I recently lost the opportunity to coach a talented freshman player. I had high hopes for this player who was an excellent athlete and possessed many of the skills I value as a passer and penetrator. The player professed an interest in playing as soon as football season ended, and observed several practices. Due to the overlap of football and basketball, he was about two weeks behind, but this is not an insurmountable setback for a player of his apparent quality.
After two days of practice the player decided to quit, citing concerns over playing time and role on the team. During the two days he was with the team, he played as well as I expected and clearly would have been a core player. The exact extent of his role, or really any other player’s is, as always, fluid and evolving. His sense of entitlement told him he should be handed something without making an investment.
Sports do not offer guarantees. I like my team, even without him, and have a loose conception of what our record might be, but it is nothing more than speculation. The team and the individuals that comprise it are on a journey, hopefully a journey of improvement and growth on and off the court. We can only account for our investment, our time practicing and working to be better. We have no control over the talent or investment of our opponents.
At seasons end, we will have a record of wins and losses that will tell a part of our story. The rest of the story is the return of the investment. The work put in, the improvement made, the time spent together in laughter, victory, anquish and defeat. The depth and quality of that return is the depth and quality of the investment made.