“Game time t minus 2 hours. #runtostate” – 7pm 17-Feb
I spent the last few years coaching boys high school basketball in Truckee and Reno and honestly I don’t know that anything could be a greater honor and pleasure. The boys that I taught the fundamentals as their junior varsity and club coach for two years just played the last basketball game of their high school careers and lost 42-34 only scoring one basket in the last 2:30 of the game. These are tweets from those players:
“Nothing hurts more than falling short of your dreams #crushed” – 11pm 17-Feb
“Hate when u fall short of ur dreams and goals.” – 11pm 17-Feb
“Never hurt this bad, cried that long & cared so much.” – 4am 18-Feb
I understand the feeling; I too was there 9 years ago as the 3A high school team in Northern Nevada not only hoping, but expected to take state with our 6′-8″ center, dominant power forwards, best defense, and 9 seniors. Undefeated throughout league play, facing opponents we have dominated twice already. I remember the feeling in the locker-room at half time; the thought of, “what if we lose?” And I remember that fear of it, debilitating, mentally clogging, jarring you with every point on their scoreboard. I remember the coach’s yell at me during the timeout, “If you don’t learn to take that rebound back up now, you’ll never learn. You’re not going to have another chance.”
“It’s all over. Those four years went by way too fast. #nomore24” – 5am 18-Feb
“Still hurting” – 8am 18-Feb
When I got home I remember writing for hours into the night about how that was the “worst day of my life.” How not only had we lost a game, that I felt it was my fault, that one of our teammates cars had broken down on the way home, and another teammate had his house broken into and sports memorabilia stolen. In my mind I would never play basketball again and I would never have another opportunity.
But today that game and that night are one important lesson in my background, one of my many failures. I have failed many times since then, and I have been wrong more often than I care to admit. The point that I have found and the one I teach my boys is this:
Life is always going to throw stuff at you, place obstacles in your way and shit is going to hit the fan. Most of the time you can’t choose what will be thrown at you. The one real choice that you have in life is how you react.
Losses are something I used to fear, but are a very important learning opportunity. Frustration, anger and fear cloud your mind and can debilitate you. Having clarity is not in saying it does not matter; it is in realizing the life lessons. It is in getting back up, being thankful for what you have, and learning how you can do it better.
“Love everyone on my team couldn’t have asked for a better group of team mates.” – 17-Feb
Every outcome is possible when you walk out the door. You can win today and you can lose today. If you act in anger when you lose and do not learn from it, you will fear that anger and lose more often. The nirvana comes in accepting failure as a possibility, knowing what that would look and feel like, and not being afraid of it. Knowing that every end is really a new beginning.
“Im so proud of my teammates tho & if I had to do it again I wouldn’t change anything.” 18-Feb
In this clarity of mind you’re no longer focusing on the scoreboard, but instead on doing the best you can at whatever task is at hand. In not being concerned about winning and losing but being focused IN doing and not UPON doing. I argue that if you focus in doing your very best in the moment for every moment instead of trying to keep your score higher than the other’s, at the end of the game you will have racked up more points than you ever thought possible.
“I’m proud of you man I’m really gunna miss playing with you best three years of my life” – a Junior to fellow Senior player at 1pm 18-Feb