Saturday, September 12, 2009

More in the way of passages: A championship




One of my son’s best friends turned 20 yesterday-- a great kid, no longer a kid any more. And that means my own son will be 20 in just a few short months. Wow! How did that happen so fast. It got me reflecting on things even more. And one thing that came to mind was one of the times I was most proud of him.

When he was in elementary school in one way or another I coached his youth basketball teams. When he moved on to junior and then senior high school he was in the hands for more experienced coaching but I missed the participation. One year while he was younger, I suggested we both coach a youth basketball team and we volunteered.

He must have still been in junior high at the time because he wasn’t all that much taller than the fourth and fifth graders we were coaching. I tried to stand back and let him do as much of the coaching as he would.

One night after practice he started playing a kid one on one. Pretty soon it was two on one and then three and so on until there were seven of them. And he beat them. I had always thought he needed to be more aggressive on the basketball court so almost every time he came into a game after that I would shout “seven on one” to kind of remind him of a time he played aggressively.

But that wasn’t the proudest moment. This team developed slowly, they lost their first four or five games until they began to come together. Then they played the best team in the league on a Saturday of Super Bowl weekend. They took that team into two overtimes before losing by a single point. A couple of people in the crowd said it was probably the best game they would see all weekend. The kids were disappointed of course but I told them they had just taken the best team in the league to its limit; it was the best game they had ever played and that now they KNEW they could beat anyone. They didn’t lose another game.

The moment came during the championship game. At a crucial point in the fourth quarter on a key inbounds play we called a time out. As the team gathered, my son gave me a glance, like “I’ll take it from here.” I stood back and let him do it. Then with the team circled around him, he designed a play with his finger drawing it on the floor. The team gathered for a cheer before they went back in. (This is an aside. Instead of hollering “Defense” or “Win” or some other thing, my teams always hollered something like “Double Fudge Brownies.” Youth basketball is supposed to be fun to begin with, and secondly it seemed to loosen them up -- they’d go out onto the court laughing and win.)
Anyway, after a “Triple-thick Milkshake!” they ran out onto the court, executed my son’s designed play perfectly and went on to win the championship. After the game one parent told me it was so cool watching him take over the team like that.

I have one regret from that day. The winning coach gets to make a speech. I complimented the other team for a great season and a great game and introduced each of our players with a compliment for each as well. But, I neglected to introduce my son and point out his contribution to the effort. I had the greatest assistant coach a guy could ever have: his own son, and was so proud of him but somehow skipped over him in that speech and have always wished I could go back and make the speech again, this time recognizing the greatest assistant coach ever. It was such a great experience, except for that.

Perhaps this made up for it a little. It is customary for the parents to give some token to the coach after the season. They bought us each gift certificates to a local restaurant. In the card with his, one parent wrote: "Thank you for being such a good role model for our boys."
And, now he is going to be 20.

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Interesting quotations

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeare on Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

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I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

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Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

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As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

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"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

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"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

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A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

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"If they score runs they will win."

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"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

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