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

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

We Are Different, But So Much Alike...Colombia

The difference in cultures when I travel over seas are so overly noticeable to me because that's one of the greatest parts of traveling globally to me.

I mean, if I wanted to see trees and hills every day, I'd stay in Southern Indiana and never leave, but I want to see the world, both here and abroad.

When I recently traveled to Colombia, I wasn't there but a few days, but long enough for me to notice some similarities to other places in the world.

People are hospitable.

Sure, those who are in charge of taking care of your needs like room and board, but so are the people you come into contact with.

Some part of it, I'm sure, is because I am a basketball coach in a basketball world where the US is respected greatly.

But some of it, I think, is because people often who have less worldly goods, seem to have a joy that we miss here. I think that speaks volumes to our murder and suicide rates, and to our alcohol, and drugs addictions here in the good ol US of A.

But a couple things that I noticed in Cali the night we drove from the airport to our hotel stood out the most.

First, it was about 1-2 AM in the morning.

Second, we went well over the speed limit through downtown not stopping at stop lights. We were told that when you stop at the lights, or you go too slow you will be in trouble. Either the policia think you are doing something wrong, or people will run out at the lights and rob you, possibly worse.

Third, everything was locked up. I mean houses, businesses, everything had fences around them and were locked up and the fences were not the kind you would want to climb over either or you would be injured or worse.

Fourth, on the second day of our basketball clinic, I pulled out money to pay for something, and when I did, I was told quickly to put the money away, to never do that again in public or around strangers.

Though the people were considerate, there seems to be a crime issue. Maybe the joy from those who have less is nice, but they are also striving to have more whether legally or illegally.

And I am in no way naive to think that Colombia or other countries do not have drug or alcohol issues. I am in no way willing to think that other countries are some perfect utopia and I would be much happier there than home in the US.

But I am willing to make the statement that you can be happy other places and I often wonder if Capitalism (the best form of economic structure that exists) isn't responsible for some of the worst things in our world.

And really, it's not Capitalism's fault, it's our sinful nature of wanting, desiring more.

That's something, I'm not sure I would have fully understood unless I had been overseas.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Very, Very, Very, Very Different Culture (Indonesia)

In 2012, I visited the country of Indonesia. We stayed at Universita Pelitas Harapan, a Christian university in Tangerang district.

I went with Athletes in Action and when we landed in Manila, Philippines, I could tell this place (Asia) was like no place I had ever been.

Before I left, I would see, smell, taste and experience things that you do not see in the West.

The bathrooms were not western, you had to squat over them and my first experience with this was in the Singapore airport bathroom. I didn't have to use it, but I saw one there like that.

When we landed in Indonesia, the language was so hard to distinguish words than I had done in Eastern Europe and Iceland (Icelandic may have been just as hard to understand though).

The food was, well, I am a picky eater and I ate a lot of rice and chicken while there if that explains anything.

But I saw children playing by large dumps of trash with rats close by on their property living in the median of an Interstate.

I saw huge, multi million buildings housing schools for rich people and children right next to some of the worst slums I have experienced.

The contrast in the two worlds there was different, distinct and not separated.

Here, we have poor people, we have slums, we have some of the worst conditions in the world, but we tend to hide them, if possible, so that we don't have to see them.

They didn't worry about that there.

I also felt a little more reserved in walking down the streets.

First, I looked different. At 6'0 and white, I stood out in a group of people.

Second, when it came to our faith, we were not allowed to even mention it unless asked about it first. Because Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world and with Christians being the minority, they are not allowed to proselytize.

Again, the people were warm and caring and a consistent feeling I have gotten outside of this country is much more warm.

I very much appreciate my experience there and the friendships I formed, but seeing some of the things I did there, changed the way I see my every day life here in the USA.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Traveling to a More Secular Country...Iceland

(Iceland in June)
I've decided that I would write about experiences that have really changed my outlook the last few years on my travels both home and abroad.

Yesterday, I wrote about Macedonia, today is a more general feeling when I traveled to Iceland.

Iceland is a beautiful place (really, to me, everywhere is), and some of the sights I saw, I had never seen and may never again.

The people were wonderful also. They were accommodating, they were helpful, kind and wonderful to me and the other coaches that were there working a basketball camp.

Western Europe and especially countries like Iceland have grown more and more secular over the last few decades. Their feelings and beliefs on God or religion have grown more and more cultural and less personal, at least that's what I read about Icelanders.

I can't explain what it was, but it felt different there. It felt as if there were no real connection with faith and because it is important to me, I felt disconnected. Religion was ridiculed around me, and I had a couple of conversations that started hostile, but turned into respectful disagreement when it came to Christianity.

I really don't have anything to put a finger on because the people were so good to me and you can tell they love and care about their families and their country. I'm not sure.

Maybe it was me and my pre-conceived notion of what I would encounter when visiting.

But I am still confused sometimes on my time there.

I met some wonderful people that I still am in contact with today, but I felt something different about my experience. The people were not poor or struggling and did not "need" me or anyone else.

Would I go back?


I often wonder if it was what I was going through at the time and very well could have been, as I had my first real panic attack and had a full heart work out before leaving.

I pondered my mortality more during that time and as I needed the comfort and support of close family and friends, I was in this wonderful, cold country, but not getting that attachment.

Who knows, but I would be willing to bet that my experience there has more to do with what I was going through than the country.

I'm not sure.

And it's something I can't let go of wondering.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

My First Reality Check at Being the 1%...Macedonia

(Lake Ohrid, Macedonia)
In the last 8 or 9 years my faith has grown in many ways. Obviously, experiences will do that, but I wanted to write about some of them and share why I feel the way I do. I will take the next few days and post one story from those travels both at home and abroad. It will be for anyone who happens to read this stuff, but also for my two kiddos. I want them to know more than I did at their ages.

The first time I flew on a plane was in 2010 when I went to work basketball camps in Macedonia and Serbia. I really, really enjoyed that experience, but it was in Macedonia that I experienced my first taste of what it meant to be in the 1% of the world population economically.

One night 4 or 5 of us coaches went out to eat at a small little restaurant in the town. The people there were very good to me and I had not paid for any food since I had arrived. Not because of me, but because of the Macedonian hospitality. They go above and beyond what is expected to make a visitor feel welcome.

On that night, my friend asked if I could cover the meal we had just finished and it was no problem at all!!! We had all eaten individual pizzas, drank soft drinks and some of them had a beer. I asked how much would cover it and my friend said $20 American dollars should do it. He went across the street, converted the money, then brought it back to me.

I asked how much to leave, thinking no way 20 would cover what we had bought, yet he grabbed some of the money from me and said that "this" would cover it.

It was about $15.

I was shocked.

So when the waiter came to the table, I just gave the whole thing which included a $5 tip. There was some conversing between my friend and this waiter as though there was confusion on the payment, then as it got straightened out, the waiter looked at me and thanked me over and over in Macedonian "Fala, fala!".

As we walked back to the hotel that night, I asked what was the big deal with the waiter and his reaction to the payment, I had no clue what happened.

My friend said "Coach, in Macedonia, we don't tip. You do the job, you get paid, but coach that guy probably makes $5 a day and you gave that to him in one tip."

With those words, it transformed how I saw everyone working on the side of the road while I visited.

I took a few hundred dollars with me on this travel and with only a few days left, I hadn't spent much of that money.

In those last three days, I tried to spend or give away as much as I could.

It hit me how much money I had compared to these people in Eastern Europe and I wanted to try and help any way I could while I was there.

It was a big smack in the face of what I had vs. many people in the world.

It was a big smack in the face of what I thought I did NOT have vs. what others did not have in the world.

That experience was the first step in helping me understand how well off I had it and has never left me to this day, and I will not allow it to ever leave me.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

How Soon We Forget

Student cheer sections.

They rarely exist anymore.

There once was a time when the only thing to do in town on a Friday night was attend the local boys' basketball game, but today is a different time.

There are many more sports and there are many other things to do, so students often do not attend their classmates' athletic events.

It does happen, and we have a very good student section (when motivated) at Silver Creek.

The O-Zone.

Kids today...they often cross the line of what is appropriate or acceptable, we all did when we were younger and need to be reminded when to cross back over the line of acceptability.

But kids...if they don't attend athletic events are often critiqued that they don't have school spirit "like when I was in school".

But if they do attend, they do get involved, they do get passionate and loud and they do cross the line from time to time, they are attacked by adults on social media.

Kids do need guidance.

And I think it is relatively healthy to be disliked by other school communities because of the passion a student population has for its classmates, but for high school kids to be criticized in public by their own people...I just don't get it.

I do understand concerns and complaints, I have my own from time to time, but I don't get the idea of complaining on social media about a situation until it has been given a chance to resolve.

And to me, comments that I know to be untrue hurt the overall statement of any complaint.

Adding exaggeration does nothing but create a hostile situation.

Thanks to the students here who love their school, their classmates, and want to show their passion for that school.

How soon we forget what it was like to be young and enthusiastic.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Hope in a Hopeless Moment

I recently returned from Denham Springs, Louisiana.

That area and much of the surrounding areas were flooded recently and the situation there is dire and what seems like a long haul to overcome until any type of normalcy is established.

A couple of members of my family and I went down to take supplies and money that our church has raised. Our former pastor has lost his home, his church and is dealing with many members of his church who have lost everything.

And Wow! The idea of a flood is cruel. As the water rises slowly, it is telling all those that it is coming shortly and when it does, it isn't going to take your stuff, it's going to get it really wet and then leave it for you to throw out.

What you do then is go through your stuff and throw out your life. All of your stuff and memories end up piled on the lawn to be picked up and thrown into a landfill.

Yet the people in that area seem to have good attitudes about the whole situation. I'm sure there have been tears, feelings of hopelessness and it will probably get worse before it gets better. But there were laughs, smiles, and the sharing of what little people have. There are supplies starting to come in from all around the country and the people are not complaining...too much.

There hasn't been wide spread looting, or rioting over what hasn't been done or what hasn't been there to visit. The people have just gotten their hands dirty and are taking care of themselves.

They will get past this, it will take awhile, it will be hard, but they aren't pointing fingers, they're taking care of themselves and each other.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

What Would Younger Me Think?

I enjoy both being a parent and teaching.

You are around the future.

Not just communally, but to see all of the potential things that these young people can do with their lives, it makes me somewhat envious.

Don't get me wrong, I love my life, I don't think I could do better than I have, but I see them and understand how they can do literally anything they want to do.

Then I think of myself as a young person and wonder if my younger self could see me what would he think?

Would I be the type of dad he'd want?

Would I be the type of human being he'd want?

It's crazy to think that the younger me is really me with time and experience.

I have never left me, I am right here and have been since the beginning.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

What's Goin On?

Have you noticed that the discourse online is much worse than in real life?

What causes that disconnect with face to face interaction?

Why do we feel the need to "correct" others and do it in a way that would never change their behavior or mind?

Why does this bother me so much?

Why can't I let go of social media all together?

Thursday, August 4, 2016

But I Can't Say "No"

This morning our SCHS Lit teacher, Mr. Paul Hankins, gave my two children some gifts.

The gifts?


There are a couple of things I cannot say "no" to when it comes to my kiddos.

One is when they ask to play outside. They don't do it enough and seem to always want to be involved with technology within the walls of our house.

The second is "Can I buy this book?"

How in the world could I say no if my kids want books? I can't.

And gifts...even more easy to say yes.

Thanks again Mr. Hankins.