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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What We Can Learn From Kids ... A Father's Dream

By Pat Meehan

In my life I have coached 9 different 5th & 6th grade basketball teams. This is a wonderful age to coach young boys because they are at an age in which they are still boys but have developed the competitive nature of men. In all of those 9 years that I coached, there were only 2 years in which I had my son on a team. I never wanted to be a parent coach. I always said that when I had a son, if God granted that, I would not coach the team(s) he was on. However, when my son Jimmy was in the 5th grade, the school booster club found out I was a 5th & 6th grade basketball coach with all winning seasons except for one out of 7 seasons and they asked me to coach.

It was the 1997-1998 season and they came at me hard to coach my son’s team. This was a unique situation because in the entire 5th grade class, there were 23 girls and only 6 boys. I took the job because with a 6 man team, I could not be partial to my son.

I will tell you in advance that we had a winning season. I will also tell you that we played our last game of the season with the undefeated team in the league that had beaten us by 28 points in the 1st game of the season. I promised my kids that if they could beat this team in this final game I would take them all to a college basketball game. Little did they know that I already had the tickets and had already planned to take them regardless of the outcome of the game.

Two weeks prior to the game we planned a strategy to slow the game down, conserve our energy and be aggressive on outside shooting. We also planned a very tight, packed inside, 2-3 zone defense with an occasional swarm tactic on a signal from the bench. These 6 young men delivered on their training for the game and they controlled the pace nearly perfectly. In addition they became very assertive on outside shooting with no fear of missing the shot and hit three of five 3-point attempts. Missing a shot was totally acceptable and fear was taken out of the offensive equation.

Long storey short, in each quarter the score went back and forth and the game was very close. With only 28 seconds left we hit two free throws and gained a 3 point lead. As the other team came down the floor, our defense was in place and with 12 seconds left, a player on the other team shot a 3-point attempt and made the shot and drew a foul from one of our players. Now the game was tied with 12 seconds left and the undefeated team was on the foul line for one shot. The tension mounted and the other team shot an “air ball” and we gained possession.
Our point guard brought the ball quickly down court and passed to a forward who passed to my son, Jimmy, #52, and he took the ball inside and made the layup.

We had beaten the undefeated team of 17 players with our little 6 man team. In the story of David and Goliath, a very similar thing happened. There is no impossible feat in 5th grade basketball or in anything we do in life. We all can rise to the occasion and be the victor if we believe in ourselves with the God given talents we have. It is amazing what lessons we can learn from 6 ten year old boys. It was a day I’ll never forget.

In hard times we get beaten up pretty badly, but with a little help from God and faith in our God given abilities to pull out our best efforts, we too can prevail. It is so amazing what kids can teach us.

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