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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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.
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Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.


Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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Season Takeaways For All 32 NFL Teams: NFC South Edition

How did your favorite team perform in the 2018-19 season and what are the biggest questions that need to be addressed this offseason and beyond? This week, I'll be reviewing the four teams in the NFC South.

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It's been another exciting season in the NFL. At the beginning of each year, each team/fanbase has a slue of expectations for their team whether you're in the middle of a rebuild, seeing how rookie talent pans out or plotting for contention in the playoffs. Regardless of the team, expectations always change. Injuries, free agency and coaching changes all play a role in how a team re-evaluates their priorities, and there's never a shortage of any of those three in this league. Here's how the NFC East faired this season.

1. New Orleans Saints - The window to win a Super Bowl may be closing

The missed pass interference/helmet-to-helmet call in the NFC Championship has put a sour taste in what was a great season for the Saints all things considered. The last time the Saints made the division championship game they went on to win the Super Bowl and many believe that they had a great chance to compete against whatever team emerged out of the AFC. However, losing a 13-point lead at home and then failing to get a touchdown with the first possession in overtime makes it harder to justify the position they find themselves in.

Drew Brees just turned 40 and I think it's only because Tom Brady is still playing that the "washed up/declining performance" narrative has escaped him. Granted, the Patriots have dominated both the headlines and the NFL for the greater part of two decades whereas the Saints have somewhat flown under the radar. With Drew Brees increasing in age, a limited receiving core and star running back Mark Ingram approaching unrestricted free agency this offseason, it'll be interesting to see if the Saints can continue their upward momentum.

2. Atlanta Falcons - Too many injuries to overcome

28-3 jokes aside, the Atlanta Falcons had everything they needed for another playoff run when the season opened. 2016 MVP Matt Ryan was looking to bounce back off a below-average year for his standards alongside other star players Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman. The Falcons were another one of those teams that just found themselves plagued by injuries. Their defense took major hit after major hit which eventually placed them in the bottom half of the league by the end of the season.

Offense remained complicated for the Falcons as well. Running back Devonta Freeman missed four of the first six games of the season due to complications with his foot and knee before being placed on the Injured Reserve in Week 6. There's also been much to say about the Falcon's former offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and the correlation between him and the Falcons' lower offensive outputs. The Falcons will now look to Drik Koetter, former head coach at Tampa Bay and Falcons offensive coordinator from 2012 to 2014, to revitalize their offense to its full potential.

3. Carolina Panthers - Get Cam healthy

The Panthers suffered from what was probably the biggest season-ending implosion in recent memory this season. By Week 9, the Panthers were 6-2, favorites to win their division with many media personalities taking them to win the conference and get a shot at the Super Bowl. From there, the Panthers lost 7 in a row to end their season 7-9 with a second-place finish in the division and missing the playoffs. The most concerning part is the teams they lost to. The Panthers fell to Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Detroit and Atlanta during that stretch.

At some point, the psychology of losing that many games in a row probably had a lot to do with the Panthers crumbling. But as with most underperforming teams this season, injury definitely played a role as well. Star Tight End Greg Olsen ended his season during the team's Week 13 loss to Tampa Bay and Cam Newton suffered a phantom injury throughout most of the season.

Newton admitted that his injury played a large part in the team's outcome, and the Panthers were so convinced he was unable to play they let him rest for the last two games of the season. In a recent video posted to his YouTube channel, Newton reveals that he suffered some cartilage damage that limited his range of motion. In doing so, Newton was limited in both his accuracy and the distance he could throw downfield. Now that he knows the root of his issue, hopefully the Panthers will take the right steps moving forward to get him back on the field and get the team back to winning.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Too many individual parts

At the beginning of the season, the Tamba Bay Buccaneers surprised everyone in the football world the first handful of weeks into the season. After some absolutely outstanding play from veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was filling in for a suspended Jameis Winston, it really looked like Tampa Bay was going somewhere. Turns out that "somewhere" was to the bottom of the division. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers ended their season 5-11.

A lot of the Buccaneers' woes have come from the quarterback position. After drafting Winston in 2015, he's been prone to play very inconsistently. This year alone, he threw as many interceptions (14) as he did touchdowns (19). Despite this, he has his highest QBR in his career at 71.8. It's hard to determine whether or not he's improved or not as many of his stats appear to move inversely. His yards, touchdowns and total interceptions have trended downward. On the other hand, his yards per attempt and completion percentages have trended upwards.

But fans and the team as a whole remain optimistic with the hiring of head coach Bruce Arians potentially being the key to figuring out Winston. Next season will tell, however, whether or not it's time to finally move on.

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