For the last week or so, I get a daily email from my friend John Howell with a TFTD (thought for the day). I coached with John at Oviedo High School, and this a practice he has maintained for a group of friends for quite some time. I was moved with today’s thought on selflessness and obtained his permission to share it.
Our TFTD is the word ‘SELFLESSNESS’:
Selflessness means that you will do what is best for the team. The late Jimmy Valvano (of N.C. State) put it this way “A person does not become whole until he or she becomes part of something bigger than himself or herself.” That is one of the best yet most simple descriptions of what being on a team is. To be part of something bigger than yourself requires selflessness and an understanding that there will be personal sacrifice for the good of the team (or the school, institution, etc.).
As a coach, that applies to all our players, but really applies in a large way to the bench players we have on our teams. They will seldom get any playing time and absolutely no attention from the media, but they are expected to work just as hard as the stars on the team – if not harder. Because of that, it is imperative that we treat them the same as we treat our starters, leading scorers, stars, etc. The guys who sit the bench are asked to give up all of their personal glory for the team concept.
When I think of selflessness, I think back to the 2006-07 season we were playing against our arch-rivals Lake Howell High School in the Old Gym. We shot the ball just about as poorly as you could possibly shoot (22% for the night) but had cut a 20 point lead down to 8 points with a little more than 2:00 minutes to go. As we went through the 4th quarter, we continually forced the Lake Howell guards to turn the ball over so we were still in the game.
When Rees Hoover missed a ‘3′ that would have cut the lead to 5 points at the 2:00 mark, I “knew” that it was over and prepared to clear the bench for the final two minutes. I wanted to give the bench guys a chance to play in front of the packed house of over 1000 screaming fans that used to show up in the old gym when the SilverHawks came to town. As we talked about the game plan for the final 2:00, my back up point guard Ian DeLong looked up and said “Coach we want them to stay and finish the game.” I was kind of shocked so I asked him ‘why?’. Ian replied “They’re still playing as hard as they can and they got us here all season long.”
These kids were willing to give up playing in front of the sold out gym to do something they thought was the best for their team and out of respect for the fellow players. That’s one of the things that’s great about being a coach. You see a side of kids that many people don’t get to see.
Have a great weekend!