Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Make good choices.

I spent this past weekend at my nephew's AAU Basketball Tournament. Over the two days his team of 7th graders played four games. Two on Saturday and then a semi-final and championship game on Sunday. I am very proud to report my nephew's team WON the Tournament! It was great to see such outstanding basketball being played with such impressive sportsmanship. I love my nephew very much so I am clearly prejudiced, but I think he is one fantastic ball player and an all around fantastic kid!

As much as my nephew's behavior and sportsmanship impressed me, someone else completely captivated my attention this weekend, Coach Calvin! I have spent many hours watching children's sports. I have witnessed wonderful coaches, terrible coaches, mean coaches, ineffective coaches, sweet coaches, inspiring coaches, knowledgeable coaches, tall coaches, short coaches, etc… You get the point! I can honestly say I have NEVER watched a Coach as personally inspiring as this one! Coach Calvin encompasses every trait I could think of for an outstanding leader and mentor to our children.  If people could be cloned I would order a Coach Calvin up for every Basketball team in America!

Their first game of the weekend was Saturday morning. We played a team wearing white but for the rest of the story I will call them "Blue". From what I observed over the weekend, the Coach of the Blue team is the complete opposite of Coach Calvin. Game one was a close game from the start. The score remained low; 13 to 10 at half time if my memory serves. After half time there were a few points scored.  Parents began to vocalize there was a scoring discrepancy. Both coaches began speaking with the refs over the scoreboard table. Both Coaches were getting heated. Coach Blue was clearly wrong but fighting his case with much resolve. Coach Calvin was clearly right. The next thing I knew Coach Calvin was shaking hands with Coach Blue and the game resumed, score unaltered. Parents and players were outraged with the injustice. I, on the other hand, was amazed. Coach Calvin had showed his boys' one of the best lessons in live, someone has to step up and be the bigger person. Someone has to be the hero, or as my Grandfather would have put it… "Don't get into a pissing match with a skunk".

Our team went on to win that game by only one point (three by our books). Lesson learned, doing the right thing doesn't always get you the win, but it always makes you the winner. We could just have easily lost that game, but thanks to Coach Calvin, his boys didn't have to stand around and watch their coach fight over a score. Their fun time wasn't further wasted on a matter that had little meaning in the big picture of life.

After the game, Coach Calvin gave an extremely inspiring pep talk to his team. He explained how "new math" isn't universally accepted yet but that doesn't mean you shouldn't know how to use it… LOL. He also ended his talk with the same thing he always closes with… "Make good choices". Here's a man who definitely showed he can practice what he preached!

So as life would have it, we earned the privilege of playing the blue team in the championship game as well. Game four. It was clear from the beginning we were going to have some challenging referee decisions =). I have come to believe my personal conspiracy story that the one referee may have been the brother-in-law of Coach Blue, purely speculation of course LOL. This referee made every terrible call in the book including overturning the baseline ref's call from half court! But through this tight game of great game play and terrible reefing – Coach Calvin kept his cool. As the volume of Coach Blue was defining from the bleachers, Coach Calvin's voice rose just high enough to silence the blue thunder. Coach Calvin did not get into an altercation with the ref but he did stick up for his team. He questioned calls with nothing but pure class. He wasn't being pushed around, he wasn't lying down and taking it, he was teaching his boys how to rise above. He was teaching them how to triumph in diversity. He was showing his team how to make lemonade out of lemons.

Coach Calvin's team beat Team Blue again, buy just two points. And the most shocking thing happened in the end…  The ref wanted 0.3 seconds put back on the clock. The coaches, refs and infamous score keepers gnawed on this juicy tidbit for about five agonizing minutes. And then, as if divine intervention took over Coach Blue's body, he waved his team's right to the extra time back on the clock. And it was over. We had won. But most of all, Coach Blue had learned something from Coach Calvin, someone has to be the hero ~ and it feels good.

"Make good choices". Coach Calvin

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