If you can’t play, coach… (topic 1 of 157)


action backboard ball basketball

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If you read my previous post you know I’m embarking on a new venture, I’m writing about 157 topics, in the order I jotted them down in my phone.

I wrote the notes to myself over the last few years because, I guess, I had been a writer but currently was not one? Or didn’t think I was one? Or had reached a new level of laziness? Whatever the reason, I stopped writing, but at some level knew I still wanted to write, so compiled a tome of things to write about – someday.

Welcome to someday…

I’m an athlete, and at my age (54) I’m still fast. I’m hard to get the better of on a soccer field, I go to the gym, lift weights, ride a bike (and a skateboard) etc., etc. One thing I don’t do is play basketball. I can only remember one period in my life when I did, and that was as a kid living in Northern California. Dad nailed a hoop to the garage and me, my brother, and the neighborhood kids would play in our driveway.

But here’s something you’ve got to know: the game the rest of us were playing was nothing like the one my little brother Brian played. He was leaps and bounds ahead of us – figuratively and literally. If he wanted to take the ball from you, he could. If he wanted to score on you he could. It was weird – frustratingly weird – for me, an athletic kid, to be part of a game where, because of the far-above-average level of play by an opponent, I felt like ‘what’s the point?’

Unless I was on his team, then the drill was, get the ball to Brian and he’ll score.

After those afternoons on our driveway court, I stuck to sports I got more payoff from. Football? Great. Baseball? Sure. Soccer? You bet. But, whether I was aware of the reason or not, I began avoiding basketball.

Fast forward a few years to me in the Air Force – the unit I was in had a basketball team, as most units on base did, which I had no desire to be a part of. But here’s the funny thing about the military: they don’t really factor your desires into their plans for you. It was made clear to me that everybody tries out for the team – everybody. But I didn’t want to play basketball. I argued that I was already on the Base Soccer Team, but to no avail.

So here’s where I went with it: I asked if they had a coach? Well, no, not yet, but they were sure one (older, more experienced in basketball strategy and drills and nuances) would show up.

So I asked for the job.

And, I’m still not quite sure why, they gave it to me.

So on game night I’d dress up in a jacket and tie, stand on the sidelines with clipboard in hand, and “coach”. Which was really kind of funny ’cause these guys knew exactly how to play, and they were good (really good) and usually blew the other team out.

As I watched idly by.

I’m an athlete, but every now and then the better gig is spectating…


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