BY JOHN McALEAVEY | Can you hear it? The sound of basketballs bouncing is building to a crescendo. First, it was the NBA, which started its season a few weeks ago. This Friday, college basketball begins anew. Most importantly for me, though, is that the South Mountain Basketball League is just a few weeks away from tipping off. What is the South Mountain Basketball League you ask? It is the youth basketball league I have been coaching in for the last fifteen years, and tonight is the final night of tryouts for this year’s edition of the 8th grade boys travel team.
I must say, coaching basketball was among the last things I ever thought I would be doing with my time over the years. Following the serious spinal cord injury I had in 1992 which ended my athletic days, never did I think I would be mentoring young men in basketball. As it is, I cannot even hold a basketball any longer, let alone dribble one. So, when a friend asked me to get involved all those years ago, I balked at first. How could I help? What could I teach the team, and would the boys even take me seriously? After a little prodding and summoning up a whole lot of bravery, I agreed to help as an assistant and haven’t looked back since. Coaching has filled a big void in my world which was created by the injury. For at least fourteen games over two and a half months every year, basketball quenches my thirst for competition. In fact, I tell each team that I coach the following: “you are running, jumping, and competing not only for yourselves and each other, but also for me”. I enjoy the aspect of having time on a clock, and trying to find a way to score at least one more point than an opponent.
Hoop season seems to come around faster every year, and I get revved up for it each time. This year will be a little different because my two long time assistants have retired. Lucky for me though as I have a pair of my former point guards who have joined the staff. Their interest in wanting to get involved with me and the program they came through is a nice validation that despite my initial hesitations, I am having the impact I so hoped I could. We begin practicing in the next two weeks, with games to follow in mid December. Stay tuned folks, I will keep you up to speed with how we are doing from week to week. Can you tell I’m psyched? I should be, it’s that time of year again.
And that is My 2 Sense for this week. As always, thanks for reading.
Photo credit: headinthegame.net