So far in my coaching career in Ireland, there have been two unforgettable moments. The first was watching one of my players, Chris, score his first ever basket in a game. I remember when I scored my first basket in a game and as Chris scored his, I flashbacked to my first points. I was about 5 years old and I remember clenching my fist so tight after my shot went in. The excitement I experienced from scoring was in-explainable. At that age, I can probably guarantee that no one really took note that this was my first ever “official” basket. Being able to witness someone else experience the same (if not greater) excitement I had was amazing. The whole team and coaching staff cheered together as it happened and Chris had the biggest smile on his face. Standing there as the ball went through the hoop, I was clenching my fist harder for Chris than I did when I scored mine. I was so extremely proud and happy for him. I hope that this moment will be one he’ll always remember. I know I will.
The second unforgettable coaching moment happened during one of mine and Makenzie’s Monday night practices with our U16 and U19 boys squad. It was a tough practice. Our team wasn’t as focused as they usually are. There were a lot of turnovers, missed layups, and there was barely any communication on the floor – a coach’s ultimate nightmare! During the last full court drill, one of our players, Eoin (bonus points if you can correctly pronounce his name….Did you try?….No, it’s not “E-on”, it’s pronounced Owen), had back to back turnovers. Frustrated with our overall team practice, Makenzie and I told the boys to get on the line – a player’s ultimate nightmare! We told the boys that we wanted them to choose someone to step up and make two consecutive free throws to end practice on a good note. If the shooter missed, we would run until someone made two free throws. A few stepped up and missed resulting in sprints for the team. After a few tries, the team began debating on who to choose. Without hesitation, Eoin raised his hand confidently and said “I will”. As a coach, to have one of your players show this tenacity after having, honestly, a disappointing team practice is phenomenal. It shows that no matter what obstacles may come, you are still focused on the present and what matters now.
Though Eoin wasn’t the team’s first choice to take the free throws, he confidently got up to the line and, I swear I’m not saying this to make this moment sound even more perfect, he swished both free throws. This is one of my favorite coaching moments because it truly sums up what being a coach is all about. A coach is someone who is supposed motivate people to reach their full potential. Eoin could have been disheartened from the practice and turnovers he had in the last drill, but he stayed positive and determined in himself. It also showed that no matter what, you should always believe in your teammates – especially in times of adversity.
Chris and Eoin, thank you for both giving me two moments that I will remember for the rest of my life. Moments like these two are why I am falling in love with the game of basketball all over again from a coaching perspective.