Saturday, February 25, 2012

One Proud Momma

This was Jaxon's first year to play basketball, and it has been a great season. Jax has really learned a lot. I've watched him become more aggressive and improve his shooting ability. He listened to his coaches well all season. He knows the names of his teammates and has made new friends. He has really had fun, too.

Jaxon's team was 3 points away from an undefeated season. After losing to Wedowee in the first game of the season by a score of 12-10, The Woodland team went on to win every game. They closed the season with a win over that same Wedowee team to claim the Randolph County 5/6 Championship. Way to go little Bobcats! I have thoroughly enjoyed watching these young girls and boys learn about basketball.

Randolph County 5/6 Champs
I've been proud of little number 6 all season, from his hard work to making mean faces at his opponents. After his first ever shot was on the opponent's goal, Jaxon has turned in to a pretty good basketball player. He was almost always in the right spot on the floor. He had several rebounds in each game. He wasn't a selfish teammate. And he was always paying attention. I've had many reasons to be proud of him, but tonight, I had my proudest moment yet. And it had nothing to do with basketball.

After winning the championship, the team celebrated the season at Pizza Hut. The whole team was seated at the same table, wearing Woodland jerseys and big smiles. When the pizza arrived, one of the little guys asked if they were going to ask the blessing . So, the coach's wife started looking for volunteers. Heads were shaking "no" all around. Then, one little hand raised hesitantly in the air. It belonged to a little boy who has never asked a blessing in front of anyone. A little boy who decided to stand up in front of his peers and give it a try. A little boy wearing number 6.

And his mother had tears in her eyes.

Jaxon wasn't the team's leading scorer or rebounder. While he was as good as any of them, no one would say he was 'the best'. He wasn't the tallest or fastest either. But tonight, he lead his team in a much more important way. And I could not have been prouder. The most important thing a young athlete can learn is how to glorify God in everything he does, on the court or on the field or in life. See, it isn't just about winning.

No, playing sports not about pushing kids to win. It's about giving them an opportunity to learn things about themselves, about who they are. How will I respond in the face of a challenge? Can I find strength when I've played my heart out already but there's still time on the clock? How do I handle the wins and the losses? Can I work as part of a team? Can I earn the respect of others? Can I do what a coach tells me even when I don't understand? Am I willing to work for the successes I desire? Can I be a leader when called upon? And so much more... That's why I encourage mine to play. And, they are learning.

At the close of every practice and game with his 9/10 year-old team, Coach circles his players up for prayer. He always asks if any of them would like to pray. Sometimes they do. Wonder where Jaxon got the courage to raise that little hand? I don't. Next time I say a prayer, I won't forget to thank God for good coaches (and daddies, too). I hope you will do the same.

Monday, February 20, 2012

"Hey Coach...!!!"

Imagine if you went to work tomorrow and there was a room full of people waiting to see how you do. They all think they have some stake in the outcome, and they all think they know just as much about how to do your job as you do (even though, most of them haven't had the first bit of training in your field of expertise). You find yourself having to make split-second decisions while the crowd of people yell and scream, sometimes for you but mostly just at you. If that's not enough, your success or failure at the end of the day depends upon teenagers.

Get the picture?

Because we get to see some of what they do, a lot of us think we know what coaching is like. I used to think I knew a fair amount about sports until I married a coach. There's so much more to it than people really understand. For this reason, I've decided to write a multi-part series taking a behind-the-scenes look at what all Coach does as part of his job. Hopefully, I'll be able to dispel some myths and clear up some misconceptions as well. Maybe you can even let me know what you might be interested in finding out.

By no means do I consider myself an expert. But, I can tell you what I've learned from my own experiences. It's a very tough job. It's physically, mentally, and sometimes emotionally draining. And, it never ends. There's a reason why there are more people in the stands than on the sidelines.

You may wonder: do people really yell ugly things at the coaches? Um...yeah. They do. All the time. People call them names and criticize every decision they make. Not all people, of course. But it happens with a frequency that might surprise you. Some of them get down-right nasty. It's almost like they think that chain-link fence can protect them from retaliation, so they take can take whatever shots they won't. It's not the fence keeping the coaches off of them, though.

As a young coach's wife, I had to learn to deal with the things I heard from my seat in the stands. It was hard at first. But, it didn't take long to realize that the people who say nasty things about the coaches know so little about the sport or sportsmanship that they aren't even worth getting angry over. And, the coaches really don't hear most of it. It's much tougher on us wives. That's how I deal with most of it. Still, there have been a couple of instances where someone takes it too far, and I can't take it any more. They forgot that I was on the same side of the fence as they were.

It's great to support your team. It's fun to yell and cheer and be a part of it all. But, when cheers become criticisms of players or coaches, you have to ask yourself what you're really doing. No matter what you think, those men out there want to win more than you do. They are doing and have done far more than you can imagine to try to make that happen. Your yelling at them isn't helping.

If you need help knowing how to support your team appropriately, just look for the cheerleaders. They are trying to help! They even have signs. Remember what we learned from the idiot in the stands...and just yell "Go Team". And, it wouldn't hurt to throw in a word or two of appreciation to the players and their coaches. Just sayin'.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Basketball Before Birthdays

I want my birthday to be a BIG deal. Perhaps this stems from growing up as a triplet, where Februray 16th was three times the birthday in our house. For whatever reason, I like for birthdays to be special. Mine kicks of the Birthday Gauntlet, a 7 week span in which we celebrate a birthday for each of the four Baileys (plus my Dad's and my triplet sisters - making that 7 in all).

Since my special day, apply dubbed "Amanda Day", is so close to Valentine's Day, I like to start the celebration early. Every year, the birthday festivities include special dinner plans. This year, the plan was to do the usual birthday dinner this weekend,due to basketball games next weekend. Coach always takes me to dinner at the place of my choosing, usually far out of town. We'd planned to leave right after lunch. But, things have not gone as planned.

The original plan was to cancel the regularly scheduled Friday night practice for Coach's little guys. But, the Woodland 9/10 Blue team played Tuesday night, and let's just say that they looked like they could really use that practice. After a short discussion, we decided that the birthday dinner was definitely second in the priority list behind ball tonight.

Don't feel bad. It was my idea. They do need the practice. They have three games next week and a tournament. Plus, we're still going. Just later. There may be some wives who would be upset at having to rearrange plans for basketball. But, not this one.

On a side note, Devin played his best game in the losing effort on Tuesday night. It makes me proud to see how hard he's working.