SPidge Tales

Sunday, October 30, 2005

I Begin Basketball Coaching!

This week I begin coaching the 5th & 6th grade B basketball team. Two things immediately come to mind. (1) Every time I am told I am coaching the B squad, I always think of the movie Van Wilder, where Van raises money for tuition with "topless tutors." He hires the good looking girls at the strip club to help guys study, for a fee, of course. This source of income stops when the strip club owner confronts Van, bat in hand, surrounding by a bunch of nasty, skanky looking 40-year olds. Van says that the strip club owner "got tired of using his 'B' squad." So, yes, I am comparing coaching the 5th & 6th grade boys (mostly, I assume, 5th graders) to the ugly strippers in Van Wilder. (2) I worry about what the hell I am going to do during practices, considering that I have not been involved in organized basketball in 6 years, before remembering the awful experiencing of my high school basketball playing days and realizing that I am best off going in the exact opposite direction when I coach.

I will not name my coach from high school since it's not nice to talk about people (even though, I guess that is exactly what I am doing). I don't think anyone from high school reads my blog, so no one should know who I am talking about, anyways. He was the type of coach who, if we lost a road game, it had to be library quiet on the busride back home, and we had to act sad. We would get screamed at in the locker room, with F-words and everything, questioning our manhood, etc., if we dared lose a game. Of course, we were losing on purpose. The other team is never better, and can never just have a better game than us. At home games, the leftover pizza, hot dogs, soda, and other food from the concession stand would be brought into the locker room for us to eat. We weren't allowed to touch it until after Coach's post-game spiel. One game, after we lost, Coach decided, while screaming at us, to knock all of the food off the table. From that point on, we would hide the food behind the lockers after losses.

I might have been able to put up with this, except for his added on personal vendetta against me. I was his great project, great hope, that never fulfilled the promise he expected. I was in his 9th grade math class in 8th grade because I was one of the smart kids. I was tall for my age; 5'11" (I would eventually grow to reach my current 6'3"). He was coaching the JV team at the time. He decided that I would be his great project; he would mold me into a great player. So, he made me the first 8th grader in school history (and still, as far as I know, the only) to play JV.

He was hard on me, but I thought it was because I thought he was just pushing me. He used me as an example of what to do when someone goes over your back for a rebound by making me go over his back, then elbowing me and knocking the wind out of me. Even in class, he would pick on me. He used to send me down to the discipline office after answering his phone, then after finding out I wasn't really in trouble, I would come back to find my desk out in the hallway and myself locked out. But, I developed pretty well as a basketball player. I didn't do that well in 8th grade playing with 9th and 10th graders, but I got experience, and by 10th grade I was the star on JV, averaging 16 points per game. However, the trouble started in 11th grade.

I liked basketball, but baseball was my favorite sport. By this point Coach was coaching the varsity team, and expected big things from me. He was always pushing me to go to summer basketball camps and play AAU ball. He didn't like the fact that basketball was just something I did for fun in the winter, and I would rather just play baseball in the summer. During the season, when I missed one practice because I was attending a school field trip to New York City, he benched me for the next game. Which means I played about 2 minutes less than I normally did. I understand not starting...I was anywhere from the 5th to 7th best player on the team, but he barely played me because I didn't kiss his ass and act like basketball was my favorite thing in the world.

Right before summer vacation after junior year, I knew that senior year basketball would not be any better. Coach decided to give me a talk, suggested I do basketball camp in the summer, then maybe I could have a good season as a senior, and then "maybe the girls would start noticing me." That's a really nice thing to say to a guy who is very self conscious around girls. Besides, maybe I didn't have a girlfriend, but I had good female friends, and I wouldn't want girls to like me for being good at a sport or something superficial, I'd want them to like me for who I am (in hindsight, yeah, I'd rather be liked on a romantic level for who I am than for superficial reasons; but I'd rather be liked for superficial reasons than not be liked at all, which is the way it is--but that's a story for another day).

Senior year, he decided to make a guy who had quit school, and who would quit school again the day after the season ended, co-captain over me since I decided to relax the week between the end of football season and the start of basketball practice, instead of going to his open gym sessions. I was a starter now, got to play a lot and was doing pretty well. I even played one game when I had the flu. After spraining my ankle, the team needed me, so instead of healing up, I put an air cast on and played. I had a bad game, and instead of saying, "thanks for giving your best when you're not full strength, Sean," he reamed me out, and yelled and swore at me. And, not in the locker room, mind you, but during a time-out, in front of everybody in the stands.

Anyways, I don't know what the point of this rant is. All I know is that I will not coach like him. I will not yell and scream and swear at my players. I will make sure that, above all else, they have fun.


Blogger Tim Simard said...

That story made me angry. That guys sounds like the biggest asshole in the world. He was probably a terrible player in high school and decided to take it out on you. Fuck him. There are two people I truly hate in this world. Math teachers and coaches. They can all go to hell. But I have hope for you. Have a fun team and don't turn into an asshole. If you need to throw a chair or something because of a bad ref call, that's cool. Just don't throw it at your players. Dammit, you got me all fired up...

7:05 PM  

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