And now, a few more coaching stories . . .

Posted: December 16, 2015 in Humor, Kids, Sports

When you’ve coached as long as me you have stories. Here are a few that have huh_450come to mind recently . . .

It was back in my early years of coaching, back when I was way tougher on kids than I am now. Yes, believe it or not that guy you see on the sidelines is a much mellower version of his former self.

That said, in the early days when somebody showed up late there was hell to pay, no questions asked. There was virtually no acceptable excuse for tardiness barring a death in the family or the loss of a limb.

Until one day something happened that caused me, from that point on, to always ask before lighting into somebody.

It was at an evening practice when one of my players (let’s call him Mark) showed up for a 7:00 pm practice at 7:12 pm. As he walked into the gym, the rest of the team grew quiet, knowing what was coming. I met him at the door, ripping into him about dedication, discipline, sacrifice, respect for your coach and teammates, and the oncoming global economic collapse.  OK, maybe not that last part, but you get the point. Trust me when I say I was spitting and yelling and generally becoming unglued. It was the night before a game for God’s sake! Had he no soul?

All the while, Mark just stood there looking me in the eye, patiently waiting for his crazy-ass coach to finish, which I finally did. I then told him he had 30-seconds to explain himself, and damn it, it had better be good.

His reply is burned into my memory:

“My house burned down.”

Wow. Not only had he explained himself in 27-seconds less than the 30 I’d given him, he’d made it to practice only 12-minutes late after his house had burned down.

And yes, I felt like the biggest jackass on the planet, which incidentally may have been 100% accurate at the time.

After regrouping and asking if his family was OK, I apologized and gave him a hug, which he reciprocated even though I’m 99% sure he’d have rather punched me in the pie-hole and walked out.

Oh, and I insisted that he go home and be with his family. Good for me? Maybe a little? No?

Years ago I had a player on one of my basketball teams who wasn’t what you would call a Rhodes Scholar. Let’s call him Bryan. On our fast break he was supposed to go to a certain spot of the floor. In the PV gym that spot was where the Bearcat Paw was painted near mid-court. When we got the rebound Bryan was supposed to go to the Bearcat Paw and wait for the outlet pass. As a result I’d drilled that into his head in the pre-season:

“Bryan! Go to the Bearcat Paw!”

You get the idea. Anyway, we had our first scrimmage that year at Alexander HS. A couple minutes into warm-ups Bryan came running over to me, wild-eyed, and yelled this:

“Coach! Where do I go on our break? There’s no Bearcat Paw!”

Guess the Spartan head wasn’t enough for Bryan. Sigh.

Once I had a kid who’d just received three Fs and a D- on his interim report. Clearly I was not amused, so I asked him what the hell he’d been doing in class. His response?

“That’s what I get for focusing too much on one subject, coach.”

Think about what he meant for a second. See, he was talking about the D- there. Get it? Never mind.

Finally, I once had a player who didn’t own a tie. This was a problem because I often require my players to wear ties on game day. I’d been given a really expensive silk tie by a friend a few years prior, so I decided to give him that one. As I handed it to him the following conversation transpired:

Me: “Larry, I’m giving you a tie that was given to me as a gift. It’s a nice one. This baby probably cost over $100.”

Larry, looking at the tie quizzically: “What does it do?”

See, Larry figured that if a tie cost that much money it must light up or play music or something. I mean, it had to cost that much money for a reason, right?

Yeah, in over 30-years you gather a lot of teaching and coaching stories. Here’s hoping for a lot more.


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