Friday, September 3, 2010

Lessons from Young Women's Basketball

Go ahead and laugh. I did. My mom did too when I told her. And I'm sure HP was just suppressing a laugh when he found out. I've been called as the Young Women's Athletic Director for our ward.

Now, I am active. I am a regular runner. But there's a reason I run. It requires very little hand/foot/eye coordination. My 7th grade year I decided to really get into school and I tried out for all the sports teams. I got cut from all of them, except track. And track didn't have cuts.

And now they want me to be in charge of the basketball and volleyball for the young women in our ward. It's worth a laugh.

This week we had a basketball clinic for the girls in the stake before play starts next week. It was to help teach the basic skills of dribbling, passing, shooting, and guarding to the girls who hadn't played before or who just wanted to come learn some more. Most of the girls were between 12 and 14.

Since the stake leaders were running it, I was able to sit back and watch. I made two major observations.

Observation #1 - There are two types of church basketball players (or at least there were this week).

The first group of girls was really carefree about the whole thing. If they made a basket, great. If they didn't, oh well, that happens, just try again. Their enjoyment of the activity did not depend on how successful they were. This was the group that made the most improvement over the course of the evening.

The second group seemed to take it as a personal insult when the basket did not move so that their ball could go in. They didn't miss because it just happens. They missed because the basket had a personal grudge against them. These girls did not look to be having a lot of fun, got easily frustrated (even though they might have actually been making more baskets than the first group originally), and actually got worse as the evening went on while their frustration level grew.

I think that first group is going to be alright in life. Bad things happen to all of us, but those girls have the ability to just let it roll right off their back while they keep going.

Observation #2 - The true point of the game.

There was one senior girl there. She's played basketball and volleyball in high school. She knows what she is doing. And she was amazing. And I'm not talking about her basketball skills. I'm talking about how encouraging and helpful she was to everyone. Nobody felt bad around her. During one shooting game I watched her purposefully miss shots she could do in her sleep so she wouldn't knock any of the other girls out of the game.

Her father came and I told him his daughter had an interesting strategy. He said she really got it. And she did. She knew that the point of church sports isn't to win. It isn't even necessarily to do well. It's to get out, try something new, enjoy yourself, and be part of a team. I told him that I admired her strategy and that he'd "done good" raising her. It was absolutely beautiful to watch her out there with the other girls.

She's not just going to be alright in life. She's going to excel. Great things are on their way with her. And not because she gets church basketball. But because she gets life.

And she gets to be on my team. I can't wait to watch how it unfolds.


Julie said...

Very wise and true observations. Thanks.

Hilary said...

I almost had a seizure when I read this post. I have SO many bad memories about stake basketball.
Good luck!

Shawnie said...

Girl's Church basketball taught me one of the most valuable lessons I learned in life about group dynamics. If you make the first foul, the referees watch you like a hawk, and after, call you on every little thing. If several others make fouls before you, they don't watch. This can be applied to school, work, and just about any group. Timeless wisdom, "Don't make the first foul..."

Amy R. Nelson said...

I read this last week when you originally linked it and laughed to myself because I sound exactly like you. I am a regular runner, and uncoordinated in every single other way. I wondered what I would do if I got that calling.

Well, I guess I'll find out because today I got called as the Stake YW Sports Coordinator.

Roxie said...

Good luck Amy. I've discovered that my assistant is the one who will tell them all about basketball. My advice at our game last week was to keep their arms up on defense because it will help air out their underarms.

Instead I basically yelled myself hoarse cheering for them all the whole 30 minute game. Everyone needs a cheerleader in their life, especially teenage girls. And I can certainly stand on the side lines and yell, "Wooo!!" for them.