We have just completed the 2012 representative basketball season (http://www.sportingpulse.com/assoc_page.cgi?c=1-3911-0-0-0) and I was lucky enough to coach the Spectres Girls U18/4 (http://www.facebook.com/NunawadingSpectres) team this year. We had a good season and ended up finishing 3rd in a tight tussle in the finals.
The team was wonderful and it was a genuine privilege to be their coach. The team had an amazing attitude and was extremely well focused when they needed to be (although they clearly felt they didn't need to be at training unless we had Scott taking the session ;-).
I am including this in my blog because I will probably draw parallels between sport and everything else in other blog entries. I think there is significant overlap in areas like commitment, dedication, focus, teamwork, practice and purpose.
I also think it is one of those areas where you can learn so much about how to improve by watching young people improving themselves. I know that as the coach and as an adult I am supposed to be the one doing the teaching. However, just as I believe that my own kids have taught me far more than I have ever taught them, I received more from this basketball team than I contributed.
The thing that impressed me most about this group was their attitude. They were determined to play good basketball and to beat good teams. Even when they made the grand final in the Eltham tournament at the start of the season, they knew that every other team was going to improve so they needed to do so too.
For the Spectres tournament mid-season we entered into a higher grading and made the grand final for that one too. We lost by 6 points to a South Australian Division 1 team in the grand final which was a fantastic effort.
Five games into the season we were outside the top 5 and in danger of missing the finals. The team's dedication and commitment meant that we won 12 of the remaining 13 games (and the one loss was only by 2 points) to finish on 15-3. No team beat us twice. In fact, every team that did get a win against us found that we learnt and adjusted for the next encounter and we won the rematch. It was inspiring to watch the team apply themselves and combine playing hard with playing smart.
One of the things that I really appreciated was that the players were happy to let everyone see that the games meant something to them. The stereotype of teenagers is that they either don't care much about things or don't want to admit that they do. These girls displayed none of that and made it clear to everyone (including each-other) that this was important and they wanted to do their best.
We were all disappointed when we lost the preliminary final by 5 points to a very strong Werribee team. However, it was impossible to be upset because we played the game according to what we decided we needed to do and gave it 100%. Perhaps another day it might have been enough to win the game but on that day Werribee were worthy winners.
We had qualified into our division in the middle of the field. The dedication and team spirit of the players meant that we finished higher than many teams ranked above us. We had only one other 4's team in our division and played mostly against other clubs 1's and 2's teams but still managed a really successful season.
Most of all though, the season was a lot of fun. To draw this back to more general principles, the reasons that it was so enjoyable were:
- we had a clear commitment to achieving goals
- we were committed to each other and prepared to do the hard work to fulfil our role
- we were prepared to show that the team's success was important to us