Complacency Supports Relaxed Evenings: Monday

“The best art divides the audience.” Rick Rubin

I stood there today
After teaching my classes
How to think of consequences
For a decision to take action or let it all be.
I stood there under the banners
Of Indians, Red-Raiders, Warriors, and
My own hometown Blue Demons
As the best, fastest version of the Star Spangled Banner played.
I wrestled with thoughts of taking a knee
Because the truth is that the country needs a wake-up call.
It needs grassroots movements in compassion,
Civility, and a moral compass pointing due north.

We don’t need propaganda.
We don’t need a media blitz
Or a social media Stuka screaming vulgarities from the Avenue.
We don’t need rallies
That seems to have shed their linens
For suits, fitted caps, and an open-faced scourge of bigotry.
We don’t need that or them.
We don’t need his opinions.
We don’t need his policies ruining what is a great work in progress.

I looked around my gym
With these feelings of disgust of our nation’s leader and
Measuring my steps with such a small audience at our game.
I longed for the changing of the mascot posters,
I yearned for a return to manners, and I took a moment to pray
That the “land of the free and home of the brave”
Will rise above our Big Rocketman
So we can find OUR way.

In the end, I stood
Rationalizing my stance
As a belief in what this country should be…could be…
The reality is probably closer to me thinking
I could not handle the consequences
Of such a statement under the nurturing roof of this longstanding school.

Maybe this is just the place where
I should have been safe enough
To dissent.

Complacency Supports Relaxed Evenings: Sunday

Flags of the World

“The best art divides the audience.” Rick Rubin

The President has weighed in,
Pretty much shirking the bigger picture
Of what the Constitution and United States
Are all about.

He fails to understand those unpopular stances
Help make this grand experiment possible.
He thinks with the brushing of hair,
A little dribble of base language, and
A message totally seeped in propaganda
That free speech will be shut down.

No Mr. President, and with all due respect,
Your free speech is no more important
Than those who feel they are being wronged
By government persecution, by unsteady justice, or
As a result of abstract drawings meant to keep power
In the votes of people enabling the real motivations
Of people to protest.

How about you stick to building coalitions,
Reaching across the aisle to bring Congress together,
Draining the swamp as you promised
Instead of stocking it with the unethical, profit packing visionaries
You brought to your well-funded inauguration party.

Perhaps you could take a moment to understand the grander scale
Of the protests taking place, the voices that are raised in opposition
To inequality, economic injustice, and partisan bickering
That does more to foster the patriotic bloodletting
Than a knee or a t-shirt.
It’s the inaction of your administration and the ambivalent way
Your policies, family, and minions view the majority of the country
That has people kneeling and hoping for a Nixon like ending to this mess.

So please, Sir, do us all a favor,
Put your phone away,
Show whatever non-
Atlantic City,
Trump Air,
Trump University,
USFL business acumen you claimed to have,
Ignore the whims and wishes of your high priest-like donors, and
Do what’s best for our country.

Understanding the depth of protest might be a good place to start.



Photo Credit:

Bewildered Eyes Hack: Patience Allows Laughter

“Comedy is, for the most part, just an obsession with injustice.” Whitney Cummings

He came to school hungry
She never satiated on breakfast.
He acted out,
She sent him to the office.

Later they learned about nutrition
He taking advantage of the program
She realizing Pop-Tarts aren’t that great
The food allowed them to survive.

Years later,
He was working and shopping for produce
She was retired and doing the same.
His basket ran into her little cart.

They recognized each other
His maturity not masking the child
Her wrinkles not scratching out his memories
Of their year together in fifth grade.

They never realized the food bond between them
They never put it together that “hangry” is real
They only knew that giving each other a chance
Created a flood of memories right there in the safe part of the store.

Coaching Volleyball

Being a joke is not something that I handle very well. That being said, I have no idea why I would sign on to coach a sport that I have limited tactical understanding of. That sport is volleyball and I am coaching my school’s junior varsity for the first time. It’s also the first time I’ve ever coached girls. It’s been a crazy few weeks, but I’m starting to find my groove as I have learned a couple of things about volleyball and coaching in general.

1. Sports are sports and once you understand a few basic principles for each sport, there are only complications. The KISS principle works for coaching as well as it does for most of life. For volleyball, “read, move, and hit the ball into the air.” Volleyball Einsteins might question my elementary approach to the game, but since I don’t know what I don’t know, I must rely on keeping the game simple. I want the girls to become better players and that is more about improving their self-efficacy (the belief that they can create success) than it is about some crazy formation that has the team running all over the court and me wondering if they are in the right rotation.

We practice skills much more than we do strategy, although, I do have a bit of a basketball background, and I see zone defense principles as being applicable to our strategy. In hoops, a zone defense allows a player to guard a space. Different zones take different spaces away from an offensive team, but a player should always be ready to move wherever they are most needed. Volleyball is no different, players must cover an area. The trick is getting them into the area and the less offensive movement that is inflicted on a team, the less they have to worry about the transition from offense to defense.

I don’t know, I’m just saying…

2. Players have to play. My job is to prepare the students with the skills to be successful and give them a plan that fosters their success. Ultimately, though, the game is up to them. My goal as a volleyball coach is continuing to get the girls to believe that they can make the necessary plays. I really want to win, but a wise fellow told me that his experience with girls volleyball was that it was more about the experience than the winning and losing. His advice allowed me to continue to believe that keeping our practices simple is important. We spend very little time powering through skills or strategies that are not working. Instead, I have short periods of time that allow the girls to be mentally focused, but the drills stop before boredom sets in and any mentally drift allows for physical errors that might negatively affect their confidence.

Again, I want to focus on their believing that they are creating success.

3. Hustle is as hustlers do…I apologize for the cheap Forrest Gump rip-off, but every sport is based on hustle. Hustle is moving at the speed that is appropriate for the play. Being on time is the most important thing an athlete can do. It’s more than just being to practice on time. It’s getting to the ready position on time, contacting the ball at the right time, cheering on a teammate at the right time. Being on time is what hustle is. I joke with a colleague that I’m trying to turn my volleyball team into a pickup basketball team. We are trying to scramble to spots, get our feet into solid position, and sending the ball to a spot where the next hitter can make a play (unless it’s the third ball, duh, as we don’t want the other team to hit it). I chose to talk about playground basketball because it’s a game of hustle, hustlers win and winners get to keep playing. Not only that because often playground basketball teams are made on the fly and a player better know how to play any position and guard every spot. The general understanding of the game is a real plus for any player wanting a long run on a blacktop.

Maybe I’m overstretching my coaching analogy or just acting from ignorance, but over the last two weeks, the girls are starting to move more. We are starting to expect players to get to spots and even starting skills work 30-minutes before the “real” practice starts. I “freaking” love that.

These are a few thoughts from a guy who has little volleyball coaching experience, but this I know, self-efficacy is an important component of success. I mean, I wrote a dissertation on self-efficacy… Finding what works for the talent that a coach has is way more important than the tactical knowledge that a coach has. The relationship that the coach has with his/her players is probably more important than that. Meshing all of that together into a simple plan that promotes success is the lofty goal for getting a team to reach its potential. I think the girls on our team are on the right track and I believe that my continued understanding of volleyball can only help them get better as long as the new knowledge doesn’t create coaching clutter.


We won our second match today. We’ve dropped four or five, so our record is not what some would consider successful. Yet we are sticking together and working hard in practice. We are getting more competitive in the games we lose and getting more consistent with our hustle so that we play better in most points. What more could I ask for? The girls are creating an atmosphere that makes me want to come back each day. It’s been fun so far and even though tomorrow is an off day at school, we will be working on our footwork and maybe even housing some Munchkins…

Bewildered Eyes Hack: Hungry, Even Less Patience

“Comedy is, for the most part, just an obsession with injustice.” Whitney Cummings

He came to school without having breakfast
Lunch was late, more than half his school day over
Before the subsidized meal got passed his way
Records showed that he spent lots of time in the office
In the periods before he ate

Mmmm, Mmmm, not good.

She noshed all morning long
Biding time on sugary drinks and powdered confections
Until she could sit in gossip in the faculty room.
Her moods went up and down with the spikes in her blood
And he drove her crazy every morning

Hmmm, Hmmm, see a trend?

They butted heads during fasting and gluttony
Waging war with imbalance inside
That proved out of whack on the outside
Turning school into a battlefield that
Could have been avoided with nutritional diplomacy.