Many of you know that I took a little break from posting new content. My summer baseball job took its toll and quite frankly, I’m still recovering from and still processing Cleveland’s remarkable comeback in the NBA Finals to beat the Golden State Warriors. Little did I know that Cleveland would move the ball unselfishly, as the Warriors did last year in winning the title, while Golden State would be reduced to desperate and forced shooting. I spent some time re-watching the series and I still believe completely in the way Steve Kerr wants his team to play, but I had to take a closer look at what I value in the game and why I want to approach it the way I do. That may be different if we had LeBron James on our team or if we added Kevin Durant, but by taking the time to analyze what I believe in as a coach, I feel more strongly about our approach to the game and will make some slight adjustments to keep our system relevant and meaningful for our players.
BASKETBALL – Why do it?
As I was doing my own research and preparation for our college practices to begin, I listened to Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Billy Donovan talk about his approach to each new season. He suggested how important it is to continue to refine and add to your system of play, whether it’s in the pros, at the college level, or with high school teams:
“I try to evolve every year in terms of what we are doing and add different things. I want to make sure that everything we do actually helps us get better in how we want to play. I’m not going to do things just to do them.”
It’s important to identify and reinforce your system, but it’s also important to consider if the system continues to not only help your team be successful, but also is relevant to the types of players you have on the team. I’m impressed when I hear coaches say that they are willing to adapt and adjust because far too often I’ve seen “this is the way we do it” coaches get stuck in their own habits and traditions, unwilling to do the hard work of analysis. It takes an objective mindset to truly consider how effective a coach is in philosophy, implementation, and approach. Certainly there is something to be said for mastering an approach and maintaining consistent methods, but as the game evolves and, more importantly, as generations of young people change and develop, coaches have to consider their ways and re-evaluate why they do what they do and how they do what they do.
FAITH – What We Pray
If you were raised in a home of German descent like me, you may be familiar with a traditional prayer for meals called the “Common Table Prayer.”
Come Lord Jesus, be our Guest and let these gifts to us be blessed. Amen
It’s a simple prayer used at almost every meal in the home, at church, and at school. I’ve known it and said it for my entire life, and so have my kids. At times, it can be prayed without much thought, but we’ve always felt comfortable with it as a traditional prayer – that is until my pastor shattered my perspective! Without thinking about it, we ask Jesus to be a “guest” at our table and in our home – a terrific sentiment, but far from an appropriate statement of the hope and request I actually want to express. You see, I don’t want Jesus to simply be a guest, somebody I welcome into our home for a meal who then politely leaves when we’re finished eating. I actually want Jesus to be a part of my family, to live and dwell in my home, my heart, and within my family, just as God expected from his chosen people in Exodus 25:8:
And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.
I want my home and my life to be a place where God is welcome to dwell, not simply visit. So, why say “be our guest?” I would suppose there are adequate explanations based in translation and poetry, but it really made me think. And as I think, I’m less inclined to use the prayer at our table and if we do, I know that each of us will think a little more about why we are praying and what we are saying! It’s the same thing I do as a coach – I want to be thoughtful about what we do, how we teach it, and why we do it.
LIFE – What We Say
Thanks to Colin Kapernick, we’re all thinking about why we do something like stand for the playing of the National anthem. Many of us will simply go along with tradition, maybe even feel more determined about what we are doing, and many of us will actually think about what we’re doing, who we are honoring, and what we hope our flag and nation represent. And sadly, some of us will completely ignore tradition and act foolishly without thought or consideration for what our actions represent. I can’t speak for what Kapernick hopes will happen or what it will take for him to return to his feet, but rather than disregard what happened and feel offended, I choose to consider my hopes and my feelings for what I believe is the greatest nation on earth, despite its faults. I found a lot of truth and thoughtful comments in Dan Everson’s article, On Patriotism, Protest, and Prayer, written for the Jesuit Post.
As our nation continues to mend and grow and as we continue to battle through violence and hatred, my prayer is that we not only invite Jesus to be a part of all that we are as a country, but that we also think more about why we do what we do.