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

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sleeping in My Own Bed

Since school let out June 6 to now June 28, I counted that I have slept in my own bed six nights.  The bulk of that is because of my trip to Iceland in mid-June, but as soon as we got back, we headed to West Lafayette and Purdue University (at least Maddie got to go and spend time with me), Wabash College in Crawfordsville IN, and Olney junior college in Illinois to play in tournaments for my high school team.

The experience in Iceland was life altering and then we played 15 games in less than a week and improved greatly this week.  Where we were before I left for Iceland and where we are tonight after getting back from Olney is a big improvement.  An improvement that has gotten me excited about the upcoming season if everyone stays healthy and out of trouble.

But all of that time has kept me from sleeping in my own bed.  Between the hotel in Iceland and the hotels this past week, I haven't gotten to sleep in my own bed and I miss it.  It is the decision I make to do these things so my not sleeping at home is my fault as much as anything, but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with. 

There is absolutely nothing like the feel of your own pillow, mattress and bedroom.  So, I will take a few days and stay home, work around the house, and sleep in my own bed, but it will soon be time for a family vacation and what does that mean?  More sleeping in another bed other than my own.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Camp Ends in Iceland; Headed Home Today

I am looking forward to getting back to the "real world" this week and coaching my own team.  We have lots to do and a short period over the next 9 days to get it accomplished.  But I would not change this experience for anything.

I have written before and will again that when you finish a camp like this, there are two very conflicting emotions going on.  First, for me, is a semi-depression.  This place has become my "home" for the last week and a half.  I know the town, I know some of the people, and I know the kids at the camp.  I have been helped by many of these people in many different ways.  But you also have the overwhelming excitement about getting see the ones truly important.

I don't know if I learn much anymore, it's not that I know everything, and trust me, I am always looking to learn something new and many people would be willing to tell you how unintelligent I am.  What I think happens to me anymore is that what I truly believe is reinforced.

1.  People are good.  I am sure if I started to live in places I have visited that the experience would change, but as a visitor...people are good.

2.  It is important to experience life.  I could easily spend the rest of my days sitting on my couch and staying in southern Indiana, but I refuse to do that.  Traveling to Iceland, Serbia, Makedonja and other places are what living life is about.  You can read about things in a book, but you don't really understand unless you are there.

3.  It is about relationships.  Some of the relationships I have developed over the last week will stay with me forever.  Of course, we are spending much time together this week and it will get less and less, but with facebook and skype, I will be able to watch some of these people that I have grown very close to grow up and live their lives...that is special.

4.  It's not about me.  I have been blessed with so many things in life and money is the least of these things.  I only feel that is is right to give back some of that.  When I think of all the people that have helped me along the way while growing up and living, I am overwhelmed by the number.  Hopefully, this week I have done a little something like that for someone.

5.  Besides faith, family is #1.   Being away from my family has not been easy.  It is one of the downsides about experiencing life and where do I draw the line with my selfish wants and taking time away from them.  My faith helps, some will disagree with that, but it is important to me, but thinking about my kids and wife really get to me when I spend this much time away from them.  I cannot wait to see them, hug them and kiss them as they are the most important things in the world to me.

Today we leave here, Sauodrakrokur, and fly to Reykjavik and tomorrow morning I head back to the USA.  I am sure I will be sad today as we finish camp, as I am sitting here typing this, and I am equally sure that when we touch down in Boston and I am closer to home, my sadness of leaving here will be replaced by an overwhelming feeling of happiness for being home, not just southern Indiana, but with my family.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Things I Have Learned About Iceland

Reading about a culture and actually partaking in it are two very different things.  Here are a few things that I have learned about Iceland.

1.  The horses here have 5 gaits or ways of running.  I went to a horse show the other night and it was interesting.  At one point, two riders rode around the building holding beverages and didn't spill a drop. 

2.  The police have a relatively easy job in this town.  Very nice, quiet and rarely too much going on as far as craziness.  Lots going on, just not bad stuff.

3.  It is cold here in June.  The locals say it is unusually cold for this time of year, but when they talk about how "warm" it usually is, it still sounds cold to me.

4. Icelandic is harder to try and learn than Serb or Makedonian.  Thankfully, I was able to learn many of the kids names, but some, well, I will just say sorry. 

5.  The coach I have worked with is Serbian.  I have actually translated between the Iceland kids and Coach Goran Miljevic a few times as they couldn't understand each other's a translator?

6.  People are proud of where they come from no matter where it it should be.

7.  People are often willing to do many things to help a visitor out...thanks to all who have made this week enjoyable.

8.  Did I mention it's cold?  In June?

9.  The kids here want to excel as any that I have been around in the states...especially the younger group of girls I have been around this week.  Good athletes, good basketball players and totoal competitors!!!

10.  The sun never completely sets in June here.  The picture above is an example of 3 AM here. 

11.  It's cold!

Friday, June 17, 2011

It's My Blog and I'll Write if I Want to

I probably write about the same things over and over, but I believe there are some universal truths so it is going to allow for me to do that.  That is my opinion and this is my blog.  As I have grown older and deeper into my faith, I have a different understanding of my life.  I have written many times about how "winning" can be defined many different ways and some would argue that is how losers speak, but I believe that and you can call me what you want.

I had a conversation with someone about the recent clinic/camp I am attending in Iceland and the comment they made was that when they go to these things, it is all about basketball.  Basketball then the area, then the relationships.  This person was a young coach who is driven on getting better and winning games and championships, I understand, I used to be that way.  My response was for me, it was first about the relationships, then the surrounding area, then the basketball.  Basketball is last on my list in something like is about learning and meeting new people. 

I truly believe that I will leave this place with new friends.  New friends that have met up here with me and new friends that live here, and I may not take anything away basketball wise (not true, got some good drills), but it will still be a success.  How you can experience anything new especially something as drastic as cold weather in June and daylight at night and not feel successful, then you have your priorities skewed. 

Someone else asked me what my expectations were for this or for that here and I try and not have expectations when coming to places like this, so far away from home.  When pushed further about what my expecations were, I said simply my expectation is to experience what is here, appreciate it and to never be disappointed.  That is actually a philosophy I try to use every day in every situation however unreasonable it may be.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Basketball is Universally Binding the World

The coaches at the Tindastoll camp are getting along much better than maybe could have ever been anticipated.  There is laughing, above is me speaking with an Italian GM and former coach Luigi Gresta .  In that picture you can see the camraderie that all of the coaches are feeling towards one another.

There are many reasons that this is happening, but basketball is what brought us together in Iceland and it is something that we all love and have a passion for.  I know you can get this in many other things, but is basketball. 

Basketball is something else that has binded the coaches with a few people in this community as well.  All of the people we have come into contact with have been nothing but nice and hospitable.  The only thing that could be better would be the weather, but as the locals keep telling me....quit complaining about the weather; it is Iceland!

It is Wednesday and I am looking forward to going home.  However, with any camp you do become connected to the kids, the players, and the coaches and it will be with some sadness that I leave, but with much happiness when I arrive home.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Don't Ask "why?", Ask "what?"

Last night, I had a good conversation with one of the locals about religion.  I am a Christian and the discussion was about religion; their doubts, concerns, and beliefs.  The biggest question they had was that how could a God allow bad things to happen in the world.  My response was short with some analogies, but I used Tony Dungy's (former football coach of the Indianapolis Colts) words from his book "Quiet Strength".  He says that when something bad happens (his young son committed suicide without anyone knowing why) that you shouldn't ask "why?", but "what?" meaning what can I learn from this and be a better person and use it as a positive example as a Christian.

How often as coaches have we asked that question about many different things that happen to us?  I know that I have done it often, but if we take what Coach Dungy says and apply it to our lives we can remain more positive or at least attempt to.  The religious aspect of his comment probably means more to me than the overall meaning (read the book to understand where he is coming from...I don't want this to be a religious post, but it kinda, sorta is).  What can we do at any given moment?  Basketball coach Don Meyer says you should make every decision with the intent of what is the next "right" thing to do based on your values.  No matter the outcome, you then look for the next "right" thing to do.

I don't claim to know everything (I am sure my wife would disagree), but I am smart enough to listen to people that have experience, are smart, and understand that I can learn from them.  It is humbling to travel to different places, at home and abroad and how you can learn about life.  If you travel, talk to people, look at the environment and don't take something away positive you are missing out.  I truly believe that life is not about me, it is about helping others and trying to make it a better place for other people.  I know, however, that I fail...often...every day.  But I can continue to try whether it is discussing religion, posting a blog, working a basketball camp, or enduring a bad season.  That is probably one of the few selfish things that I struggle with is hoping I am doing what is planned for me.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Tindastoll Basketball Camp...Sauoarkrokur, Iceland

We have finished 1 1/2 days of basketball camp here in Sauoarkrokur and there are some things I am finding universal.  I guess you could say universal considering I have only been around kids from the US, Greece, Makedonja, Serbia, Albania, Kosovo, Bulgaria and now Iceland, but there are some things I see similar.

First, they are eager to learn.  I think maybe kids in the foreign countries are more eager because I am from America, but because it isn't something that they take for granted.  In the states, we take for granted that basketball is around all the time with great coaches, great clincs, and great games on all the time. 

Second, all kids appreciate some attention.  Where I coach, it may be somewhat less than here but it is because I am around all the time.  When I have gone to foreign camps or even camps in the states, the kids appreciate your attention.  They appreciate your taking the time to joke around with them.

Third, all kids get tired and get what I would call...squirrelly.  I knew it before, but often wondered if it wasn't just American kids that did that, now I know better.  But it isn't because they are rude and it isn't because they are being disrespectful, it is because young minds today are often thinking about "what's next?".  I think adults are doing it also that is why you see so many unhappy adults, and we are older and wiser than they.

The group that I am helping with seems like a pretty good group of kids and I mean as people as well as basketball players.  We have a couple of really good boy basketball players, but there are a legit 8-10 of the girls who are good.  If they were back home, and were together at a school, they would be winning a lot of games and getting a lot of attention.

The best part about being over here is everything...the people, the weather (sometimes), the scenery, the day lasting all the time, the food (really, it isn't bad) but the worst part is as usual me missing the family.  I don't know what has happened as I have gotten older, but I could move far away as long as I had them.  I love Iceland, I am not quite sure I love the weather (I LOVE cold the winter, here in June and being 40 degrees...not so much) and could learn to live here.

But, the thing that I would miss and I know it will happen when I land in Boston is that the United States is a special place.  It is a special place for many, many, many reasons, but the biggest for me is that it is home.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Coaches Clinic, Traveling the World, and Other Stuff

(Luigi Gresta from Italy, Isreal Martin from Spain, Goran Miljevic from Croatia, Borce Ilievski from Macedonia, and Perry Hunter from The United States of America)
I have said often over the last few days that in the USA you can go to a coaches clinic every weekend in the fall and spring.  Also, you can go watch just about any college team practice in the winter, but some places in the world, like Iceland, they do not have that luxury.  We are spoiled in the states, very spoiled in many ways.

But by traveling last summer to The Balkans and now Iceland, I have seen two very different places, both great in different ways, but something else stands out more than anything.  How beautiful the place you are in is to the local people, but not just to them, but to me...a visitor.  Looking at different vegetation, mountains, cars, buildings, trying different foods; we really are missing out if we don't go to other places.  Also, I don't know if you can truly appreciate your home and I mean with real feelings unless you travel abroad.  I love traveling abroad, it is an amazing experience that allows me to learn not just by reading in a book, but by seeing it and feeling it.  Like 3AM and the sun is up in Iceland.  But it makes me appreciate more the states, and also Indiana.

Finally, basketball and it could be anything, but basketball is the one thing I have seen unify people from all over the world.  Here at the Tindestoll coaching clinic, you have coaches from Croatia, Macedonia, Italy, Spain, Iceland and the USA sitting and talking basketball....thankfully in English, but it is a unifying thing.  There are no problems between countries, there are no political issues, it is just people talking about something that we all love.

When I came home from Serbia and Macedonia last summer, I said the trip was life will be this trip to Iceland.  I will grow an ever greater appreciation for the lives of people in other countries, I will grow an ever greater appreciation for my home, but more so....I will grow an ever greater appecation for my family.

It is easier this summer being away from home.  I think I have gotten to the point in my life where I don't get homesick for my house, town, state, but I do for my wife and kids.  My wife, Kristi is unbelievably supportive and the kids will want to knock me over when I get back because they will miss me, but I know how truly blessed I am to have them.  It doesn't take a trip for 12 days in Europe without them to understand, but it doesn't hurt. 

So, bring on the kiddos here for the camp.  If they don't get better after camp is over it will be because they aren't trying because I plan on working, and hopefully helping them to get better.  But I am also looking forward in the quiet times about getting back on the plane and landing in Louisville to see my "team" as I will be missing them greatly by I am now.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Tindastoll Basketball Coaches Clinic 2011

First day of clinic went very well.  You can go to a clinic in the States every weekend in the fall and spring, but rarely get to see international coaches.  Here you have various countries represented.

Friend Goran Miljevic a Serb from Croatia spoke first, then the camp host Borce Ilievski from Macedonia spoke.  I spoke about the organization of our practices then Luigi Gresta from Italy and the last speaker Israel Martin from Spain finished the night.

Many coaches from all over Iceland have shown up to learn more about the greatest game in the world; basketball.

Much warmer today, but still feeling like a cold winter day back home in Indiana.  The sun is out today and at 11:17 PM local time, it is sunny...definitely different.

I am looking forward to the clinic tomorrow and getting the kids here to work and hopefully teach them something new.

Welcome to Iceland

So far very beautiful country and getting to see old friends is nice.  It is amazing that friends I made in the Balkans, I am now seeing in northern Iceland, what a small world it has become.

But...when I got off the plane in Reykjavik yesterday, the most noticeable thing was the weather.  It was probably in the upper 30's with winds blowing off the ocean and out of the mountains at 20+ miles per hour.  It is COLD!  Back home, it is in the 90's and almost got to 100 the other day which is very HOT! Dealing with the extreme change in temps will be something to get used to.  It really does feel llike a cold January or February here.

The second big thing I will have to get used to, I don't know if you can tell from the picture or not, but it does not get very dark here at night.  The picture posted with this entry is from 1:30 AM here.  I am not sure that the picture does it justice, but you could literally shoot basketball all night.  It is bright enough to go and play catch with baseball or even take some practice swings.  It is that bright.  With the time change and the brightness, it took awhile for me to get sleepy enough to want to sleep last night.  Hopefully that will be something that changes as the week goes on.

Today we start the international basketball coaching clinic and it will be interesting to hear from coaches that live in Croatia, Iceland, Spain and Italy.  Back home we have so many coaching clinics, but rarely do I get to hear from people in other countries.  Two days of clinics then the camp matter what, it will be a great experience.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Stuck in Boston

A few years ago, before my son was born, my wife, daughter and I visited the Northeast US.  We loved Boston...lots of history.  But today, I am stuck in Boston.

I got up this morning to head to Reikjavik, Iceland to work a basketball camp with a friend Borce Illievski.  I got up at 5 AM, headed to Louisville International and got on a flight to problems.  However, after arriving in Philly, the flight kept getting delayed.  It ended up being a total of 2 hours delay.

When I arrived at Logan International in Boston, I missed my connecting flight to Iceland.  So, I had to wait around for 2 1/2 hours until I could speak with someone from the company that I was flying with.  When they arrived, it was no problem to bump me to the later flight.  However, I still have to wait 4 hours until taking off.

So I have been stuck in Boston pretty much all day.  And when I say stuck in Boston, I mean stuck in the airport.  If you have ever flown, you know that airports are their own little universe.  Most all airports are the same helping in travel, but it is a world behind tight security.

I have been lucky enough to be able to get online and waste some time and will hopefully catch some ZZZZ's on the 5 hour flight.  I am looking forward to the coaching clinic and also the camp, but I even more looking forward to finally getting out of Boston.

Friday, June 3, 2011

For Every Action There is an Opposite and Equal Reaction

One lesson that we don't learn until we are older, and I wonder sometimes if even older people learn that lesson, is that everything we do has some consequence.  I see it in my young children, they have no idea that if they do not clean up their rooms then they can't find things they want when they want them.

We have started summer basketball and I was highly encouraged by the numbers that we had out that first day, but there were some guys missing, guys who I would never have guessed would miss.  As a coach, you hear rumors about players...all...the....time.  You get to where you don't believe anything you hear and it's not because we are naieve, it is to keep our sanity.  This guy is playing, this guy isn't playing, that guy is out doing things he shouldn't, this guy is terrible in that get the picture, but I never understand why someone would not play a sport that they have played their entire life.  It could be that I am wrong and these people will show up at some point this summer and maybe not, but why not try the summer and then make the decision?

Maybe it's the coach, absolutely never a reason to not play.  Maybe they want to focus on another sport and I can understand that, but to be honest I have heard that excuse quite often throughout my years and probably only one or two have actually done this.  Maybe they feel they didn't get the opportunity to showcase what they could do.  Maybe they understand they aren't as good as they thought they were.

I think in all the years I have coached I have actually gone to a kid and asked why they weren't playing one time.  We had a really great kid, great role model who decided not to play to focus on another sport.  I spoke with him and he was clear that he knew he wasn't very good at basketball and he did work on his other sport religiously all winter.  Only once of a couple of times it has happened as far as I can remember.

But what is often misunderstood by young players is that many of them make decisions today not understanding that the decision will affect their future.  I can't say 100% but close to it who choose not to play basketball regret it at some point.  Some for a whole year, others for short periods of time.  That time can't be gotten back.  Worse yet, they may decide after making a decision six months earlier that they have changed their mind.

By changing their mind, they now decide that they did make a mistake and they want to play.  It is an IHSAA violation to cut a player before actual tryouts in November, but not playing with the guys during the summer cannot help your situation.  Playing in the summer is when most coaches get much of what they think they need to do done, with only 13 practices before your first game, it's the way it's become.

Really, as I have aged and gotten more experience, I think I rarely "punish" a kid for much of anything.  I look at it more as rewarding the kids who have put the time in, those guys who have committed to the program and not committed to just themselves (which is very much human nature and we all do it). 

There is nothing wrong with not playing basketball, it isn't for everybody, but I cannot comprehend giving it up; make the coaches decide on it if you love it.  Maybe it is because I love it more than any of the players could possibly love it, maybe it is something bigger than that and maybe each individual situation is unique and maybe, just maybe, I will change my opinion as my own children age and participate in athletics.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Well, This is What I Think and Since No One is Wrong Anymore, I MUST be Right!

I think one of the more frustrating things that we deal with in a position of leadership is the ignorance (ignorance means uninformed, not stupid) of what we do or deal with.  Many people see the superficial, outward appearance of coaching and teaching, but don't understand every thought/issue/side that went into what we do.  Most people form their opinions on their own experiences or information level and not on all the information that is available. 

Often when  discussing something that I have done like summer basketball or practice times, people are uninformed with every detail that we deal with.  What seems inconvenienced for them, and it very may well be, is not inconvenience for the majority of people involved.  We will not make everyone happy all of the time, but we have to make decisions for large groups of people all of the time.  By doing that you are going to anger people, often by people who don't want to be in a position of leadership.