The coach checked the upcoming schedule. He looked at one particular game and circled it. He remembered the first game against this team. It brought back feelings of anger. He remembered how his girls reacted during each timeout.
“Coach..they are playing dirty…they are elbowing us. They are grabbing our jerseys and holding us.”
“…I know…I know…I have been talking to the refs. It’s not right.”
That was their first game. And at the end of the game he knew what they were thinking.
“Is this what teams have to do to win games? Cheat? Is that the way to play this game?”
He called the team over for one last huddle.
“…That is not how you play the game ok? We don’t play like that…we play it the right way, ok? Keep your heads up, girls.”
So, the coach was anxious for this game.
And when the buzzer sounded, it was obvious the other coach and his team hadn’t changed their ways. They grabbed jerseys…they elbowed…they pushed and knocked his girls over. He couldn’t take it anymore. He yelled at the referees and time seemed to stand still.
“C’mon…that’s a foul. That is dirty.”
The ref turned to him.
“Coach..calm down…calm down….you need to settle down.”
“Those are dirty plays ref….they are mugging my girls out there…c’mon. Is this football? Are we wearing football jerseys? Are we wearing football helmets? Did we somehow get teleported to a football field and realized we are NOT supposed to be playing basketball? Are you a wizard that teleported us? Are you a wizard and referee? Well great job wizard referee.”
He could see the other team’s coach sneering. He could feel his blood start to boil.
Play resumed and another hard foul and one of his girls hit the ground hard. The coach exploded.
“WHAT! WHAT! You are gonna injure someone…” A foul was called.
And he heard the other coach yell out.
“Girls…girls…do I teach you to play like that?” It was full of sarcasm.
The final buzzer sounded and the coach was livid. But, he had to maintain his composure. He pulled his girls to the side.
“Look, look. Do not think for one second that what that team did was right. It seems like everything was against us today, girls. That team….their dirty tactics…and their dirty coach…and the refs. Let’s look at this like a life lesson. Sometimes, in life, everything seems to be against us….and that will happen. But, you fight….you fight for what you believe in…you fight for each other…no matter what. Look at the scoreboard. The first time we played them, they beat us by 23 points. This time…we only lost by 7. Do not be discouraged. I am so proud of you. You didn’t give up…you fought til the end. Great job girls. Now, let’s get in line and shake the other team’s hands.”
But, in his head…he did not want to shake the other coach’s hand. He was angry. How can someone teach their team to play like that? Someone could have been seriously hurt. But, he stood in line and waited to shake the other coach’s hand. The other coach approached him and said.”
“Way to play the game coach…”
The comment hurt the brand new coach.
“What is that supposed to mean?”
I am an emotional person. But, I know as a coach, I need to keep things internally and show a calm exterior. And just writing this makes me angry…but that happens in sports. You run into other teams who have different values as yours….and you have to learn to adapt to their style…and find a way to win.
This is not just in sports…..yes, this lesson was learned on the basketball court….but, hopefully this lesson learned gets leaked out into the hearts of my team.
“Sometimes, life’s problems seem to be stacked against you. But, that doesn’t mean you should give up. You reach inside yourself and find strength. You fight. You fight for you…your teammates…your family. You fight for what you believe in.”