Monday, November 11, 2013

Coach Mike's newest challenge

Wish me luck.

Wait ... let's amend that ...

Wish me lots and lots and LOTS of luck.

My amazing life journey has led to my first head-coaching position. I am the girls basketball coach at Metrolina Regional Scholars Academy, a K-8 Charlotte public charter school for "highly gifted students." (Those are their words, not mine, but I have found the kids to be incredibly intelligent and motivated so far.)

Our first game is tomorrow -- Tuesday, Nov. 12. Here's hoping the Eagles are ready to fly!

Some might remember that I have been an assistant coach over the years. Before this, however, the only team I had run was my son's co-ed rec-league squad back when he was 10 -- and one of our girls showed up to play in ballet slippers. Nuff said.

Coaching the Eagles has been an interesting experience so far. Our tryouts were Oct. 29 and I chose the 10-girl team that evening. The next day, I got an email from the mother of the only returning all-conference player, saying her daughter had to quit to participate in Mock Trial competition. Such is life at a school for highly gifted students.

That leaves us with nine girls. It's supposed to be a 7th/8th grade team but we had to open it up to younger girls to fill the roster. Here is our breakdown:

Two 8th-graders, one of whom is a soccer player trying hoops for the first time; two 7th-graders; four 6th-graders; one 5th-grader.

We might be small in numbers and experience ... but we also are small in stature. Our tallest players are in the 5-6 range. I don't know for sure because I'm afraid to measure them for fear of learning the truth.

But I will say this: These girls are tough and smart and coachable and fun, and there is some talent. Our captains are good leaders, and some of the younger girls really have a chance to be nice players.

From what the older girls have told me about the conference, I'm guessing we will be overmatched by a team or two and will have to scramble like crazy to win some games. So scramble we will.

Of course, winning and losing isn't what's most important at this level. I doubt I'll be fired based on game results, and I'm pretty sure the girls won't be scarred for life no matter what the record is.

Still ...

There will be a scoreboard in every gym. The parents will be looking at it, as will the girls, as will Coach Mike. The final scores will be recorded, standings will be updated, and there will be a conference tournament at season's end. A champion will be crowned.

So yes, it is competition, and everyone involved will be keeping track. Which is as it should be.

Long-term, I'm not sure where this adventure of mine is going to take me. But I am enjoying the teaching and team-building and striving for common goals.

And then there's this: Those who know me well know that I am an extremely organized, prepared guy -- OK, sometimes the word folks use is "anal" -- and I do like being in control.

Well, I got what I asked for.

So, again, wish me luck.

And, given what's happened to several high-profile, 50-something-year-old coaches recently, wish me good heart health, too.


  1. Just memorize some of Norman Dale's best lines from Hoosiers and you'll be fine.

    1. Well, sure, but Jimmy Chitwood ain't steppin' through that door to score off the "picket fence" any time soon!

  2. Bethany and Colin spent years on the losingest team in the league, but they loved that team and that coach. He was dedicated and the kids learned a lot, not just about basketball. Winning is nice, but it's not everything. Good luck!

    1. Jeesh ... I hope I didn't make it sound like we were gonna be the losingest team!

      I do get your message, though. We are having fun and we are learning a ton. And the coach might be learning the most of all.

    2. Didn't mean to imply that! Just pointing out that if you don't win 'em all, it doesn't mean you're not doing a good job.

  3. We still have a 1993 videotape of a game in which our 8th grade daughter and several of the other starters were on the bench in a blow-out game. Somebody, ahem, decided to do a bit of squirting her water bottle at her friend sitting next to her. Then she squirted back. Then they squirted on down the line. All while giggling, then putting on a straight face, then cheering on the girls actually playing.....and yes, all when the coach wasn't looking. Good times and sweet memories. Oh, they were serious when it counted, but they knew how to have fun, too. I think you will really enjoy the experience! 20 years later, my daughter doesn't remember how well their team did in the win/loss column, but she sure does remember the coach and her friends and the overall experience. Have fun! :)

    1. Oh stop it, Belle ... all those memories of my kids playing now. You trying to make me cry?