Posted tagged ‘coach’

In Appreciation of Great Parents of Young Athletes

November 12, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           November 12, 2018

                              

One of the main reasons I decided to stop officiating basketball after the 2017 season and 16 years of wearing the stripes was out-of-control parents. Many of them have added to their resume’ and are now not just “helicopter parents”, but also “helicopter fans”!

Irrational and belligerent, abusive and hostile, they bring a dark side to youth athletics. When their son or daughter has an official make a marginal call that goes against their child you would think that the kid just got a reject letter from Harvard!

BUT there are “the others”! That is, there are the parents who are awesome and supportive; the parents who understand that the world does not turn on the basis of a roundball’s rotation; the parents who allow their son or daughter to experience failure and also success and don’t feel like they need to pave the path that only leads to victory.

Parental guidance and encouragement are the vital elements for a kid growing up and trying to figure out life, but they are elements that are too often missing. They are elements that many parents have pushed to the side in favor of outraged entitlement and having a messed-up view of what is really important in life.

The parents of my 8th Grade boys basketball team this year were awesome, and here’s why!

They let the coach coach! Their analysis and evaluation of the game and their son’s play didn’t happen until after the game, if at all! Never once did I have a parent shout instructions to their son from the bleachers. They applauded and encouraged, grimaced and smiled. I’ve heard too many horror stories of coaches being hounded and ridiculed by parents. My parents modeled how things should be!

They understood that we coach student athletes, not athletes who also happen to be students! None of my players had to sit out a week of games because they were academically in trouble. Their son’s grade point average is much more important than his scoring average or how many rebounds he gets in a game.

They modeled maturity! I’ve seen my share of parents who have been asked to leave gymnasiums because of their behavior. Last year the mom of a player from the team we were playing that day sat in the row behind our team bench…in our gym! Her voice was the loudest voice in the gym. If it was Cameron Indoor at Duke and the Blue Demons were playing North Carolina I could understand it, but this was a 7th Grade boys game. I had our security person ask her to move at halftime. She was not pleased! There were plenty of seats behind her team’s bench. The coach, a friend of mine, said to me after the game, “Great! You moved her down behind my bench and then I had to hear her!”

Some parents just don’t get it! And then you see their son or daughter turning into mom or dad!

Here’s the harsh truth! Officials and referees are hanging up their whistles because of parents! And coaches are calling it quits because of parents! 

My parents this year were awesome and that’s why I’ll be back for my 19th season next year…and consider myself blessed to be able to do it!

One Year Retired!!!

January 22, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           January 22, 2017

                                       

On January 17, 2016 I spoke for the last time at Highland Park Baptist Church in Colorado Springs, the church I pastored for sixteen and a half years. I went from a long-time pastor to a has-been pastor.

A week after I graduated from Northern Baptist Seminary in June of 1979 I began a position as Minister of Christian Education and Youth at First Baptist Church in Davison, Michigan. For the next thirty-six and a half years I ministered and pastored in churches of Michigan and Colorado.

And then it was time!

This last year has been awesome, not because I’m just sitting around each day watching my toe nails grow! My passions have always been “coaching” and “creating.” Pastoring and coaching have a number of elements that are similar. Creating and sermon-writing are like twin sisters. This past year has enabled me to do a lot more creating, blog-writing…working on a novel…thinking…pondering…conversing. And I’ve also been able to coach middle school football and basketball, coach a struggling small-town church as it navigates the future, and, most recently, coach roomfuls of 7th Graders in the discovery of Social Studies.

I headed into retirement thinking that I would golf more, work on my slice, hone my putting game. Instead, I actually golfed 7 holes all last summer. Yes, 7! A fog bank rolled in on us as we were getting to the 7th green, and then we couldn’t even see the 8th hole!

I headed into retirement thinking that I would read a lot of those theological books that look impressive on my book shelves but have been harvesting dust. (Pause) They are still harvesting dust. I’ve read a lot this past year, but not very much theology. I discovered a new treasure- the public library! Not a week goes by that I don’t go there at least a couple of times. I’m reading history and mystery! Carol has been pleased by the decreasing number of Amazon packages delivered to our front door. I’m currently reading Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August, about the outbreak of World War 1, Ken Bailey’s Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, and John Sandford’s Escape Clause. I just finished J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, that resonated a lot with my family’s Eastern Kentucky roots.

We headed into retirement thinking that we would travel more, and we have: road trips to Phoenix and Ohio, and a week in Hawaii; an upcoming family trip to San Diego and heading up a mission work team to British Columbia this summer.

Retirement has really been more a refocus. Carol tells people that I am now much more relaxed and less stressed. I enjoy traveling out to Simla and worshiping with the 20 folk at First Baptist Church. They have helped me fall in love with the church again.

Carol and I get to watch and be with the grandkids more. On Saturday nights I’m not worried about the Sunday sermon. This past week I sat on the couch with the two oldest “GK’s” and watched “The Secret Life of Pets” together. It was awesome to laugh with them about different parts of the film. They are a delightful trio…with their two-year old sister.

The hardest part of this past year has been the separation from many of the dear relationships I had with people of my former congregation. As a long-term pastor I’ve tried to keep my distance as the church navigated the journey ahead of them. There is a journey of loss for everyone involved, the congregation and the former pastor and pastor’s wife. I miss the Saturday morning men’s bible study group and the Thursday morning Ageless Wonders bible study. I’ve kept my distance from the Buddy Basketball program I started 14 years ago. Others have picked it up and continued it. I miss the conversation amongst the older saints, and I miss the group of young guys that I “coached” for several years in dialogue about their families and faith.

Retirement is about missing some things and moving on to others. I think the first year of ours have been done well. Thankfully we still have our health. Thankfully I can still talk to my dad every Sunday night on the phone. Thankfully I still have a couple of support groups that help keep me grounded and healthy. Thankfully Carol and I don’t get on each other’s nerves very often. (If Sister Wives is on TV I just leave the room! She did tape my snoring one night on her iPhone and sent the scene to me the next morning while I was substitute teaching. I just want to say, however,  that the film footage was very grainy, so it probably would not hold up in court as evidence!)

Year two of retirement began with a long-term substitute teaching position. What a hoot! Getting to spend most of each day with 120 7th Graders in a portable classroom! I could write a book!

Oh…I’m already writing a book!

I could write another book! Perhaps that will come in Retirement Year Three!

Memo to Coaches…Especially Coaches of Young People

November 6, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                             November 6, 2016

               

Dear Coaches,

Thank you for giving of your time, energies, and experience in the coaching of young athletes. I appreciate that! You are an invaluable resource for the teaching of the skills of each sport, the fundamentals, and the understanding of how a team functions.

Now I’ve got to say something on the other side of matters.

Quit it! Stop being jerks on the sidelines! Stop blaming the officials for the fact that some of your players can’t properly execute a pivot yet! Quit it! Knock it off!

As a basketball official for fifteen years now, blowing the whistle for everything from clueless kindergarteners all the way up to college basketball, I’ve seen my share of great coaches and coaches that take on other personalities when the game starts. It’s taught me a few things that I’d like to pass on to you.

Players follow the lead of their coach! If the coach questions every referee decision that goes against him his players follow suit. I recently had a middle school game where one coach was calm and controlled. His players, although not very skilled, were just as controlled as their coach. On the other bench was a man who was combative, yelled constantly, and demeaning. Some of his players followed the lead of their coach. They were out of control, overly aggressive, debated each call against them, and even less skilled than their opponents. The example of the coach got channeled through his players and through some of his parents. Two of his players fouled out, and I think a third player had four fouls. Meanwhile, the calmness of the first coach got transmitted through everyone connected to his team. The first coach questioned one of my whistles late in the game. He was calm and I walked over to him. “I thought he traveled before he got fouled.” I responded with a smile on my face. “Coach, you’re probably right.” He smiled at me. Meanwhile the other coach…”the boy who cried “Wolf!”…used up all of our hearing and we became deaf to his constant complaints.

Coaches, think about how you are acting!

Coaches, who have the opportunity to teach your players about more than a game. You have the incredible privilege of being able to teach them about life! If your view of life gets communicated through a sour disposition, your players, who look up to you, will begin to look at life through that kind of lens. Some of the best coaches are tough on players in preparing them for games, and also educators of the important lessons of life. The greatest coaches understand that the game revolves around life, not life around the game. Some of the worst coaches- that is, coaches who have screwed up priorities- think the game is everything!

As an official, who has also coached basketball for over twenty years, I see this “win at all costs mindset” being displayed in players to the point that they are not above injuring a player on the other team if it improves their chances of winning. The question is where did they learn that from? Who has the responsibility, and opportunity, to teach them sportsmanship and fair play? Who has the privilege of shaping their understanding of how the game is played?

The coach!

So, coaches, ask yourself a few questions. What are you going to teach your players about the game? What fundamental skills are you going to emphasize to them over and over again through different drills? What are you going to teach them about teamwork and team roles? What are you going to teach them about sportsmanship and having a good attitude? And, most importantly, what are you going to teach them about life?

Pictures

June 26, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           June 26, 2014

 

                                                  

 

My home study is populated with pictures. Pictures tell of what was, and provide sweet remembrances of times gone by.

Sitting on my desk in front of me is a framed picture of my granddaughter when she was two, dressed in the same red dress with white lace that her mom wore when she was also two. Reagan is staring at my when a smile on her face. If her picture came alive right now she could get whatever she wanted from her granddad!

Above her on the wall is a picture of the Mason High School Girl’s Junior Varsity basketball team that I helped coach in 1997. I’m wearing a sweet looking pair of khaki shorts and eye glasses that cover about two-thirds of my face. Eleven girls separate me from Coach Don Fackler, who is on the other side of the picture. Don taught me so much about coaching, and I miss him terribly. I find his voice coming out of my mouth so often in practice and at games. The girls in the picture have gone on to be moms, coach other teams, and develop callings and careers that we would never have imagined.

When I turn around the wall behind me is covered with team pictures of other teams I’ve coached through the years. Each picture is now still life, but my mind is flooded with memories when I gaze at each one of them. I remember the goofballs, the boys who would make me laugh hysterically, and the head cases that kept me awake at night.

Good teams! Bad teams! Teams that worked hard, and teams that didn’t know how to work.

At the top of the rows of pictures is my youngest daughter’s college cheer squad from University of Sioux Falls. She cheered for the Cougars all four years she was there and only experienced one defeat in football, that being one year in the NAIA championship game. The other three years they won the NAIA. She looks so fit and pretty in the squad picture. I’m a little reluctant to remind myself that she is my baby.

There are no wedding pictures in my study. For some reason those are confined to the guest bedroom, like a different exhibit in the museum.

Pictures tell a thousand stories and cause my soul to chuckle in delight.

Painting Fingernails

March 1, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                        March 1, 2013

There are sometimes things that a person does just because! Like taking your daughter to a Justin Bieber concert and realizing that the average age of the 20,000 attenders…not including yourself…is 13…rounded off to the nearest year! Why would a parent do such a thing? The answer: Just because!

Last week my girls’ basketball team had a team dinner. Great food, great time together…and then the fingernail polish came out! The twelve girls were painting their fingernails five different colors in preparation for the last game of the season the next day. (When my son’s soccer team was preparing for the state play-offs each of the players dyed their hair blonde!).

You may have already figured out what comes next in the story.

Coach, it’s your turn!”

What?”

It’s time to get your fingernails painted!”

I wouldn’t call it peer pressure that have me cave in. It was more like allowing them to paint my nails…just because! My wife had her cell phone out taking pictures like it was a Cover Girl photo op!

Blue…red…silver…orange…and black…on each hand! I left the team dinner decorated! The next day I spent a good deal of the time with my hands in my pockets or with gloves on. I discovered where the nail polish remover is located at Walgreen’s for use immediately after the game.

What I discovered is that painted fingernails is outside my comfort zone. I was completely aware of my counter-cultural masculine look anytime I was in public. Actually I was aware of it most of the rest of time as well, because my hands are usually palms down in front of me instead of palms up. When one of those nails on each hand is painted with a glittery silver it’s distracting.

Everyone of us has things that are outside our comfort zone. Sometimes we allow ourselves to enter the uncomfortableness “just because.” Sometimes we realize that what we are about is more important that our uneasiness.

I had the sense that everyone was looking at me in those few hours when I was  polished. It felt like I had just accidentally burped in the midst of a high-priced restaurant. The blush radiated!

What the experience also gain me was a sense of how someone new feels coming into a church situation. Like a 58 year old man with painted fingernails, there is an intimidation factor. It used to be that churches would recognize first-time visitors by having them stand or raising their hands to receive a special gift. Some would not agree with me on this one, but I think someone visiting a church for the first time feels uncomfortable enough as it is. “Churched people” may have lower anxiety levels, but unchurched people aren’t sure what they are getting themselves into in just being there at all. They may be there “just because.” Like a parent at a Justin Bieber concert, it may very well be a one-and-done experience. What would prompt an unchurched person to want to come back again? Probably about three things! One would be an encounter with the “mystery of the holy.” That they would experience something that they can’t quite describe, but know that something has been stirred within them.

Two would be that the person senses in some way that what happens in worship has relevance for life. It isn’t a “how to” seminar, but rather a look at life through a different lens or from a different perspective.

And three would be that the person would have a sense that the people of the faith gathering are fellow life journeyers, who haven’t arrived, but are still on the journey. The church would convey words like “help”, “compassion”, “inviting”, “grace”, “hope”, and “affirmation”, not “judgment”, “arrogance”, “apathy”, and “frosty.” The reason I was willing to have my fingernails glitter is that twelve other girls had already done it. Even though it was uncomfortable think how uncomfortable…and weird…it would have been if they would have done my nails, but not done their own. Sometimes the church has a critical eye about those who are uncomfortably seeking. In a culture where many people desire to stand out there is still an uncomfortableness about standing out in new situations.

I’ve used the nail polish remover, but the interesting thing is that there is still some residue…okay, maybe a better term is evidence…of the polish. One of my thumbnails that are painted orange looks like I had an orange slushie that leaked. But as I look at it, weird as it seems, I have good memories of that evening…just because.