The Secret Code

I grew up in a little farming community in southeast Nebraska.  My class in school had eight students through most of my elementary days.  Seven of those eight students were boys.  We were kind-of a scrawny bunch.  None of the seven males were ever going to play major college football or become professional wrestlers.  We had to bond together to avoid the bulling from the older boys.

Despite our lack of muscular power, I had a neat childhood with my buddies.  We had club houses, tree houses, secret basement rooms (now called man-caves), and a great network to avoid the bullies.  Once, we attempted to build a log cabin in Clatonia Crick (not Creek).  We weren’t great architects, but the walls were starting to take shape.  The older boys in Clatonia, my tiny hometown, got suspicious because we were never around during those warm, summer afternoons.

There were times they tried to follow us, so we had to come up with a homemade security system.  We would put a look-out with a hammer by a dead, hollow tree.  If the bullies approached, the look-out was to give three hits on the tree.  It sounded like a drum beat.  The look-out would run and hide and we would stop what we were doing and duck out of sight, too.

It worked great, except the look-out, some younger kid tagging along, would get mixed up.  I think it was one beat for “I have to go to the bathroom,” and two beats for “Its supper time.”  There were times we weren’t sure if our look-out was finding a bush to do his business, leaving for a meal, or giving us a heads-up for the big, bad bullies.  It was a great system until a five-inch rain flooded all our progress and we took up baseball.

Things aren’t all that much different today.  When I arrive at Northwest every morning, I have to type in my user name and password just to check my email messages.  That’s not bad, except we have to change our password every four months.  I keep the password under my “mouse” but that hardly seems very secure.

If I could just keep one password for everything, it would be great.  I could check the balance on my checking account, pay my credit card bills, or check the new books in my book club membership.  That’s not how it works, though.  If I need a user name other than at Northwest, “gstein,” my user name at Northwest never works.  Someone is already using it.

There are some places where you can pick a simple password with four characters, which would be easy to remember.  However, the next account demands more than six characters.  A few limit you to less than 10.  Others make you use capitol letters, small letters, and numbers all in the same password.  It’s so confusing; sometimes I forget my middle name, which is important in some accounts.

If you forget your user name or password, they ask you a security question.  The most popular is your mother’s maiden name.  My biological mother’s maiden name was Schachenmeyer, although I’m still not sure if that’s how it’s spelled.  Maybe they want my step-mother’s maiden name, but I’m not sure if it’s Bush or Van Bush.  I can’t tell you how many times I thrown up my hands and wished for that hollow tree in Clatonia Crik.

That leads me to how this all affects my ability to coach basketball.  Last week had to be the best example of how the secret code is used by NCAA, our athletic governing body.  I received an email asking me to read a potential rule change.  They wanted teams to try the 10-second, backcourt count in exhibition games.  In women’s basketball, the players can spend as long as they want in backcourt with no punishment.

I clicked on the link that has the rules change.  Did the potential, new rule pop up?  No way, first I had to sign into my NCAA account.  I didn’t even know I had an NCAA account.  I went through all the protocol and I guessed on my user name and password.  Of course, it was wrong.  Then I clicked on the ever present icon, “Forgot your password?”  I clicked yes and waited for an email on my password.  It never came.  The problem was I had never registered with the NCAA, so I didn’t have a password.

No problem, I pretty sure I can guess what they wanted to experiment with this preseason.  The debate has always been in basketball, do women or men get it right with the backcourt rule.  The women’s argument is there is a shot clock, so why worry about 10 seconds in backcourt.  It also provides for unusual strategy at the end of close games.

Men’s basketball gives the argument that with no 10 second count in backcourt, your defense won’t be rewarded for applying pressure on the entire court.  If you don’t have the 10 second count, the offense doesn’t have to hurry and the defense is penalized.

The third argument is why are men’s and women’s rules different?  Things are getting closer.  This year, the women’s three-point line will move back to match the men’s three point line.  Right now, the major differences are the backcourt count, the five second count on a closely guarded dribbler, and the shot clock.  Men have a shot clock of 35 seconds and the women are at 30 seconds.

I just did a lot of explaining without a password.  I hope I didn’t screw it up.  The NCAA is our boss, but there are many other areas of coaching that require secret codes.  Recruiting is the prime example.

Recruiting services claim to offer great evaluations on potential recruits.  Most of them can be found on the internet.  Guess what?  You have to register and provide a password.  This is irritating.  The recruiting service offers a free link for college coaches; believe me, it’s not free to the athletes.  However, for some reason, I have to jump through registration and password hoops just to view the free recruiting evaluations.

The Kansas City Star is another example of those that expect secrecy by giving its paying readership access through a secret code.  I can find the Kansas City Star on-line easy enough.  Without paying a dime, I can get most of the stories found in the newspaper.  However, for a small monthly fee, I can be given a user name and password so the exact form of the newspaper appears on my screen.  How can I deny the paper the fee just to get my secret codes?

I think this all started when I was a kid in the 1950’s.  I couldn’t resist joining up with exclusive groups with secrets.  Walt Disney was just hitting the airwaves with his daily Mickey Mouse Club.  Remember the opening song, “Who’s the leader of the band that made for you and me?”  Even if the answer was a mouse, I had to join the band.  Somewhere in my storage trunks at home, you can find my original Mickey Mouse Club Membership Card and the original mouse ears.  It may not be as secret as the Masons, but it probably led to my obsession of secret groups with secret codes.

Bang that hollow tree, give me the secret handshake, let me into the tree house for club members only, just don’t ask me to remember a password.

This entry was posted in Women's Basketball by Gene Steinmeyer. Bookmark the permalink.
Gene Steinmeyer

About Gene Steinmeyer

Gene Steinmeyer coached the Northwest Missouri State women’s basketball team for 13 seasons before retiring after 26 years as a collegiate head coach after the 2011-12 season. He retired as the second winningest women’s basketball coach at Northwest as his 2010-11 team won both the MIAA Regular Season and Tournament Championship advancing to the NCAA National Semifinals one game shy of the national championship game.