NEW CASTLE —
Why do you play?
Success is not an accident.
You know that, right?
No one crashes into a wall and wins the race.
The guy on top of the mountain didn’t fall there. He climbed.
You don’t buy the gold medals they slip on you at the Palumbo Center. You earn them.
No one just “arrives.” You’ve got to be intentional and follow a path to excellence.
You CREATE your results.
So again, I’ll ask: Why do you play basketball?
I mean, really.
Why do you play?
Why did you take the physical, spend hundreds on the new kicks and run until you puked during preseason conditioning?
Why did you show up Monday for the first official high school practice?
Why do you play?
As you ponder that question, let me offer three things you better NOT be playing for:
1) Your family — Don’t play because your dad or your mom hooped back in the day. That was THEIR passion. If it isn’t YOURS, don’t let them force it on you and live through you. It will lead to a lot of bad days on the court — and even more at home.
2) A girl or guy — Yeah, it’s cool to date the captain of the cheerleaders or have your school’s quarterback watch you play from the front row — just don’t let that be your reason for joining the team. If your play is the reason they’re dating you, drop the drama now — it’s just a disaster waiting to happen. And if you’re dating THEM because of what THEY do at school, that’s another blog altogether.
3) To earn a scholarship — You can’t focus on that outcome and not feel a tremendous pressure to perform. If it happens, it will be a byproduct of your efforts on the floor. And if it doesn’t? Do you really want your career to be defined only by that standard?
When played well, basketball is a beautiful game — jazz-like, rythmic and fluid. There’s a certain joy and sense of awe that comes with simply setting foot on the court.
I hope — I really hope — that you’ll get to experience the “sacred time and space” that former Pitt and Westminster coach Buzz Ridl used to speak of. It’s been years since I played at the high school level, yet I still feel it every time I walk into a gym.
That said, here are just a few of the reasons I think you should slip on the school colors this year. I believe if you keep these things in mind as the season progresses, you’ll have an unforgettable experience — no matter what the scoreboard says.
•The ball bouncing — The sound is like a magnet. I STILL can’t contain myself when I hear a basketball bouncing somewhere. I just want to yell “Next” and jump in there. I’ve got to play.
•The swish of the net — Clean, pure and true. It’s indisputable proof that you squared your hips, finished high, closed with a pose and nailed your shot.
•The squeak of the sneakers — It means someone is cutting or pivoting or screening or getting after it on defense — ballin’ out!
•The front of your uniform — You are representing your school and your community. Over the years thousands of students have walked the halls but you are among a select few to earn a spot on the team. It’s a privilege and an honor. Don’t take it lightly.
•The back of your uniform — If you’re willing to put your name to ANYTHING, do it with excellence. No excuses.
•Your brothers and sisters — Look around in the huddle. You’ve grown up with your teammates. You’ve laughed and ate and played video games. There’s a good chance you’ve even experienced some sadness together. I’m guessing you love SOMEONE on your team like family. Don’t ever let them down because you don’t feel like going hard.
•Your platform — Even though basketball can bring indescribable joy, don’t let the game define you. Basketball is what you DO — not who you ARE.
Your position on the roster will, however, place a spotlight on you. Your attitude, effort and teamwork will be on display for all to see. THAT’S who you are.
As I noted earlier, success is not an accident.
Success is actually a choice.
So, are the habits you’re creating during today’s practice in line with your dreams for March?
If not, then I have to ask the question again: Why do you play?
The ball’s in your court now.
Think about it. Then give that answer your best shot.
NEW CASTLE —
Why do you play?
- Tim Kolodziej
Tim Kolodziej: What is your definition of The Dream?
Johnnyswim. I know, I know. Me neither. I had no idea what that word meant until a couple of months ago, when a friend of mine on Twitter was absolutely gushing about a great concert he had just seen.
Tim Kolodziej: LeBron’s return, and his essay, can teach us plenty
So there’s this guy LeBron. You may have heard of him. He plays basketball for a living. He also writes essays. Writes them very, very well, as a matter of fact. Last week, he put pen to paper to explain why he’s returning home to play again for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Tim Kolodziej: Our problems really aren’t THE problem
“So, WHAT do you do?” A simple question that’s probably been asked thousands of times this summer over barbecue or a burger. Simple answers, too.
Tim Kolodziej: What will your house look like?
So I’m about halfway through a book called “Burn Your Goals.” It’s a compilation of motivational thoughts and strategies written by Joshua Medcalf and Jamie Gilbert, two former soccer standouts who now conduct mental training for athletes, coaches and entrepreneurs.
Tim Kolodziej: Coaching is often thankless, so let me say ‘thank you’
As the sun sets on another youth baseball season, let me be the first to say “thank you” to all the rec league coaches within reading distance. For everything. And I do mean everything.
Tim Kolodziej: Noll’s words of wisdom leave Super legacy
When Sports Illustrated asked Steelers coach Chuck Noll how he would like to be remembered, he answered, simply: “Most of all a teacher. Put down that I was a teacher.”
Tim Kolodziej: Thanks to social media, 'weird' is becoming the new normal
With a brief, hand-written message, rapper Lecrae broke the ice to announce a new album called “Anomaly.” Little did he know it would inspire thousands of others to warm up to the notion that it’s OK to not be OK. At least in the world's eyes.
Tim Kolodziej: Go ahead, graduates, and swing for the fence
Nobody asked me, but if I had to offer a few morsels of wisdom to the class of 2014, I would start with this: Life is a lot like a little league baseball game. It really is.
Tim Kolodziej: Do you wanna be like Mike? Here’s how
Ever heard of Brett Nichols? He’s the kid you probably saw on the Internet or on TV at some point during the past week.
Yes, THAT kid. The Michael Jackson kid.
Tim Kolodziej: Thank you, Coach Ziggy, for giving me wings
It’s called the Butterfly Effect. I know. Don’t feel bad. I had never heard of it either until a few weeks ago. The term stems from a doctoral thesis written in 1963 by Edward Lorenz. And it's powerful.
- More Tim Kolodziej Headlines
- Tim Kolodziej: What is your definition of The Dream?