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Chuck Won and I was Happy…

Just recently something happened that made me smile, ear to ear smile to be specific.  Chuck Harris made my crystal ball prediction come true.  I won’t go as far to say that he made me look like a genius, but… oh wait, I just said it.  Six years ago when Chuck was in the eighth grade he was in the Championship game of the PYBL, the best 8th grade league in the country.  He hit what everyone thought was the game winner, but it wasn’t.  So I wrote the blog that you can read below called “Chuck lost and I was happy…”. Feel free to scroll down and read it now.  
Fast forward to this past Wednesday night.  Chuck is a Freshman at Butler University and they are in the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden, also known as The Mecca (of basketball).  The lights are bright, the game is on national TV, and the stakes can’t get higher as they face Xavier University.  Chuck has 19 points in the second half (yeah, read that again) and the game is now in overtime.  Butler is down 1 with 18 seconds remaining as the ball is inbounded and Butler brings the ball up the court.  Chuck gets the ball in his hands with 9.7 secs remaining and is patient for 5 secs… and then he makes his move to the basket.  As he drives he is fouled with 3.7 secs.  THIS IS IT!!! This is the tiny detail that he learned six years ago the hard way when the only prize for winning was a plastic trophy and a pat on the back.  As an 8th grader, he left 8 secs for the other team to go down and score, as a Freshman in college he left only 3.7 secs.  Chuck hit both free throws after he was fouled giving Butler the 1 point lead and not enough time for Xavier to go down and score.  He won the game for his team.
This is such a great learning opportunity for both players and parents.  The detail about how many seconds to leave on the clock is secondary to the real point of this story. Don’t miss out on the learning opportunities that are right in front of us every day.  Getting caught up in wins and losses, especially at the youth level, is juvenile and short sighted. Look at the big picture and the learning opportunities that are presented to you.  I was able to teach Chuck this important lesson six years ago using his pain as a motivator which enabled me to see the joy on his face after Wednesdays victory!
Chuck won and I was happy…


That may not be entirely true, but there was definitely a part of me that was happy.   The reason is because I see the game differently.  Most people see a basketball game in the moment, I see the future.

Chuck Harris is one of my favorite kids and is a pretty good basketball player.  He’s been playing at the highest level you can ask of an 8th grader and been very successful at it.  This summer he was named the MVP of the PYBL, which is a league full of future D1 College players, where he was the only player in the league to average over 20 points a game.

This past Sunday I saw the Championship game for Chuck in the PYBL Winter League.  He hit what we all thought was the game winning shot with 8 seconds remaining… but 8 seconds is a long time and it gave the other team time to go down and score to win.  After Chuck scored, a player from the other team drove down the court and was fouled giving him 2 free throws to seal the game.  It was an exciting finish and in typical fashion, the fans in the stands let the emotion of the moment take over and they were yelling everything you could imagine from blaming the refs to making excuses for the loss.  I refuse to see things that way, even if the refs did make the wrong call.  When Chuck scored with 8 seconds remaining on the clock I pretty much knew that sealed the loss for his team, it gave the other team too much time to go back and score.  I don’t blame the refs, I BLAME CHUCK! 

Chuck lost and I was happy because I saw a great opportunity to teach him something more valuable than a plastic trophy.  Like I said earlier, I see things differently than a parent, coach, or fan because Evolution’s players long term success is my first priority.  Chuck has many years of basketball ahead of him and using this moment to teach him how to win the game when he’s a senior in High School or College is much more important than an 8th grade league game.  I see every failure as an opportunity to improve.  I actually hope this loss stings for Chuck and he remembers it in the future. The more it stings the more he will remember he can’t leave that much time left on the clock.  Chuck will hit another game winning shot, I can guarantee that…

Here’s the video of the (almost) game winning shot by Chuck.  When everyone else jumped up to cheer, I stayed sitting and mumbled a 4 letter word under my breath knowing the probable fate of the next play.

Note… I did check with Chuck’s father prior to posting this.  He thought it was great!

Chuck won and I was happy…

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