‘hey, coach. can you show me how to improve my shot?’
it doesn’t feel that long ago. wasn’t it just yesterday that i was the skinny teenage boy playing basketball trying to improve my game?
5-6 hours a day of basketball. as many hours on the weekend as i could get gym time. when the gym was closed i’d just roll out my portable net and shoot for hours on my street.
our neighbors must have come to hate the sound of the bouncing ball.
i lived, breathed, slept, ate, dreamed basketball. dozens and dozens of pictures and posters lined my walls. i awoke to motivational quotes said by my favorite players written on my ceiling and went to bed repeating them to myself, drilling them deep into my subconscious.
my friends thought i was obsessive. i was. i was determined to make it to the next level.
i really miss being a gym rat.
i’m a coach now. started coaching junior varsity basketball at the local high school. the team is made up mostly of kid’s from the square and mulgrave park, the poorer, historically black (there’s more diversity today) public housing communities. that’s just to say that these kids can ball! most of them play for the school and one or two other club teams.
most of these kids live, breathe, sleep, eat, dream basketball just like i used to.
being around them transports me back 15 years.
how i came to be coaching was so random it had to be a divine thing. one of the kid’s from the square approached me at my gym to help him train for his upcoming senior year. he wanted to end his high school career going out on top. in order to do that he knew he needed to get better.
i ran his ass off on the court and laid waste to him in the weight room. i bet he was regretting ever asking me to help him by the end. but he got stronger, quicker, smarter on the court and we fixed his jump shot. not bad for just a couple of months.
during one of our sessions in the weight room, a guy in my gym asked me what i was doing. i told him i was training the kid for the upcoming high school basketball season. he himself was had just become a coach at the same high school my young protegé attended.
i don’t believe in those.
‘you like coaching?’ he asked me and before i could answer, ’cause i need some help coaching this year..’
and a coaching career begins.
i never thought i’d like let alone want to coach basketball. maybe it’s because i gave my coaches such a hard time when i was a young, cocky kid, who thought he knew all there was to know about basketball. i know i’d never have wanted to coach me.
but these kids are great. they’re focused, hungry and suck up everything i say like sponges. they call me ‘coach’ and ‘sir’ and are eager students of the game.
so far so good.
we played our first game last week and won!
i’m 1-0 as a high school basketball coach. if only my 17-year-old self could see me now.