Anatomy of a Parent

During the final week of classes during the fall semester this year, our basketball team was scheduled to play at Fort Hays State on a Wednesday night. On Monday night, the first round of two or three snow storms hit the Midwest. We left Monday evening and barely crept into Hays, Kan. The weather had improved a little Wednesday night, but the roads were still icy, snow packed and dangerous, with drifting snow. Just as our game began, I looked in the stands. We had one, lone fan. It was Abby Henry’s father, John. He had driven all day from Des Moines, Iowa, and made it to Hays just before tip-off. John is one very dedicated father and fan. Continue reading

The Technical Foul

Usually when I write this blog, I will write down five or six sentences that remind me of stories I want to tell in the blog. I decided to write about technical fouls this week. As I wrote my notes, I forced myself to stop at 10 sentences. This could be lengthy.

Coaches and athletes are often misunderstood when the near-fatal punishment of a technical four or ejection is handed out. During my less than impressive high school football career, I was ejected from a junior varsity football game at Hebron, Neb.. It was a total misunderstanding. As time ran out in the game, the Hebron defensive players piled on our 95-pound quarterback. At an intimidating 135 pounds, I showed my mean attitude by saying “Lay off you big, ugly brutes!” Unfortunately, I interrupted the referee, who was saying basically the same thing. He thought I called him a “big, ugly, brute,” and was immediately tossed from the game. I never did convince my coaches I was faultless in this major event in my high school athletic career. Continue reading

Emotions of the Final Seconds

This past Saturday, with the score tied at 65, Abby Henry grabbed a rebound with eight seconds showing on the clock. She dribbled into the lane to draw the defense toward her; then threw the ball to Shelly Martin, who had sprinted to the right wing. Shelly’s three-pointer snuggled into the net just as the buzzer went off. That one shot made everything seem so much better in Maryville at Monday’s practice. The whole emotional atmosphere probably wasn’t as positive in Kirksville, even though they had out-played the Bearcats through much of the game. That one shot forced all that positive and negative emotion.

I asked Shelly after the game if she had ever hit a buzzer beater before. To my surprise, she said it had happened before. As my career in basketball moves into its fifth decade, I have only experienced buzzer beaters, good or bad, probably no more than a dozen times. Continue reading

The Start of the Second Half

With the second semester beginning, it’s time for our athletes to get back in the routine. As a player, you always enjoy Christmas break. Even though our athletes may have only had five full days off, they enjoy the time away from class.

It can be difficult going to four classes in a day, then have a three-hour practice, then study for a quiz or exam and then doing it all over again the next day. It is nice for our players to get some mid-season rest and relaxation time. Christmas break is a time to grow closer to your teammates, especially in a town that is chopped in half over the holiday break. Continue reading

Expectations

I usually have very little trouble finding topics for this blog. Things just happen or memories kick in and then it’s a blog. However, this blog was inspired entirely by my assistant coach, Lori Hopkins. Coach Hopkins is the master organizer for our program. She makes sure everything runs smoothly. Sometimes, outside forces prevent that smooth operation. Those outside forces are usually found in the person of our opponents. Continue reading

Christmas and College Basketball

Every family has Christmas traditions. I always remember as a kid going to my grandparents for Christmas Day Dinner, which was served promptly at noon. Sure there was plenty of turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, but what I remember the most is the chocolate “wooden” shoes that my Grandmother had bought from a specialty store. The chocolates were imported from Belgium. When I became an adult with my own family, I thought I would carry on the tradition, but I could never find that chocolate. My basketball team once traveled to Belgium on a pre-Christmas trip, and I still couldn’t find that specialty.

When I became a basketball coach 26 years ago, I quickly learned that each Christmas often was very unique. Sometimes, we had time to spend with family. Sometimes, the team traveled up to Christmas or right after Christmas, and normal traditions were put aside. Continue reading