Now that I am fully settled and have transitioned nicely into a routine here I can start to fully focus on the tasks in front of me and less on the logistics of living abroad. Alongside working in local primary and secondary schools I have begun to coach a local 18u club. Having our first game this weekend down in the SCL headquarter city of Belfast was a unique experience for me not only because I am an American coaching a team of all non-american players but also because it gave me a chance to reflect on all the coaches and mentors that I have had in the game of basketball. Standing on the sideline shouting for the team to box out or get back on defense provided me with a surreal moment of remembering being on the opposite side of those instructions. It feels like just yesterday that I was traveling hours away with friends I grew up with often times enjoying the experience of traveling and joking around with teammates on the bus more than the games themselves. It made me realize that with this trip winning was not the most important thing, which from a coaching perspective is a hard pill to swallow. As the game progressed I tried to focus on allowing the players to grow and progress the best they could and less on trying to end the game with more points on the scoreboard.
As we were on the bus headed back to Letterkenny following a tough loss we stopped to grab food. As the 3 clubs aboard the bus hurried into the rest station laughing and joking with one another (while also pushing and shoving to get to the front of the line) I took solace in knowing that despite losing we had taken steps in the right direction. From a basketball standpoint we did in fact grow a lot and learn valuable things about the team dynamic, but from a personal standpoint I could see how much fun the team had had. Growing up as a supremely competitive kid who thought winning was everything, it was a calming moment to see that it wasn’t the game but the process that enjoyment is derived from. As the season and my time in Ireland continues I am going to try and remember that it is not the end result but the journey that is most important. Hopefully that journey could have a few wins along the way though.