Out the Way, Coach



…middle school…hoops practice…pass a
few years…

Organized a Stampede swimming party yesterday at North Kansas City Community
Center.  It was my farewell to the young men who’ve done mostly what I
asked on the basketball court for the last four years.  Fine times.

Not much of a before and after comparison.  The crew on the left (in
fifth grade, three years ago) morphed into the group on the right (yesterday’s
bunch).  Along the way, we expanded to two teams, holding open roster spots
for seventeen players this past winter.  And, although I confess to whining
once in a while, joking that it was a mistake to take on so much, I can’t say
I’d change any of it, trade any of the kids or their families for different
ones.  Six of them didn’t make it yesterday for the swimming and
pizza.  Baseball, church stuff, graduations.  

My talk was briefer than usual yesterday; the lifeguard interrupted me to go
over the important pool rules.  I told the boys and their families two
things:  1.  Young players shouldn’t play for the same coach for more
than four years (which means my time is rightly served and we’re both better for
it being done), and 2.  Second place is a better teacher than first place
(note that everyone was holding second place trophies from this winter–both
teams, green and blue, finished one spot behind an unbeaten squad in their
respective leagues).  All in all, we finished with a record of 60-32 over
four years–including a couple of first places, second places, and even, um,
well, a winless season in Smithville (against older kids).  In late
December, we even matched up with an "eighth grader" who dunked three
times against us in a 90-something-to-much-less-than-90 blowout.  Some days
there just weren’t enough timeouts.  Still have a few t-shirts in a box if
faithful EWM readers want to claim one (various sizes, athletic gray). 
They’re like the one A. (front left in the photo on the right) is wearing. 
Seriously–extra shirts.  Just shoot me an email.  Spare tees are free
(to the first five readers who tell me they’d like one…kinda like a radio call
in); the nostalgia, on the other hand, is priceless.