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

Monday, April 29, 2013

25 years...Really?





It's been 25 years.  Has it really been 25 years since I graduated from good ole HHS?  Are you kidding me?  25 years?  I can remember my mom being 25 years old.  I can remember being 25 years old.  I have been out of school longer than kids who graduated from high school seven years ago.  There have been four Presidents since I graduated.  Since 1988, we went from cassette players with headphones playing a mixtape to ipods playing thousands of songs on a smaller device.  We have gone from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism.  Wow!  I sure don't look like I did back then, I sure don't move like I did back then, but my shooting form is still as sweet as back then, and I can still throw a curve for a strike, when my shoulder isn't killing me.

The glory days, right?  Back when you had zero responsibility and all you had to do was play sports.  You would walk the halls of the school or the streets of the town and people knew who you were for one reason, you played for the local team.  Open gym, open field, playing in the park, hanging out, doing what you wanted within the confines of what your parents told you to do and would allow.  Scoring 27 or 33 points in a game and seeing your name in the headlines, nice.  Hitting game winning homeruns or throwing a no-hitter against your rival...you were the king of the world.  Or at least you thought so.  There couldn't be anything bigger than me, right? 

And yet, it seems that when you are that age, all you want to do is become an adult and get out of that little small town because you want to be treated as an adult.  Then you become an adult and you want to run back to high school and be that person who doesn't have to worry about mortgage payments, children, your parents aren't aging, or electric, water, and grocery bills.  Teaching, I see it every year.  Seniors lose all motivation to finish out the academic year, they want to be gone from the halls of high school.  Then they get a taste of the real world and the lack of order and discipline and we start to see them visiting by the beginning of school through the first year they are out.

I believe so many kids today do not take advantage of being a kid.  They want jobs for extra money, they want to be free! They want to grow up too fast and I blame us parents on that to some extent.  Kids today will quit playing a sport for so many reasons, some legit and some not.  But how often will you get a chance to be a part of anything like high school athletics?  I can answer that for you, once, unless you get into coaching.  And I am not so sure that isn't one of the main reasons that I got into education and coaching, for that feeling of maybe never having to grow up.  I don't care what people say, being a teacher and a coach is one of the coolest jobs you can have, of course, it is one of the local jobs where everyone has an opinion on how you are doing, but you are dealing with their children.

I get to walk the halls of a school and coach the athletes and prepare them for life after this sheltered atmosphere they exist in now.  I get to open the gym in the summer, have fall, winter, spring and summer breaks.  I get to be a "kid" every day, yet I am not anymore, I am in charge.  It's funny because when I was in school, I kind of thought the teachers only existed within the confines of the school, I didn't actually think they were people like my parents or other adults I knew.   

Two years ago when I thought of the looming 25 year anniversary, I was sick to my stomach.  My gosh, my mortality smacked me square in the face, I was getting old.  How much longer do I have to live, or live a quality life if I have been out of high school for 25 years?  But, I feel so differently today about that than I did two years ago.  I guess surviving a life threatening event will do that to you when it comes to perspective on life.  25 years, really?  Awesome...I made it this far.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Boston Bruins pre-game on April 18th.

Watch this all the way through to the Nationl Anthem.  It is emotional and moving.
 
 

The Boston Marathon and Indiana Basketball

(Patrick, Jr. is coach in middle, Pat, Sr. is to the right)
I do not care who it was that was responsible for the bombing at the Boston Marathon.  I don't care if it were a Muslim extremist, a right wing Christian fanatic, a ticked off teenager, or somebody that hates our government; it was terrorism.  It was the type of stupid violence that, it seems, we are going to have to get used to, unfortunately.  To see a wonderful day like Patriot's Day end the way it did is beyond wrong.  So many innocent people were injured or killed while attending what should be a wonderful spring day and the Boston Marathon in Boston, Mass.  Within one week, we now know who allegedly perpetrated these acts on the innocent people of Boston and justice has been served. It is amazing, however, how something that happens so far away can touch you personally.

My friend Pat Rady, Jr. was running in the race and was two tenths of a mile from the finish line when the first bomb went off.  He was about 30 seconds from the second bomb going off and then stopped in his tracks and was then unable to proceed to the end of the race due to the bombings.  In an email, he wrote to me:   "It was an experience I hope no one ever has to go through. I was off pace about 5 seconds a mile because of slower traffic, I should have been crossing right at the time of the explosion. My dad was given a VIP pass two days before or he would have been on the side of the bombing trying to get a picture of my brother and I finishing. God definitely has other plans for me and I know I need to step up and witness more."

Pat, Jr. was the head coach at Southwestern (Hanover) for a couple years when I was the head coach at Henryville and we became friends due to that competition.  He and I have had many conversations about what really matters most in life and you would think that something like this would not be needed for him to appreciate even more what matters most.  But he is taking it as a wake up call in his life and I believe we all need those from time to time whether it is an EF-4 tornado or the unfortunate acts of some deranged person and hurting innocent people.  We can take such a horrible, negative act and make it a positive if we choose to.  To be honest, if I were personally involved as a parent, I don't know if I could do that.  I would try, but it would be much harder, I know.

Pat's dad is Pat Rady, the head coach at Cloverdale and previously the long time basketball coach at Terre Haute South.  He was in the bleachers across from the explosion only because of the fact he was given a VIP pass two days before.  Pat Rady is the all-time wins leader in boys' basketball for active coaches with 720 wins.  He is third on the all time list overall behind only Jack Butcher at Loogootee and Howard Sharpe.  Pat Rady has coached Indiana all stars and won many games, but he was the first person to reach out to me due to some of my writings and a friendship has developed.  That's just the kind of person that he is.  He and his son are two of the best people that I know, the types of people who walk the walk of their beliefs.  Pat, Sr. wrote me and said:  "Coach:  Thank you for your thoughtfulness and prayers.  All are very much appreciated. Yes, I hope I never witness what I was a witness to see at the Boston Marathon.  However, I know you were in a situation like that last spring, thus, you know we may never get those sights out of our mind. Though we both know, Jesus will provide and we will continue with His help. Thanks again for your kind e-mail.  God Bless!!"

How many of us take for granted what we are given?  How many of get up and start each day not taking in the blessings that we all have been given?  How many of us forget that life is full of small things and the blessings are in the small things.  The Radys' were in Boston for a guys' weekend with father and two sons.  Pat's brother Michael had finished earlier in the race about 12 minutes before the explosion.  The Rady's were, like all of us, taking for granted that they would be there, they would finish up and then would get together and head home.  Sometime later after the bombings, the Rady men were able to meet up again. They met up at a yogurt shop where the younger Patrick had finally stopped to get a drink of water. Although almost all downtown businesses were closing, the shop owner stayed around until Patrick was reunited with his family.  I am sure that the embrace and tears from their reunion reinforced to them that you will never know when it is your time to leave this world.  You will never know when saying "good bye" is the last time you will do so.  Thankfully, for them, they were able to meet up again and to appreciate each other even more than usual for a chance to see each other again. 

I pray that we all learn from these type of things, that if it happens directly to us or not that we remember how truly blessed we are just by being alive.



 
 

Monday, April 15, 2013

America's Pastime


Baseball.  I have heard all of the talk about the NFL, college football, March Madness and the NBA being the new pastimes of the United States when it comes to sports, and maybe they are, but America'strue pastime with regards to sports is baseball.  I believe that because it is so entertwined with our history.  Our U.S. history.  Major league baseball is something that we talk about regularly in U.S. history class because it is so much a part of Americana.  How can you talk about the 1920's without speaking of Babe Ruth?  Or the 1940's and 50's without Jackie Robinson?  Or the 1960's and 70's without talking about how our culture was changing, but baseball stayed the same minus the longer hair. It was the only pro sport for many years in this country and it is one of the few sports that hasn't changed greatly through the years.  Besides, what other sport can you sit at the knee of your grandfather in the United States and watch the same game he grew up with?

With regards to baseball you don't have to be some super human athlete to be a good player.  Sure, you have to have great hand/eye coordination but baseball is a sport that seems more feasible for more people to play at any level.  Tall or short, big or little, a little husky or skinny when it comes to baseball it is you vs. the pitcher when hitting.  It is the pitcher vs. the hitter, it is being able to field a routine ground ball or fly ball all things anyone who plays up to the high school level should be able to do.  It is a sport played outside, usually in the sunny spring where people are glad to be able to get outside after a cold winter here in southern Indiana.  Plus, it is a sport that is passed from from grandparent, to parent, to child and on and on or it can be.

It's a sport that when playing in your yard, you can use tennis rackets for tennis ball because you can actually hit that ball farther and maybe you don't use a tennis racket, you use a bat instead, or you can play hot box. (Two bases a few feet apart with two defensive players and a runner) Isn't it funny that you can't get a child to clean up his room, but he will run from base to base in hot box for hours?  It's a sport that you can play catch with a friend or family member and when you get tired of just pitch and catch, you start to throw ground balls to each other or fly balls or balls that you have to dive and catch.  It's a sport where, I guess they still do this, collect the sports cards of your favorite players and I loved the cheap gum that came in the packs.  It's a sport that two people that may or may not have much in common can bond on whether they like the Cincinnati Reds or the New York Yankees, or the Chicago Cubs.

Last Saturday, Sellersburg little league had their opening day parade in the morning followed by the announcing of the teams at the little league field.  Many other communities do this, but I, as a history teacher, cannot help to think about how this tradition continues from year to year to generation to generation.  In many other countries, they rarely have parades like this, and some only have military parades.  But in America, we have little kids dressed in their uniforms excited to play the game of baseball riding in floats throwing candy out to anyone who can catch it and fill their plastic bag to the top.




You want excitement?  Go to one of these parades and see the children excited, but more importantly see the fathers and mothers excited because they are reliving their own childhoods knowing they are passing on something other than a new iphone or ipod.  See the grandparents who understand the game of baseball because they played the same game 50 years ago and can connect with a generation that is so different from their own..  There has been no 3 point line added, no rules to protect quarterbacks, no sport from Europe influencing it, and no different interpretations of the rules (see fouling in basketball).  It is the same game that all generations have played.  It is a thread that binds the generations together no matter what new and exciting man-made hype can create, there will always be baseball; and I can't think of anything better than that on a warm spring day while my children are playing the same game I did.


Thursday, April 11, 2013




1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

15 Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.

18 May it please you to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"Yea, I'm a Billboard"

Lecrae's Tell the World...good stuff.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Atlanta, Georgia



I headed down to Atlanta last Friday to work the weekend for Athletes in Action and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.  They have coaches forums, the Legends Breakfast, and a luncheon that I volunteer with each year when possible.

I arrived and Indiana coach Tom Crean is name dropping me to my friends now, I guess.  Still surreal that you can say you actually "know" someone that is pretty famous.  It's not like he is the President of the U.S., but in Indiana that is pretty cool to me.  I don't have any players that he recruited, I am not someone who can get him anything that he doesn't already have, and he takes the time to know me.  Now in "knowing" him, it isn't like I have access to get autographs, pictures, or any other type of contact.  So in knowing him, it's not like we are grilling out or anything, but we are...um...acquaintences.  Crean saw my head coach from this past summer when I went on a mission trip with Athletes in Action and he told Kelly Combs that he knew who he was because he went to Indonesia with me, he mentioned me by name.  Many of my friends get tired of my talking about Tom Crean, I don't care.  No, really, I don't.



At the coaches forum that night hosted by AIA, I was able to meet Lecrae.  Lecrae is a Christian rapper.  I know what you are saying...Christian rap?  It can't be any good.  Well, I would tell  you to go to Youtube and type in Lecrae and "Take me as I am" or "Tell the World" and listen to those songs.  You can listen to any of his music, but those are two of my favorites and his message is something that younger people can relate to through his music.



The next morning was The Legends Breakfast that is used by AIA and FCA to recognize one coach per year who has lived a Christ like life.  The winner this year was Dick Bennett, the former coach at Wisconsin and Washington State as well as other schools in Wisconsin.  Chick fil A CEO Dan Cathy attended and I was able to catch him in the hallway and speak with him and tell him how much I love his chicken sandwiches!  Also, the University of Kentucky Coach, John Calipari, was given an award for his efforts with Samaritan's Feet.  It is an organization that attempts to get shoes for every child in the world.  I would recommend that you google it to get more information and maybe help out sometime because it is a humbling, wonderful organization.  Coach Calipari tweeted that he cannot wait to help them out more in the future and with someone like him behind it, it can't help but be more successful in the future.



At the FCA luncheon, I was able to meet and speak with Jon Gordon.  Gordon has written many books such as The Energy Bus, Training Camp, The Seed, and others.  The books are faith based books to get you to understand why you do what you do and how you can gain happiness in this world.  Training Camp was the first book that I read and I would recommend it to anyone who is into those types of books.  It is like the book Lead...for God's Sake, but it is from a football point of view.  Then IU coach Tom Crean received the Jon Lotz "Barnabas" award for his giving in the name of Jesus Christ.  Anytime you hear Crean speak, he is inspiring.  He acknowledges his shortcomings, admits it is easier for him to apologize now that he has grown in his faith, and realizes that he isn't perfect and tries to be better.  Shouldn't we all strive to do that?



Much of what I attended was free.  The coaches forum and the FCA luncheon can be attended by anyone and I would tell anyone that in two years when the Final Four is back home again in Indiana, to head to Indianapolis and attend these events.  There is much to do and you will be reinvigorated, transformed, or just have a good time by being around such good people and the atmosphere of the Final Four.

Oh yea, there were games played, too, but I watched them in my hotel room because by Saturday night, nothing was going to live up to what I had experienced, so I rested.  But, I will say this...Go Cards!!!!  Both the men's and women's team. 


Thursday, April 4, 2013

IU's Coach Tom Crean to Receive FCA Award

Tom Crean



He has his flaws, but don't we all, but if you follow Coach Crean on Twitter you will see his faith at work.

You can read the media release here.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Odds and Ends



Last week, my family and I were in Myrtle Beach enjoying the 55 degree weather with 20 mph winds out of the north and 55 degree ocean water...what wonderful weather for spring break, but there are a few things I wanted to write about this week.
 
First, how about them Braves?  Borden wins the 1A state championship in boys' basketball.  I still cannot wrap my mind around that.  What an awesome thing for the community and for the coaches and players.  And what about Coach Doc Nash?  His name is usually associated with any job that opens in the area, but now would have to be considered for many in the state.  Knowing Coach Nash, he has said numerous times that he isn't going anywhere that he is happy and successful at Borden, so why leave?  He's the Brad Stevens of 1A basketball...except with a championship.
 
I have known Coach Nash since he was 16 years old and have enjoyed watching him grow and mature as a person and a coach.  He has gone from "shoot it before you turn it over" coach his first year, to playing good man to man defense primarily, running a very good offense, and holding the ball in a delay at the end of games.  His evolution has taken him from losing to our team at Henryville his first year in the first sectional game of his career, to being a coach that I shouldn't be mentioned in the same paragraph because of his accomplishments.
 
It is spring in southern Indiana and I have already caught some high school baseball games this weekend when the weather was a little warmer.  I love baseball, my first love, but high school is the most pure in my opinion.  Kids playing for the love of the game, it just doesn't get any better to me when it comes to America's past time.  Watching Silver Creek and Columbus East was enjoyable as their coaches run disciplined, organized programs, then throw in some pretty good players and that is a good recipe for success this season.
 
The University of Louisville is in the final four for the second straight year.  I believe they are going to win this season because their defense has been stifling at times. Whether they win or not, it has been a great season for them and their fans.  Our prayers go out to Kevin Ware.  What an awful break in every sense of the word.  It was an emotional moment during the game and after for everyone watching.  His response, the team's response, Coach Pitino's response and all of Duke's personnel showed that many times we have to be reminded to put sports in its proper perspective.  I hope Ware comes back next year stronger than before and goes on to have a great career.  On a kinda sidenote, how about how in today's world, he will be able to watch that break occur for the rest of his life because of youtube.  It was downloaded almost immediately, but I have zero desire to watch it again.
 
Finally, U of L women's upset of Baylor and Brittany Griner may have been the greatest upset in women's college basketball history and definitely the greatest that many people were not watching.  They weren't watching because they do not watch women's college basketball which is highly unfortunate for them especially if they like a pure form of basketball. I believe that it is the best basketball played beneath the rim which is what most of us see on any given weekend in high school games.