Posted tagged ‘athletics’

Why I Wrote A Book

November 13, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        November 13, 2017

                            

I’ve enjoyed writing in my spare time, and now especially in my retired life time. I’ve progressed just a bit since I flunked English Composition my first quarter in college back in 1972. And now I’ve written a book!

Before you become too dismayed let me say that it hasn’t been published yet! In fact, two special friends who edited the manuscript for me are helping me figure out what publishers  and literary agents to send it to, and what each of those publishers and agents look for. So…it’s done, and yet it’s a long ways from being done!

The book is about a young man who has moved to a new town in West Virginia with his family. His dad is the new pastor of the First Baptist Church (Yes, that sounds familiar!), and the young man is going into ninth grade. New town, new school, and he has bright red hair. Everyone notices him! This young man is an exceptional basketball player, but also a teenager who has great character and humbleness.

And that’s why I wrote the book! In my twenty plus years of coaching and sixteen years of basketball officiating I’ve witnessed a growing trend: athletes who think the world should stop and pay homage to them for making a three point jump shot. There is the stink of arrogance that has filtered into athletics. I long to find the young athletes who have a firm grasp on the reality of life; that athletics is a form of fun and recreation and there are many other things in this life that are much more important.

That list includes such pursuits as treating everyone with respect, showing compassion to the hurting and grace to the fallen, making responsible decisions, and seeking to serve in various ways.

Young athletes need parents who are well-grounded and lead their sons and daughters towards that healthy understanding of what life is all about. Sometimes warped young people are the direct result of having parents who were already twisted in their priorities !

And so I wrote a fictional story about a kid who understood that making a free throw wasn’t as important as his friendship with the seventh grade neighbor boy who had always been made to feel he wasn’t good enough.

I wrote a book about a young man who held the idea of being a team as being more important, win-or-lose, than being the star of a team.

I wrote a book about a new kid in a place of unwritten traditions and practices who lives a life that has been planted with humility and fertilized with grace. I’m hoping that in the future I will meet that young man often and each day, whether it be a court, a field, a stage, or a track.

Coaching Twelve Year Old Football Rookies

August 31, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                             August 31, 2016

                          

Yesterday was the first game for the Timberview Middle School Timberwolves 7th Grade football team. Thirty-one excited twelve year olds boarded the yellow school bus for the slow forty minute ride to one of the southern schools in our league. Most of them even had their uniforms on correctly!

With their blue game pants and blue jerseys on this is still the greenest group of kids I’ve ever coached! Most of them are more familiar with Madden 2016 than what a Spread Formation looks like. There are some powerful thumbs in this group, but have them drop and do push-ups and you quickly realize that the power begins and ends in the big digits.

This “green” blue team is a great group of kids, and I love coaching with Coach Steve Achor, but we knew we weren’t ready for our first game. Lightning had forced us inside so much in our first week that we had only been able to have three days of player to player contact. Understand that those three days included the coaching discoveries of who even wanted to tackle and who wanted to just hang out by the water cooler as we were tackling. Middle school football always has kids who just aren’t totally convinced they want to be there. It sounded good to them upfront, with the uniforms being sharp and all, but once the contact started and a few of those hot August afternoons in full football pads arrive, the scent of uncertainty becomes as profound as the odor in the boy’s locker room.

A few years ago I had a player who was in his first year of playing football. He was never entirely convinced that it was a good thing to do. One day in practice he was playing cornerback and was so close to the sideline he looked like a pony trying to make a break for the open range. I said to him, “Teddy (Not his real name)! Come on in some closer to the play! There’s no one over there!” He looked at me, and with his high-pitched voice said, “No! I’m okay out here!”

And so we traveled with excitement and uncertainty. More than half of our squad had never played football before. Several of them are not tall enough to ride roller coasters at the amusement parks yet. Several others would be too timid to ride a roller coaster yet. Last Friday we had a controlled intra-squad scrimmage…after the lightning storm had passed and we were allowed to go outside! It gave some of our players a warped idea of how good they were, as the first-team running backs kept running for touchdowns against the second unit defense. Could it be this easy? Players answer: Yes! Coaches’ answer: No! No! No!

The plan was to keep the play calling simple. Amazingly no turnovers happened the whole game. On the other hand, every play had something that needed correcting. The good thing about first games is they show you so many things that need to be worked on in practice.

The final score was 28-8, and the home team’s last TD came in the last minute of the game. My back-up quarterback had to play the last quarter. Let me emphasize…my back-up quarterback who I had just discovered in an informal conversation the day before to have played some quarterback and had not practiced that position yet…yes, that back-up quarterback…had to play the last quarter. We scored our touchdown at the beginning of that quarter on a seventy yard sweep run. I sent the play in for the two-point conversion, and quickly noticed everyone standing around in confusion. I yelled “Let’s go! Let’s go!”, and I heard one player say “Coach, we’re missing Brandon!” Brandon is the back-up quarterback. He had been watching Peyton Manning too much, and Peyton Manning was never in for the PAT. Welcome to middle school football!

But you know something! I love coaching these kids! Coach Achor and I have the unique privilege and opportunity to teach them about the game and life, to help them experience what it means to be a team with ups and downs, trials and successes. Bottom line: I am truly blessed!

A Passion for Good Sportsmanship

February 14, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                        February 14, 2013

 

 

I was at the Air Force Academy basketball game last night where they hosted UNLV. This is my second year being a season ticket holder for Falcon home games, and I love it! Getting season tickets is a little easier here than it is for Duke, Kansas, Michigan State, or North Carolina. A year ago when I went to get them about two weeks before the season opener I was surprised to discover that our seats are in the fourth row in between the Air Force bench and the scorer’s table. Evidently there aren’t that many season ticket holders.

This year the Falcons are gathering more and more fans since they are doing well. Let me tell you, there were a lot of open seats around us for the Western State and Regis games back in November, than there are now.

Last night as Air Force pulled off a great win against the Runnin’ Rebels I was taken back by the obnoxious comments by some of the fans around me. Why do grown adults think that it’s okay to scream “You suck!” at players visiting from another university. When an official makes a call that goes against the home team, even if it is suspect, why should people express their rage with such hate and venom? It wasn’t cadets that were screaming obscenities, but it was fans of an institution that raises the call of integrity, honor, and service.

And the thing is it seems to be getting worse! At a recent high school game where the team I help coach was getting beat pretty bad, a couple of adults were screaming in the otherwise quiet gym as one of our players was shooting free throws. Not students, mind you! Adults! I’m even assuming they were parents, but can not confirm that. All I know for sure, is that it was two middle-aged women sitting in the top row cat-calling. Their team was up by 30! Our team was feeling deflated enough as it was, but to have two middle-aged women cat-calling…sad!

I don’t understand schools raising money to fight cancer by having students wear pink, or coaches wear tennis shoes, promote it with announcements…and then when the game starts hurl expletives at players and officials.

There seems to be a growing passion for obnoxiousness in sports. And it isn’t restricted to spectators by any means. Players and coaches have often signed on to act like jerks as well. The number of technical fouls for players taunting has risen substantially.

There needs to be a passion for good sportsmanship. It needs to grab hold of our athletic commitment and fuel the approach to the game.

The integrity of the game and the fun of simply playing the game must trump any desire to humiliate the opponent.

The passion for good sportsmanship must be one of the foundational principles for any competitive situation. It must be a non-negotiable!

Recently I had a situation where of my players had a momentary heated encounter with a player from the other team. I used it as a teachable moment to express my belief that our attitude and actions must not be compromised simply because of differing attitudes and actions of others.

Spiritually speaking, my commitment to Jesus does not get thrown into the backseat simply because I encounter a situation where our culture says it is appropriate to do what suits me. My commitment stays as the main thing.

As a Christian who coaches I understand that if I compromise my principles it communicates to my players that its okay for them to compromise theirs as well.

Bottom line, a passion for good sportsmanship must be rooted within us. Sadly, it is becoming so unusual these days that I think more and more people don’t know what it is or what it looks like.