In the state final
In all my years coaching, I will never forget this team. When I was coaching them, they were the most dysfunctional team I have ever coached. They did not play as a team. They had a ton of talent but the team was fractured. We had a group of players that lacked effort who only seemed to care about themselves. This team lost their first 6 games in middle school because they cared more about the individual and did not play for each other.
After the sixth loss, we had to play the best team in the league who blew us out the first game of the season 50 something to nothing. I sat the team down on Monday and told them that things were going to be different this week. It did not matter who you were, how good you were, or how many games you had started. This week, all positions were up for grabs. I whipped the boys into a frenzy all week. 3 of our 4 captains did not start. Our fastest running back sat on the sidelines. Only 5 or 6 players started that game who had started the week before. The parents thought I was nuts, the other coaches thought I was nuts, and the so called super stars thought I was nuts. I went with the players who wanted it the most, worked the hardest in practice and were willing to sacrifice everything for their team rather than for themselves.
You see, my school has a policy that everyone plays equally in middle school. We rotate our players every two plays regardless of talent trying to develop future high school players. Normally, this works out to our advantage as we retain more players and we develop more players. This year was different. All we were developing were bad attitudes and I had only one game left to teach a life lesson. Hard work beats talent, when talent isn't working hard!
That rag tag group of boys came out and demolished the undefeated powerhouse. We ran inside, we ran outside, we threw the ball and we shut them down in all phases of the game while the "stars" sat and watched. After the game, I huddled the boys together and told them that I had never been more proud of a "team". They had finally learned what was possible when you care more about the team than you do about yourself.
Fast forward 5 years. About half the players are gone. The ones that caused all the problems were gone - girlfriends, drugs, jobs, drop outs..... The ones that were left were those players that stood together in that final game in 7th grade. This senior class has overcome all odds and cruised through the high school playoffs scoring an average of 40+ points a game. They have made it to the state finals and I could not be prouder of any group. Out of all the teams I have coached, I have never had another team go 0-6 to start its first season but this group is turning out to be one of the best because they never gave up and they never stopped believing in each other. They have truly overcome all odds.
Awesome stuff coach. In 2004 the team I was coaching had dedicated their season to their teammate who died in July after a lengthy battle with cancer. Well, at the halfway point we were 0-4-1 and did not score a point during the first two games. Well we went on a tear and won the State Championship! It's was amazing to hand the trophy to his parents after the game as they held his jersey together.
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Sometimes those that try us the most are the best. Congrats!
Not MPP... ONE TASK! Teach them! 🙂