Many a coach
Waxes on the benefits
Of common goals and the life lessons
Learned when people compete
On a team.

Many a poet
Writes eloquently of the rewards gained
When a man tests his mettle
In the struggle of physical effort
And competition against others.

I like to think I’m both
Coaching once again
And hitting these keys in the Han-ee style of free verse,
Looking back, both the coach and poet
Have it right.

My time playing high school sports
Oozed plenty of sweat,
But more importantly squeezed from me
All environmental influence of the times
About who people are.

My teammates were friends
People to go to battle with,
People to break bread with,
People, friends,
Teammates.

I learned that opportunity comes in uncertain ways
But gift horse or not, opportunities should be taken
Because the world is a tough place
And it matters little who you are
Only that you seize the opportunities when they are presented.

I learned how fickle experience can be
One moment making life seem easy and fun
The next swatting at an ego with Tyson like efficiency.
The essence of competing is struggle
And learning to manage the experience is how we get better.

Coaches will rant, poets will weave stanzas of ahhh
And both know why sports participation is important
Learning to struggle brings us together
Creating bonds that cannot be understood
In isolated phone and tablet bound postures.

I owe a great deal to my coaches
Who set the laws that I learned to follow.
I owe a great deal to my teammates
Who showed me no favor, but allowed me to be part of the gang.

So are my lessons from basketball at LHS…

I want to be the guy
Who arrives at a wedding
In golf shoes with the spikes removed
Because they are the nicest shoes I have
And I don’t give a hoot about convention

I want to be the guy
Who sits in the back of the room
Sizing up the “questionables” up front
And uses their self-serving logic against them
When it’s best for the whole team

I want to be the guy
Who doesn’t need a big stick
Since my words carry weight
In their softness and conviction
That can’t really be denied

I’ve got some work to do.