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

Monday, April 27, 2015

Truth, Love, and Basketball

At church this past Sunday, one of our elders quoted a statement on truth and love.

"There is a delicate balance between truth and love. Some people are overzealous for the truth so much so that they forget love and some are so overwhelmed with love they forget the truth."

It was said in context of church, but can be used in coaching basketball, or any sport.

"Some people are overzealous for their coaching truth that they forget to love their players and some are so overwhelmed with loving their players, they do not provide truth, or discipline."

I think back when I started coaching; why any of those guys would have anything to do with me, I don't know. I was crazy. Yelling, cussing, running them all of the time...just nuts.

It took awhile to learn that love was important in coaching. I went to the extreme that I probably became too lenient because I saw the struggles and realized how rough some of their lives were.

It's a constant fight to find this delicate balance between your coaching truth and loving your players.

I know it exists though because I see it as I swing by.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Sometimes the Words Depart

I am an assistant coach now. It is much less stressful, it is much less demanding and pressure packed. It can be much less fulfilling, too, but that's the downside when you aren't in charge. Right now, I wouldn't change it for anything.

Before I was a head coach, I was an assistant. I had all of the answers and just knew that if I were in charge I could do a better job. Then I became a head coach and realized how uninformed I was before. You learn so much when you become a head coach, you can never be truly prepared.

Now as an assistant, I know what the head coach is dealing with and I try to lighten the load. I know now that I was uninformed and try to realize that I still am in many ways. But I have found that I have less to write about as an assistant coach.

It's not that there aren't things to write about, there are, but not in a cathartic way where I can get something off my mind by writing here. Also, I don't want to write anything that could be construed as me questioning my head coach or that he may have to answer for because of me.

So I end up writing about my faith and family more.

And really, they're the most important things to me in this life.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Things I Think I Think...Because, You Know, Are We Really Here?

I was an agnostic until I was 32 years old. I wanted, pleaded for people to explain to me how there was a God, but couldn't find anyone to do so. Maybe they did, I just fought it.

But then I found apologetics, the use of logic, reason and science to, at the very least, prove the possibility of the existence of God and that Jesus was his son, part of the Trinity.

What hit me like a ton of bricks is that there must be something greater than us because if there is no God then:

1. Why is there something instead of nothing?
2. How could something come from nothing?
3. How could that something from nothing be non-living?
4. How could that non-living material become living?
5. How could there be any type of generally recognized morality?
6. How if there is no generally recognized morality could anyone be wrong?
7. How if anyone is not wrong could we force our belief system on them?

I have come to the conclusion that questions 1-4 can never be answered by science. Any scientific hypothesis, experiment or theory can happen only in a closed universe. Meaning, no matter what happens those findings are being acted upon by something within that universe altering any findings that could occur with a huge asterisk. So, in my beliefs, there must be some outside force, outside of time and space that is eternal and created time and space. It would have to be something so powerful to exist outside of time and space meaning it has always existed.

Recently, a new theory has come that the universe has existed forever. Most scientists disagree, but this brings about a couple of problems I can think of: if we were to go back in "time", there would be an infinite regress, infinite cannot exist in real time. Everything within our closed universe has had a beginning and will have an end, as far as we know. Unless the universe's "time" is circular...

Question 5, though we may disagree on morals, there are some that most human beings will agree upon, unless they are immoral. So yes, there are generally recognized morals.

But where do they come from? If we are no more than robots of meat, then generally recognized morality should never exist. What is "right" to me is "right" to me, you should not judge. However, we know that what is "right" to some societies is wrong. Hitler killing the Jews, there were enough people in German society at that time to believe that it was moral, yet we know it was not.

If there is no generally recognized morality then no one should ever try to force their morality on others which as soon as you state that means you are forcing your idea of morality on others, but anyway, how could the United State in WWII feel they should invade Germany?

Japan attacked us, and we would be justified for fighting back, but Germany just declared war on us they didn't invade. However, they did bomb and invade our allies. We could be justified in fighting them, but once the information of The Holocaust emerged, those people should not have been tried for crimes against humanity unless there are general moral laws that exist that people could not come up with on their own.

I have had more than one scientist tell me I am wrong because I don't understand physics. If there was nothing and there was something that means even the laws of physics didn't exist and would have only come in existence once time and space existed. Maybe the existed before time and space, but it is something that can only be theorized with little understanding because of, again, our closed universe.

Finally, when my daughter was born. I held her in my arms and had an overwhelming feeling that she was more than just something existing for no real reason or the product of a proto planet slamming into our Earth which ignited billions of years of evolution making this robot of meat to be held in my arms. My feelings for her and my son were more than just complex chemical reactions in my brain. There was something more, there was something greater than me...there has to be or all of this exists and everything we do is for nothing.

And what a sad, depressing, almost pitiful thing to think, of course, how dare I think would be so illogical if it weren't so true.

*There are no new arguments to what I have written here. I was agnostic and I know every single argument used by atheists to fight believing in a God, I know because I used them. I do believe that questioning is a great thing because of that questioning, it led me to Christ.

In All Honesty

Since I wrote a week or so ago about feeling like a terrible parent, things have been much better. My daughter (with her iTouch taken away) has shown much more responsibility, but still struggles getting homework finished (3-4 hours of homework a night for a 4th grader). But her mother and I spoke and we really do expect a lot of her. And yet, she is spending 12 hours a week in the gym for gymnastics (soon to end), she was playing on a basketball team and starting the season for two softball teams. Dumb parents we are and then expecting so much of her behavior at home. doesn't give her a reason to procrastinate. We are proud of her and we have seen improvement in her behavior.

But then there's the other one. I know, I know...that wasn't very nice, but my son is complicated. He is emotionally stoic, he shows his love, but he does not like to show emotion. It embarrasses him, I guess. I get it. But he struggles with communicating his feelings when he is tired, angry, mad, tired, etc. And what happens is he throws a tantrum that a 7 year old should not be throwing. I don't remember ever doing it because I would have gotten a good reddening of my behind. But we redden his behind from time to time, also.

Yet, nothing from reddening his behind, to discussion, to taking things away seems to help his behavior. After the tantrum, he feels awful and that sometimes seems like punishment enough, yet, it doesn't change his behavior.

In all honesty, I just want to give up sometimes. I want to head off into the woods and come back when they are 25 and they know how to treat their parents with more respect on a consistent basis. But then I realize that even in these failures (I often feel like a failure as dad), I will look back and laugh? about them. It will be when they are 25 and are decent human beings, that I will look back and realize it was all worth it.................right?

**Happy 7th birthday to my son Brandon. He was born and the next day around 5:30 AM there was an earthquake, we should have known then.**

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Drugs, Indiana, and Those Who Help

(Austin teacher/coach Brandon Stagnolia addressing volunteers before community clean up)
We read articles, we watch the nightly news, but most of us live in relatively safe neighborhoods, but we hear about the "drug war". Or we hear about how big of a problem drugs can be. If we are honest, too often there is someone close to us that has dealt with addiction and their battle to get clean. Recently, southern Indiana's Scott county, but more specifically the small town of Austin has been in the news due to an outbreak of HIV due to syringe drug users and their sharing of needles.

We are quick to make judgmental comments about how horrible these people are, but they really are just like you and me, aren't they? Who hasn't partaken in alcohol or some other recreational drug? It is very easy to become addicted to that drug and then advance to more dangerous things. Look at cigarettes. Once you are addicted, most people realize that it isn't good for them and would love to not be addicted to this poison. And unfortunately, it leads to them doing bad things or putting others that they love in horrible situations. I believe they should be held accountable for their actions, but they are addicted and sick.

People struggle, for some it's easier to be clean, for others it isn't. Thank God there are peopl willing to help and that there are groups willing to help clean up these communities. An article in the local newspaper showed the good that can come from this terrible situation in Austin, IN (you can read HERE).

Please reach out to Coach Brandon Stagnolia at Austin H.S. to encourage him and his wife and the actions he's taking to help take their community back!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Life as a Parent in Indiana

I don't really grade myself as a father, but I think I do "ok" most days, but I feel more as a failure each day in last few weeks. I think my biggest regret is that I lose my patience with them too fast, too soon.

I realize that they cannot be perfect, and I want them to enjoy being young, but there are some basics I want followed. Do what their mother and I say when we say it and get their homework done, rooms cleaned in an orderly fashion. Is that asking too much?

But they don't do it because, well, they're kids. Then my wife gets upset, then I get upset and then I am afraid I am hurting their confidence in explaining to them that their behavior is unacceptable. What is absolutely crazy is that in some of our worst moments where I feel they aren't living up to a bare minimum acceptance is when they get complimented by others for their behavior or responsibility.

To be real honest, lately, I feel worthless and that I am doing more damage than I am building up. I realize that I am not alone in this and that many parents feel the same way, but these are mine...I love them more than my own life and hope I am not screwing them up too badly.

But are my expectations too high? Probably and I am struggling to find the line of letting it go and holding them accountable.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

I Have No Words...Yet Here You Go

Are we getting less intelligent every day in western society? We have access to the known history of the world in most of our pockets. We have information that it might take days or weeks to get access to 20 years ago at our fingertips. Yet, are we researching answers less relying on Google's first option as our answer? Do we phrase questions on Google so that the answer we want automatically comes up?

It seems that as we seem to get smarter, we are actually growing less informed. If we read some smart aleck meme that was superficially researched by someone with a presupposition, that's the answer to my question or doubt.

It is amazing to me that anyone who is surrounded by anything and has questions will listen to the first person they think is smart because they are saying something that makes their life easier. The level of ignorance is escalating (uninformed).

Social media + opinion = expert.  People are posting opinions that are not completely formed (even though they think it is) on social media, then friends who know less than the poster is liking and commenting. I've been guilty of it a few times and am trying to research more before I post. Also, I try not to jump to conclusions and try to realize that even some of the worst human beings on social media are human beings with feelings.

But what do I know? I could be just as bad as the rest of us and probably worse.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

We Are All So Perfect, Aren't We?

I can be one of the worst people in the world in questioning something that is being done. I usually have a better answer or action, and complain if not done the way I think it should be done. I was told once by a friend that I have a strong belief in how things should be done and if they aren't done that way I grow frustrated easily.

As I've grown in my faith, I think I notice this more than before. Before, I did it and was okay with it, now I, at least, feel bad after and sometimes during when I am doing it.

But I have found myself to be more forgiving in recent years. Especially in situations in which I am not involved directly. Why do I feel the need to criticize someone who has done something wrong and then apologized? Who am I to question if it is sincere or not? I know, at some point you can't continue messing up over and over, at some point your behavior must change.

But I pay attention too much to everyone. Usually those that complain about the actions of someone else and are appalled at their actions have done similar things...and haven't apologized. We have become so holier than thou and with social media, well, it can be evil. I have a saying that goes like this:  social media+ opinion= expert. And an unforgiving, throwing stones type of expert we are.

John 8:7 "let he who is without sin, cast the first stone".  I hope when I do things wrong that people won't throw stones like I see on a daily basis. Because I can guarantee that I will mess up and I try not to give more people reasons to throw stones than already will do so.

Now situations that I am directly involved, I still struggle with...a lot. But I deal with these situations, it seems, much less than watching all of these people online living in glass houses throwing rocks. The more you attack, I promise, it will come back around to you someday.

So I try to minimize my criticism, but I still

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Post Season Blues...Nah!

When your season ends, and we have had two really nice runs the last couple of years, you feel many things. You may be happy about the run, you may be upset about the loss and how the season ended, but once it's all over, I tend to feel lost almost like wandering aimlessly.

If you think about it, basketball conditioning starts in October, full out practice in late November and then games also all the way through March. When the season ends it is a relief that the grind of practice is over. Yes, I said grind of practice. Practice after December gets tedious to me, lots of coaches love practice, I love the games.

But once your season is over, you can follow the state tournament and the NCAA tournament, but it isn't the same. You feel that you have lost something and you have, your regular routine. So you turn back into being around for your wife and kids and sometimes you think that you are less busy when basketball season is going on because you are running around so much. It makes me appreciate how wonderful my wife is during basketball season.

But when you have dealt with real loss, it isn't really depression, it isn't the "blues", it's just the loss of a routine that is so intertwined with your life that you can forget who you are sometimes. And who are we? We're husbands and fathers, wives and mothers, and its something that we should embrace because that's where our legacy's will truly lie.