Ha! Bet that title made some of my family turn their heads. Me? Against basketball?
"Didn't you grow up in Indiana, the land of the Hoosiers?" (Did you know the little school that inspired the movie Hoosiers still sells copies of that original game? Pretty cool!)
"Why Heather didn't you used to play and coach basketball? How can you be against it?"
Yes I did. I started playing basketball when I was 9 years old. I loved it! I played through middle school and high school. Larry Bird and Michael Jordan were my heroes! Even though I wasn't an outstanding player I walked onto my college basketball team and was part of the team for 2 years. I didn't hardly play of course in those college days but it was a great experience for me because I learned a great deal about coaching. I got to play during practice, and boy did I have to work hard, and then I got to learn during the games. Defenses and offenses and analyzing situations while sitting on the bench was something I came to enjoy. I quit my college team when games and practices interfered with my class schedule.
After I landed my first teaching job right out of college I was asked to help out the seventh grade girl's coach, Jay. He had a daughter on the team and I ended up coaching with them for two years. Jay became like a second dad to me. I'd go to his house after games and on the weekends and eat dinner with his family. Then we'd talk basketball and cows. He was a farmer and raised Angus cattle and was determined to teach me about beef. I was raised around numerous dairy farms; dairy and beef cattle aren't the same! Beef and basketball had about the same amount of importance to Jay.
I loved basketball! I went to lots of games. I was vocal! I hooped and hollered with the best of em'! I practiced with my 7th grade girls. And I practiced hard, in fact I broke my kneecap during one practice after a freak fall. That made me grumpy but I kept playing, well, after my knee healed anyway.
I can't say everything about coaching basketball was great. The worst part can be summed up in one word. Mothers.
I couldn't believe how crazy some of these mothers could get over a 7th grade girls basketball game. One mother, no wait, two mothers followed me into the locker room (at different times) after a game to rail on me, in front of my girls, about their daughter's lack of playing time. One of those girls had been out for 6 weeks with a stress fracture and I didn't play her in her first game back. She hadn't practiced for 6 weeks! What was the mother expecting? If I had played her daughter and she'd been hurt then she'd have blamed me for her injury.
Another mother was so loud that she would interrupt my and Jay's train of thought during the game. Everyone in the gym could hear this woman holler! Her outbursts weren't always the most positive uplifting shouts of encouragement either. (She's earned a lifetime ban from the town's baseball fields!) More than once I could see the embarrassment she caused her daughter. Poor kid!
Since coaching all those years ago, I've kind of backed out of the basketball scene. It isn't easy dragging kids to games so that's been kind of my excuse, even though perhaps not the real reason that I've stopped attending basketball games. I hadn't been to a game in years until my sister in law invited me to watch her high school senior sister play while we were home for Christmas this year back in Indiana. Grandma watched my kids and I went to the game with my brother and sister in law. It was great! I loved it! I know my personality and I know that if I allowed myself to I could get really emotionally involved in a game. If I started going to ball games again I could be the loudest one in the stands! I could see myself coaching from the stands too.
March Madness has gotten me thinking about basketball recently. Our high school boys' team here in town is heading to the state tournament and the girls' team has a good shot at the state title as well. Everyone in my little Kansas town is big into following these teams. I haven't even been to a game.
Why not you ask? Why haven't I attended a basketball game in so long since I seem to enjoy the game so much?
Well, I think I did get a bit burnt out on basketball while I was coaching and after years of playing, and I don't want to turn into one of those 'crazy mothers'. If my kids play basketball (or any sport) I will support them all the way! I'll be at games and I'll do the fundraising and feeding the team and whatever they need. What they won't need is me as their coach. I don't want to get so into the game that I end up thinking I know more than the coach someday. After all, I'm won't be the one that spends hours practicing with my kids and learning every one's strengths and weaknesses. I won't be the one going to coaching clinics in the off season. Why should I think I'd ever know better than a coach on how to coach?
I don't want to be one of those crazy parents of an athlete. I'm sure the time will come when I'll have plenty of basketball games to keep me busy. But, for now, I'm staying away from basketball to keep my craziness at bay.