The winter sports season is in full swing with the basketball, wrestling, and swim/dive teams well into their practices and games. With an entire season ahead, players and coaches have set goals in regards to what they hope to accomplish for the season, whether individually or as a team. As Head JV Boys Basketball Coach, I have the privilege of working with sophomore and juniors on developing their skills and leadership abilities over the course of the next four months. The more I have transitioned from player to coach, the more I have come to realize that sports are a reflection of life.
As I progress through life, the more I see the same challenges from everyday life present on the court: what to do when something goes wrong, how to deal with difficult people, what to do when something is done well because of you, what to do when you do not feel like working, what to do when a challenge seems insurmountable, what to do when someone is better than you at a given task, what to do when someone is worse than you at a given task, what to do when you fail. My hope is that if you read that list through the lens of everyday life, that you can reread it through the lens of sports and see those same challenges on the court, field, mat, or pool; same for the flipside. As coaches, our jobs are not to simply teach X’s and O’s but to help develop young adults who can navigate the challenges that life throws at them by giving them a glimpse of that within practice or a game.
Hanging above the stairs to the lower gym is a poster with a quote from legendary college basketball coach John Wooden: “Sports don’t build character; they reveal it.” Say a player has a turnover in a basketball game. Do they blame themselves? Do they blame others? Do they hang their heads? Do they pull themselves up by the bootstraps, wipe it from their memory, and get after the next play? The answer to that question can reveal their character. Say a student fails a test in Biology. Do they blame themselves? Do they blame the teacher? Do they hang their heads? Do they pull themselves up by the bootstraps, wipe it from their memory, and revise their study habits for the next test? The answer to that question can reveal their character.
By giving student athletes a low-risk way to confront these challenges through practices and games, we coaches hope that we can better equip our players to deal with the everyday troubles of life through the character that is built through faith in Christ. Only by his transforming power can we wrestle these problems in a way that glorifies and points others to Him, both on the court and in everyday life.
Science Teacher and JV Basketball Coach