Joy in the Journey
Tomorrow we travel to Norfolk for our first-round district game. We have had a great week of practice preparing for a really good Panther team. They are talented, well-coached and play smart basketball. It will be a battle and a great opportunity for us to lay it all on the line.
The longer I coach the more sentimental I get, or so it seems. This team has been through so much I literally well up with tears thinking of the end, whenever that should be. It all started with Big Zach blowing out his knee the last quarter of the football playoffs. Then a concussion (Andrew). A broken nose (Z again). Another knee (Dom). An ankle (Ryan). The list is long, but that's not the point. The message here is this team's heart.
Led by the seniors (Bussard, DiGiacomo, Jatczak, Nekola, Van Ackeren), this group of players has ever so slowly forged into a "Team". A resilient team. Unselfishly putting others first. That's apparent in their ball movement and willingness to share the basketball, but even moreso off the court. They have truly become a joy to coach. I don't want this to end. I want another practice. Another film session. Another grind together.
Equally as encouraging are my assistants (As shown above. Not pictured: Coach Wills-Sorry). These co-workers (and their families) are top-notch. Having them travel alongside me (and my wife Lisa) is nothing short of amazing! I learn so much from each of them everyday. From Coach Simpson's analytical math mind breaking down every possession, to Coach Cooley's second to none scouting savvy, to Coach Hamburger's player development, to Coach Wills's overall program passion, to Coach McCarthy's Hudl expertise, to Coach Fehr's enthusiasm...I am blessed! However, it's so much more than what they offer the program. It's the brotherhood we experience as a result of the process.
Let's do this district thing. Let's live to play another day. Let's love, serve and care for this team together!
Norfolk Game Post Script:
I didn't anticipate the season coming to an end this abruptly, but rarely does it ever end like you want it to in high school sports. The Panthers were everything we thought they would be. Great atmosphere, talented, well-coached; and we fought our hearts out!
To magnify a few of my earlier mentions, allow me to share an occurrence or two following the game last night: 1) After a long haul home, our captains led the team in cleaning up all of the trash in the bus. You read that correctly, on a night when no one would blame Big Z and his teammates for wallowing in their own self-pity, they chose to think of others first. Let me reiterate what I said earlier: It's been a joy to coach this team! 2) My longtime coaching warriors, Coach Simpson and Cooley, both capped off the night encouraging me with the following texts:
Simpson: "I wouldn't want to do this with anybody else. Blessed to have a son getting coached by two of the best."
Cooley: "I haven't had a season around you guys that I haven't thoroughly enjoyed. It's just an absolute blast. I'm already looking forward to building this team next year!"
Simply amazing. The opportunity to coach hard working, humble student-athletes alongside a brotherhood of coaches is truly a gift not to be taken for granted. Thank you, Lord. To God be the glory!