The Coach That Couldn't Steal My Passion

The Coach That Couldn't Steal My Passion

An Open Letter to the coach that made me a better player and ultimately a better man.
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I recently read a letter about a coach that killed the passion of a young basketball player. Although I empathize with her because I have experienced many of the same feelings, I did feel the need to respond. A coach should never be the reason why you lose your passion for something. A passion for something comes from within and no one should be able to take that away you. I hope that one day this passion she once had comes back and I think it will.

If you choose to participate in sports during elementary school, middle school, High School, and beyond you are going to run into coaches that you do not like. Unfortunately it happens. However, if you truly have a passion for the sport you find a way to push and power through it. If the coach says “You could go to any other school and start varsity, but you just can’t play for me” it’s your responsibility to ask why? Have a conversation with the coach to see if maybe there is something that you could be working on to get into that starting lineup. When your number is called you go in and do the best you can because, although you don’t like the coach and believe in his philosophy, you owe it to your teammates, to your school, and to yourself to do your best. I am not saying that the person who wrote the original article did not do their best or did not try to have a conversation with their coach. But I am saying that different coaches reach different players and we do not know the whole story.

As a coach myself her article made me think about the impact that I am trying to make on our players but also on the impact my coaches had on me.

In a world where we tend to “give everyone a trophy” I am writing this letter to the coach who pushed me every day, who challenged me mentally, who scolded me at times, but who ultimately made me a better man years later. To this day he is still a mentor of mine and my “coach”.

Growing up I always spent hours upon hours in my driveway working to get better. I too had a desire and a passion to get better every day. You could say I eat, drank, and breathed basketball. Going into high school I was not as mature as most of my friends so when they got moved up to JV as freshmen I was angry, frustrated, upset, jealous, and doubted my ability as a basketball player. That year probably saved my basketball career.

The coach for the freshmen team was intense. I had played for him before in AAU and middle school but this was different. When I came to the first practice he knew I was upset I wasn’t playing JV so he asked me a simple question that I will never forget, “You have two options, complain and feel sorry for yourself, or suck it up and do something about it. Which one are you going to do?” As a former point guard himself he was especially intense on me because I too was a point guard. If plays were ran incorrectly, it was my fault. If we didn’t know what defense we were in, my fault. If I made a bad read, my fault. Trust me, it frustrated the heck out of me. All the while, my group of close friends were playing JV and soaking in all the praise of playing “up”.

The road got even tougher when we traveled to Bloomington North for our first game of the season and to my surprise, I am not even in the starting lineup of the freshmen team! I remember walking out on to floor with tears in my eyes because I felt like I was seeing all my hard work going down the drain. However, when my number was called I went in and played hard like I always did. I Played my minutes in the “B” game and continued to work hard in practice, the weight room, and after hours.

Day by day, practice by practice, game by game, I started noticing improvement because of how hard he was pushing me. He knew what my weaknesses were and he exposed them like other coaches wouldn’t. By the end of that season not only was I starting at point guard but I was also playing some small minutes with the JV. I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason and I believe that had I not spent that season with the freshmen coach I would never be the person I am today let alone letter three times on the varsity team. He was hard on me, yes, but he taught me lessons that went far beyond the basketball court.

Thank you to the coach that couldn’t kill my passion, because he fueled it.

Cover Image Credit: Wiki Media

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To All Student-Athletes Beginning Their Respective Seasons, Remember Why You Play

You are going to get tired. You are going to get worn out...

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Dear athlete,

The season is by far the most exciting time of the year. Big plays, good memories, traveling new places, and winning championships... But yet another promise is that season is also exhausting.

You are going to get tired. You are going to get worn out...

But remember that this season of your life doesn't last forever. Remind yourself why you play.

You play this sport because you love the game. You love the competition, you love your teammates and the friendships that you've formed, you love the lessons you learn aside from the physical aspect.

So each day, continue to choose the game.

It's not easy. But if it was, everyone would do it. But discomfort is where progress happens.

Quit dreading practices, quit wishing for rain, quit complaining about conditioning, and quit taking for granted a busy schedule that is literally made just for you. Tens of thousands of young girls and boys would do anything to be in the position (literally) that you are in. Take advantage of being a role model to those young kids who think the world of you.

Freshmen, this is what you have wanted for so long. Take advantage of the newness, take advantage of the advice, encouragement, and constructive criticism that your older teammates give you. Soak it all in, four years goes by really quickly.

Sophomores, you now know how it works. Be confident in your abilities, yet continue to learn and grow mentally and in your position.

Juniors, prepare to take the lead. Use this season to, of course, continue to sharpen your skill, but also recognize that you're over halfway done, so mentally and physically ready yourself to take the seniors' lead next year.

Seniors, this is it. Your last year of playing the sport that you love. Be a good leader, motivate, and leave your mark on the program in which you have loved for so long. Encourage the athletes behind you to continue the traditions and standards set by the program. Lay it all on the field, leave it all on the court, and leave your program better than you found it.

Take the season one day at a time and, each day, make it your goal to get better. Get better for your team, for you pushing yourself makes everyone else work even harder. So even if you don't get a lot of playing time, make your teammates better by pushing yourself so hard that they have no other choice than to push themselves too. And when a team has every single player pushing themselves to the max, success happens.

Take advantage of this time with your teammates and coaches, for they won't be your teammates and coaches forever.

No matter what year you are and no matter what your role is this season... GROW. You are an integral part of your team and your program.

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5 Things To Take Away From The 2019 Sugar Bowl

The 2019 Sugar Bowl was a test of mental strength between the Texas Longhorns and the Georgia Bulldogs. In the end, the Longhorns held on to win 28-21, yet there aren't too many reasons to fret over this shocking upset.

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1. Sidelined Defense 

Georgia struggled to run a pressure defense on Texas Quarterback Sam Ehlinger, but this was not unexpected. Georgia was missing star DB Deandre Baker, who sat out to preserve his stock in the 2019 NFL Draft, OLB D'Andre Walker who was tending a groin injury, and DL Jordan Davis who was fighting a back injury.

2. Offensive Fighters 

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While multiple injuries plagued the Bulldogs this season, many who had issues should be at full capacity by the start of the 2019 season. These include some current starters, such as brick wall Offensive Linemen Ben Cleveland and Cade Mays. There are also some who started the season hindered by an injury, such as 5-star RB Zamir White who suffered an ACL injury in the pre-season. Also missing from action was freshman all-purpose back James Cook, a large weapon in the slot and sideline sweep plays. This nearly made the Georgia run game one dimensional and leads to another large factor in the failure to launch in UGA's usual offensive prowess.

3. RUN THE BALL... or maybe not

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The Georgia running game has always been a staple of the team's offensive success. The Sugar Bowl was an opportunity to capitalize on a Texas defense who has been known to miss tackles. The Georgia run game was shut down, only amassing 72 yards total. Partially due to preparation by the Texas defense, this stoppage also had lots to do with a lack of confidence that may Georgia rushers usually come equipped with. D'Andre Swift fumbled twice in the game, and even one misstep such as a lost fumble can shoot a young back's confidence. Elijah Holyfield was also stuffed at the line through all but 5 rushes on the day. A player who has been very overlooked by the media and limelight alike has been Junior Brian Herrien, who, while only gaining 17 yards on the ground, scored Georgia's first touchdown of the night, and fought for yards on every carry he was afforded. With a healthy future for James Cook and Zamir White and both Herrien and Holyfield reportedly returning for their senior seasons, this team's rushing attack should only get better.

4. The Future

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Georgia has another top 5 projected recruiting class to add onto the already young roster. This includes five committed 5-star players such as 1st ranked recruit in the nation DE Nolan Smith, 1st ranked ILB Nakobe Dean, 1st ranked center Clay Webb who was flipped from his home state Alabama team, 2nd ranked DT Travon Walker, and top 10 WR Dominick Blaylock. This fills in gaps left by stars such as center Lamont Gaillard, DE Jonathan Ledbetter, WR Terry Godwin, and LB D'Andre Walker.

5. A Show of Class

Head Coach Kirby Smart made it very clear to the public this season that he was not satisfied with a game won with extraneous penalties, and this showed as the Bulldogs totaled 0 penalties through the first half, and only 3 for the game in total. Towards the end of the game during the Georgia offense's last drive, Texas had 2 different cornerbacks disqualified for obvious targeting calls, and though Georgia was visibly upset and stood up for one another, there was a show in class by the team that exemplified what Bulldawg Nation strives for: respect. They knew by that time that the more focused team came to play, and seemed to run more efficiently when this occurred, with two fourth-quarter touchdowns.

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