Good Coach/Bad Father.


It’s possible I’m not going to win the Father of the Year Award anytime soon.

Or ever.

Actually it’s not just possible, it’s pretty much a mortal lock.

It’s not because I call my daughter “The Evil Spawn” in a moderately well-read blog (although that certainly doesn’t help my cause).

It’s because I coach her basketball team.I've Never Read This Book, But I Need To.

One would think this would put me in the finals for the Father of the Year competition.

Actually coaching 3rd grade girls in anything should at least get me in the Fast Past line to Heaven (this would be a Walt Disney World/Religious reference… so it’s painfully obvious I’m so not a good person).

I’m trying to do the right thing.  I spend time with the Spawn.  I’ve taught her how to dribble.  I’ve taught her how to shoot.  She’s even scored several baskets (always followed by a slightly creepy celebratory dance she evidently learned from her mother’s side of the family).

I don’t mean to brag, but we’ve won most of our games (4-1 baby!!!).

It seems to me things are going pretty well.

Except there’s one small problem.

Or maybe it’s a big problem.  I’m really not fit to decide at this point.

When I coach her, I only see her mistakes.

And there are lots of them.

Again, I’m not really fit to decide this either (in fact, I really shouldn’t be around children).

I could write an entire blog about her inability to fight through a screen or be in good rebounding position, but then I would really look like an idiot (if you’ve never coached basketball please disregard this sentence as it probably makes absolute no sense… other than I’m an idiot part).

I expect her to play basketball like she’s taking a spelling test (stay with me… I have a point here).  I expect her to play an entire game and not make any mistakes.  None.  Zip.  Nadda.  And whatever the Spanish word for Zero is.

In my mind she should get everything correct just like I want her to do on a spelling test (I didn’t say it was a good point, I just said I had a point).

On the other hand, I recognize when her teammates make mistakes.  And that’s okay because they are trying.

As long as they try and do their best, what more can I ask?

Her?  Different story.

I’m not sure, but this may be a little something I like to call a “Double-Standard”.

By now, you are probably on board with my theory about not winning Father of the Year.

That’s okay because you would be right.  And just so my readers feel good about themselves, I’m about to reinforce this theory.

At our last game, we started the 4th quarter down by 6 points.  That’s not a big deficit unless you’ve seen 3rd grade girls play basketball.  Then you would realize it’s like being behind by 427 points.

Occasionally, our team struggles with “scoring” (as all 3rd graders do).

Basically the game was over.

But as luck would have it, our team battled back (in spite of my daughter… again, I only see her mistakes… I may have some issues and be in dire need of counseling).

With 37 seconds left we were down by 2 points, but we got the ball back.

I called a timeout.

This was the perfect opportunity to put all of my years of coaching knowledge to work.

I could diagram a play and we would win the game.

Too bad the girls were so excited they wanted to talk instead of listen.  Turns out during a timeout with 3rd grade girls, everybody has a story.  Or they are thirsty.  Or they need their shoes tied.  Or ponytails fixed.  Or they want to wave at mom and dad.  Or they need to use the restroom (who can’t hold it for 37 seconds???).

They want to do anything but listen to my ingenious explanation of the play that will win the game.

But this didn’t stop me.  I set up a play (or at least some controlled mayhem…). 

There were two girls I was comfortable taking the last shot.  Both are not related to me (the Evil Spawn is so writing a paper in high school titled “Bad Dad”). 

So what happens?

The play doesn’t work (who’s surprised?… not me).

But something odd happened.

The Evil Spawn evidently stay calmed and used her head (maybe we aren’t related???).

The Spawn scored to tie the game and send it to overtime (which we win!!!).

The crowd goes crazy.

A creepy dance ensues.

And I don’t remember any of it.

I didn’t even know she hit the last shot.  I have no recollection of it.  I thought another girl made the basket.

I was so focused on her not making a mistake.

It was only after the game when I realized she did something wonderful.  It occurred to me when other parents (no doubt better people than me) where high-fiving and congratulating her on the big shot at the buzzer.

Oh, it gets worse.

I not only missed the game-tying shot, I missed all of the shots she made.

Evidently, she was our leading scorer.  I had no idea.

I guess I don’t remember anything.  Except her mistakes.

 

I haven’t read the book “Good Dad/Bad Dad” (pictured above), but I probably should.

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10 Years Ago: I Was Younger and an Idiot.


A single meeting can drag on for hours.  Days last forever.  And weeks seem like they will never end.

How is it that a decade can fly by so quickly?

By my estimation decades are about 10 years long (feel free to double-check my math).  That means the last ten years accounts for approximately 1/8 of my life (if all goes well).

I’m starting to get the feeling that I’m living on borrowed time (my life is half over… I hope it wasn’t the good half).Time Flies.

Before the inevitable happens (I’m crossing my fingers that my Evil Spawn doesn’t put me in a nursing home… or a crate), I want to acknowledge how things have changed for me since the good old days (the year 2000).

Back then:

I was a punk teacher who thought I had all the answers.  Now I’m a punk school administrator who realizes that I don’t have any answers (and barely know all of the questions).

I coached a high school varsity boys basketball team.  Now, I coach 3rd and 4th grade girls.

In 2000, I didn’t own my house, truck, a suit, or have any investments.

I believed athletes were honest (steroids), hard-working, and good people (sorry Tiger, but I’m still heart broken).

I trusted politicians.

Buddy the Dog didn’t rule my house (that I didn’t own).

I was a year away from meeting the Evil Spawn.

And hearing my wife curse like a sailor during childbirth.

I didn’t have a Master’s or Specialist’s Degree.

I had never been to Florida, Texas, California, Colorado or basically anywhere.  Mainly because I had never been on an airplane, in a cab, or on a train.

I didn’t have a passport.

Or a cell phone.

We had a computer (that was huge), but it was slower than the phone I now carry around in my pocket.

I used to read the newspaper and look forward to the mail arriving.

Google, Twitter, Posterous, and thousands of other technology things were yet to be discovered.

I was newly-married (and yet my wife hasn’t aged a day in the last 10 years… yes, she reads the blog).

I hadn’t written a blog, read a blog, or heard of a blog.

My big concern back then was Y2K, not the Swine Flu.

Gas was cheap, but I never thought about it.

I spent my evenings watching TV, not working on a laptop.

I had a credit card, but no money to pay it off (because every cent went to student loans).

Any maybe the biggest thing… in 2000 I had absolutely no concept of time.  I didn’t think about the future.  I didn’t think about anything. 

Oh, how life has changed.  So quickly, in such a short time.

It makes me wonder what I’m about to face in the next decade.  What we are all going to face.

In the world.  At school.  In our personal lives.

For me, the next 10 years means I will celebrate my 50th birthday (how is that possible?), my 25th anniversary (what was she thinking?), and my daughter’s high school graduation.

My biggest hope for the next decade is it goes a little slower than the last one.

And I don’t end it in a crate.


Note from wife… Newly married?  We got married in 1995.  A half a decade prior to 2000.  Does that still qualify as “newly married”?

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Take My Advice; If a Coach Throws a Basketball at Your Head, Duck.


Duck!!!I was reminded this week of an incident that happened to me when I was attempting to play high school basketball (attempting is the key word to focus on here).

This story usually pops into my head when adults say, “Kids sure have changed since we were in school.”

I have my answer to that, but first you have to sit through my sad little story.

During my high school basketball career (brief mind you, based on playing time), I was every coach’s dream. A complete player. In my mind, I had all the tools to be great.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t dribble, pass, shoot and I was slow, couldn’t jump, and certainly didn’t rebound. I tried rebounding once. Didn’t like it, so I chose to focus on other aspects of the game at which I was equally as bad.

In my defense, I was always on time for practice and games. I don’t mean to brag, but I was even early on several occasions.

Although as I look back, the coach was probably hoping that I would be late or better yet, not show up at all.

One day in practice, I was playing point guard (playing is probably too strong of a word). Coach told me to run a play and I did my best.

Turns out Coach wasn’t looking for “my best”, he was actually hoping that I could run the play correctly.

He stood underneath the basket holding a ball on his hip. I believe he was wearing those really short gray coaching shorts with the big elastic waistband. Cool at the time, but disturbing today.

As I recall the sequence of events went something like this; Coach calls the play, I run the play incorrectly, Coach yells “Dammit”, I turn my back to him, he wings the basketball at my head trying to knock some sense and hopefully some talent into me.

That is a lot of information in one paragraph, so let’s break down the details.

For years I thought my first name was “Dammit”. I say this because when Coach yelled, that word always preceded my last name.

I never even thought about it at the time, and I certainly never ran home and told my parents. Wouldn’t want Coach any madder than he usually was at me (my advice to kids…you never poke the angry bear with a stick).

Well on that particular day, I decided to take a stand. In retrospect, not the best idea I ever had. I probably wasn’t thinking straight; no doubt from the blow to the head from a basketball zooming at me at 112 miles per hour.

But in the infinite wisdom of a teenager, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Surely, Coach would stop me and apologize. Nope.

Evidently, he also picked that particular day to take a stand. And his stand was “don’t let the door hit you in the behind on the way out of the gym.”

I found myself out in the parking lot in my practice clothes. No choice but to walk home and get some sympathy from the parents.

Another in an unfortunate series of bad ideas.

As I made my way to the house, my dad was mowing the yard. My gut feeling was my day was just about to get worse.

And for the first time on that day, I was right.

He stopped the mower (I later learned that dads don’t like to stop the mower… I wish I had known that little nugget of information before I left practice).

To make a long story short, he wanted to know why I was home. I attempted to tell my sad story about Coach, the blow to the head, and then I was going to ask if my legal name on the birth certificate was “Dammit.”

Turns out he not only didn’t he like stopping the mower, but he didn’t care for the story either. In fact, he didn’t even let me finish.

He cut me off about halfway through and said, “I don’t care what happened, go back to practice and apologize to Coach and see if he will take you back.”

Not exactly the response I was looking for.

There is nothing sadder then a teenage boy schlepping home from quitting practice, except that same boy crawling back to practice 15 minutes later.

I went back. Coach shook his head in disgust (which really didn’t bother me because I had seen that look about 1,216 times before).

I don’t remember exactly what he said but it was something like, “Dammit, you can’t even quit right. Get back in here.”

That was it. I don’t think it was ever spoken about again; at home or with Coach.

No lawyers, no meeting with the Principal, no phone call to the Superintendent, and no special School Board Meeting.

What Coach did wasn’t right, but I was no worse for the wear. I grew up in a world where teachers and coaches were to be respected and sometimes a little feared.

I learned a lot that day that continues to apply to my life.

Run the play right, don’t turn your back; excuses are just that… excuses, dad’s don’t like to be interrupted when mowing, and most of all if someone throws a ball at your head… duck.

So I don’t think kids have changed. Parents have.

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