Welcome back to Saturday Morning Coffee. Adding on from last week's introduction, I am going to spend January giving you some info on how I went from being a 7th grader cut from my first sports tryout, to a professional athlete and owner of a small coaching company; the help I had along the way, and how it relates to the mindset of today's athletes, coaches, and fans.
So, I made the move with my mom and older brother to Reno, Nevada in the middle of the school year. I walked into my brand new middle school and my second period English teacher happened to be the basketball coach. He was a young 5'6" guy, with no basketball experience him self. Me being 5"8" as a 12-year-old, with a big afro, probably had something to do with him asking me to come for a private tryout after the school day was over. I strolled down to the gym in my jeans and oversized t-shirt. I was new, I was nervous, and had never played basketball, other than shooting hoops with tragic technique in my dad's front yard in Texas. After missing all but maybe 3 of my 25 shot attempts (2 of which were layups), I was cut.
When I got home, I don't even think I told my mom that I tried out for a team. I did tell my brother though. He said, "Ha! Maybe you should have been ready. At least throw on some gym shorts, or something." He was just joking in passing. Yet, he gave me advice, for a situation that would likely never come again. I ran with it though. It became my excuse. Oh, if I would have had shorts then it would have gone better, I thought. Wrong! I played a bunch of basketball at the local park for the next six months. When basketball tryouts came around the winter of my 8th grade year, I was chosen as an alternate. AKA, I got a little better, but I was cut, again. I'll never forget that moment. I threw away the excuse about the shorts. It clearly wasn't the problem, because in 8th grade, at the same tryout as everyone else, I had shorts. I made the decision that I may never be great at basketball or whatever it is I want to do, but I was going to keep working until I reached the goal: being in a tryout and making a team.
Later in life, I was surprised at how many young coaches and athletes approached me, asking me about how they could solve a similar problem. They weren't aware of my history, but I suppose something about me told them that I had never been cut from a team. My first piece of advice to them was, if you have been cut from a team or a job or an opportunity, and are seeking guidance; avoid picking someone as the first adviser that you think has never been in your situation.
The mind of a person can be fragile. It doesn't have to be a young mind. Young or old, it can be fragile. Tons of people decide they aren't going to play sports because they weren't good enough for someone's team, once. Tons have fled away from trying to make a friend or trying to graduate high school and go to college, all because "there was this one time...". Our duty, as leaders or teammates or observers, isn't to always pick that person for our team or hand that person a solution. That isn't realistic to what life will throw at us. But we can make our duty to help people progress and give them the confidence to keep trying, if they've decided that "that thing" is what they want. Success is only sweet if you've tasted some form of defeat. Dessert always seems to taste better after some fruit and vegetables, not after you've already had pancakes. Don't go out looking for failure, but expect it to be apart of the process in achieving goals.
We will continue next week with how to start setting goals as an athlete and the ways to manage their apprehension.
If you enjoyed, hit the "Like" button (vvv). Feel free to drop any questions you have for January's topic in the comments section below. Also welcome are sport specific topics you would like to have discussed in February.
- Have a blessed week.
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