit more about now as a parent.

Being a parent is not an easy job....not at all.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tough Life Lessons With Basketball

Think back in your life, growing up, and when you actually learned something. Probably it was from some type of adversity. It may have been a "time out", it may have been being spanked, it may have been from losing a loved one or in athletics a loss.

This season my team has endured much adversity and they are learning life lessons. It is through athletics that I have learned to deal with both success and loss. There will be many things that my players this year will endure throughout life and they will be able to get through it because of the lessons they learned this year.

Some of the lessons learned:

1. Hard work does not guarantee success. You can come every day prepared and ready to bust your behind, but it does not guarantee success. If you don't work hard, however, you will fail. But you get up, go to practice, and work....every day....because it's the right thing to do.

2. In times of success everyone is on the same page, in times of adversity everyone's individual agenda shows up. It can be parents, fans, or the players themselves and it makes it harder to work as a team. You must get past those things and stay on the same page.

3. Playing something they love and not winning or seeing success is not fun. Yet, you continue. You don't put one foot in front of the other and continue to work because in the end you are still doing something that you love.

4. In all reality, you should be horribly disappointed in not being successful in something that you put so much time into; but...depression or suicide watches are not necessary. It is a game and if that is wrong to know that, then I am wrong.

5. When it comes to communities, they will not be happy when you do not win, and I cannot blame them. The money it costs to get into a game, they expect to see something for it. Often, playing hard and watching their local boys compete is enough, but they want to see wins. Our players have heard people bad mouth possibly them, but definitely me and their teammates. How do you handle it, get through it and support everyone while immersed in that?

6. Finally, for me personally, it is hard to deal with losing for a few reasons. I feel that I have not done everything possible to help this team be successful. And, my young daughter is finally old enough to listen, comprehend, and try to understand some of the things that are going on. She wants the team to win, but she has also heard harsh things said about me. It isn't fair to her, but it is part of growing up. We all can't live in a perfect world and she will learn from it. In fact, there is part of me that is glad she is dealing with it so that she is learning that life isn't always ice cream and video games.

So, we have two regular season games left and then the sectional. This team after the season can look back on what they have gone through this season and realize they have learned about life. Hopefully, they will look back with some fondness on this season as they deal with life (divorce, death, sickness) and understand that they can get through what life throws at them.

It is about making a positive out of a negative whenever possible, getting past the emotions and understanding what is important; forging character!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

2010-11 Season

So here we are at the end of a long season. We currently stand at 5-13 and I am disappointed in this season. I am disappointed in the players lack of toughness, but more so that I haven't been able to find a way for the team to be more successful.

I know we only had 1 returning player who played many minutes, really 2, but I should have found a way.

I know we played a very tough schedule (with two tough regular season games left) with a young, inexperienced team, but I should have found a way.

I know we have had 1 injury to a starter that put him out for the season, but I should have found a way.

I know that we have dealt with two suspensions, one being of a player who had been our best player in conference and over two weeks before the suspension, but I should have found a way.

I know that a young and inexperienced team losing two of their top 8 over the last two weeks, made them younger and more inexperienced, but I should have found a way.

I know that the guys have played hard, competed, improved defensively and want to win and I should have found a way.

This is by far the hardest year I have had to deal with as a coach, a varsity basketball coach, but I should have found a way for these guys to be more successful.

I will end with this: the sectional draw is tonight (Sunday) and we will see what our fortune is for the post season, and we will not give up or quit until the final horn goes off in the post season. And this will motivate us for the summer workouts and next season!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

How Accountable am I When They are Away from My Reach?

One of the biggest debates going on in Indiana education today is whether teachers salaries should be based on merit pay. What merit pay is as American as it comes. You do well, you get more money, you do poorly, you get less. That is America!

But, can teachers really be held accountable for poor grades and test scores which merit pay would be based upon? Yes, we can do a good or bad job in the classroom and that will affect some of those things in one way or another, but isn't really what happens at home what will affect these things majorly? What can they eat? When do they go to bed? How important is education in the home? What is the attitude towards the school in the home? Should students be suspended for behavior? What if a student can't read when he gets to my class, how am I responsible? These are all things that teachers cannot control, but will have their jobs riding on the answers to those questions.

As a coach, I wonder sometimes how much should I be held accountable for the behavior of my players when they are not within reach. I talk to them daily about behavior, character, integrity, toughness, responsibility, and I wonder if it sinks in. They are with me for 2 hours at the least daily during the season, should I be held accountable for them when they leave?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Retirement and Death

(pictured is former HHS boys' coach Jim Huter who recently passed away)

When a teacher at HHS retires, especially one that has been there for many years, I can't help but think about the amount of knowledge and experience that is leaving the building. A younger, newer teacher will take over and have knowledge, may even have the same amount of knowledge, but will never have the same experience without, well, experience.

When those teachers retire, I can't help to believe that our school is a lesser place because of it. How do you replace everything that an experienced teacher takes with them? It can't be done. So all you can hope for is that when it happens that the new teacher is able to close the gap quickly. But when it comes down to it, within a few years that new teacher becomes THE teacher. Not the person who replaced a legend/icon, but is now that to a few graduating classes.

The same can be said about death. Maybe even more so. You hope that the knowledge that a person accumlates over the course of their life is passed down to children, grand children and maybe even great grand children. Which they will pass on to future generations. But how could you ever replace being able to call or call on an older person with their knowledge and experience?

Take the time to learn all you can from those who came before you. Take the time to recognize the importance of those who came before you. Finally, be thankful if people recognize you for all you have done to help them or the institution.