The Personal Side of March Madness

G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images

G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images

For the past two weeks, many of us have been drawn to the Madness of March found in the NCAA basketball tournaments.  Whether we’re keeping track of our brackets, following our favorite players, critiquing the coaches, or just switching channels with the remote, we’re drawn to the drama.  In this age of modern media, though, we’re also drawn to the personalElizabeth and Elena Delle Donne stories that are brought to light through extensive coverage. While we marvel at the Nowitzki-like skills of Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne as she propelled her team into the Sweet Sixteen, we were amazed at her undying loyalty and compassion for her sister, Lizzie, who has dealt with a variety of disabilities since her birth.  We saw that the explosive Adreian Payne from Michigan State can bang with the best, but still find the energy and time to befriend a little girl he happened to connect with on a hospital visit:

And we hear about the perseverance of coaches like Jeff Walz, the Louisville women’s coach responsible for the remarkable upset of #1-ranked Baylor, who has dealt with and overcome the challenge of stuttering.

How can any of us not be moved by the story of point guard Michael Carter-Williams? As his Syracuse team was beating Cal in the third round, his family home was engulfed in flames.

He responded to that frightening news by spending the days afterward leading his team to the Final Four by upending Indiana and Marquette!  It’s stories like these that captivate all of us as we watch the Madness.

BASKETBALL – Everyone has a story!

And these are just the stories we hear about during the tournament!  Every player and every coach has a story.  To me, that’s one of the reasons I coach.  Coaches who only care about outcomes and salaries are what Joe Ehrmann calls “transactional” coaches, while those who focus on the process and growth through relationships can be “transformational” coaches.

CassidyI’m blessed to work for Shawn Cassidy at Concordia University. Shawn is passionate about telling his story to our team.  He persevered as a role player on some good CUW teams in the early 90’s and cares deeply about the mission of the university.  He continually shares with our players the stories of his teammates and the challenges they faced on and off the floor.  Most importantly, he provides opportunity and encouragement for a new generation to share their own stories by getting involved on campus and in the community.  That’s what transformational coaches do!

LIFE – The story of a father.

It’s also what good parents do – they share their story – especially the challenges, the mistakes, and the struggles, with their children.  It took me a while to realize that. Since I spent a lot of time during my kids’ early years on the recruiting trails, it was easy to fall into the trap of being my kids’ hero,  the super dad, but God gave me a unique set of circumstances that can help me to be a good parent.  My childhood was not easy.  My father left our family when I was at the vulnerable age of 12 and I fought the embarrassment of that for most of my life.  I made a ton of mistakes as a teen and learned some hard lessons, lessons that I can now use as a parent to influence my kids.  I want them to know my story and I want them to trust me when I tell them how motivated I am to be a great dad!

FAITH – It’s your story, so tell it!

blind manGod gives each of us our own story.  We all have gifts, experiences, and challenges that shape who we are and make us unique.  In that uniqueness, though, we each have our own story of faith to tell.  No one else has the same story as you!  I love the story in John 9 of Jesus healing a blind man. The church leaders of the day got very upset and peppered the healed man with questions about Jesus.  They wanted him to say something slanderous or condemning, but he simply replied with his unique story:

25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

Plain and simple.  Jesus healed him.  That’s his story and I’m sure he told everybody he met for the rest of his life.  What’s your story?  Don’t be afraid to share it.  Tell it to your players.  Tell it to your kids.  Tell it to yourself.


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