New Castle News

Tim Kolodziej

May 3, 2012

Tim Kolodziej: Hall of Famers share some valuable lessons

NEW CASTLE — If you’re a young athlete or a coach and you’ve got questions, I’ve got some answers.

Well, I don’t actually have any, but I’ve taken some pretty good notes from those who do and I can’t wait to share them with you now.

If you couldn’t make it to Sunday’s banquet honoring this year’s inductees into the Lawrence County Historical Society Sports Hall of Fame, this blog is for you.

The New Englander proved to be a classroom of sorts, as the 12 men and women shared heartfelt stories, motivational thoughts and plenty of tears. They also provided answers to four crucial questions every young athlete might ask.

Read on. Then pass it on.

Who should I listen to?

•Your parents.

•Your coaches.

•Friends, neighbors and relatives who have gone before you.

Without exception, that was the key message from each Hall of Fame inductee. They’ve been there. They’ve done that. They’ve seen it firsthand.

It makes perfect sense: What’s a more palatable teaching tool than the pain of your experience? The pain of someone else’s experience.

The lesson: If you’ve got mentors, family members or coaches who are willing to speak into your life, don’t waste their wisdom.

Listen well.

Then do.

How should I practice?

Former New Castle basketball coach John Sarandrea shared three numbers that his teams used to feature on their T-shirts — “3-7-12.”

That phrase stands for “three hours a day, seven days a week, 12 months a year.”

That’s doin’ work.

Sarandrea referred to studies showing that it takes about 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert at your craft.

As I’ve written before, I agree — to a point.

Yes, practice must be consistent. Yes, practice must be deliberate. But I won’t go as far as saying you MUST practice 21 hours a week to become great. If your first hour of practice today is fantastic, yet the second hour is just OK because of fatigue or a lack of focus, did you really practice for two hours today?

You would have been better off taking a nap during Hour 2.

The lesson: Putting in the hours is important. But even more important is what you put into those hours. The key words to remember: Consistent, focused, deliberate — beneficial.

Why do I play or coach?

For the love.

It really is that simple.

If you’re a player, you chase your dreams because you love the game. You chase titles because you love to win. You chase down loose balls, pucks and running backs because you love your teammates and coaches.

If you’re a coach, you do it for love as well.

My theory? The most successful coaches don’t coach because they love the game. They coach because they love the players.

The lesson: If you don’t truly love it, leave it. You’re just wasting everyone’s time.

What’s really important in life?

God, Dad, Mom, family, teammates.

Each of the 12 honorees on Sunday paid tribute to at least two from those categories during their speeches.

As important as sports were to each of them, they all understood that their seasons in the spotlight were temporary.

And they never would have achieved such great heights without someone driving them to practice and games, without support and guidance, without a shoulder to cry on and, most important, without a Creator giving them athletic ability in the first place.

The lesson: Young athletes, your talent is a gift. Enjoy it. Develop it. Share it. But it’s not meant to be your identity. If you live to be 80, chances are you’ll spend at least 72 of those years not playing at a high level.

Parents, if your child loves sports and you never took an interest in them as a youngster, now is a great time to jump in. Support, chauffeur, play catch in the back yard, watch games together on TV. Take full advantage of the time you can spend together. Take full advantage of all that can be learned on the fields of play.

Just do it quickly. Athletic careers end way too fast.

But, as the Hall of Fame inductees so wisely noted, the memories and lessons learned are timeless.

And definitely worth sharing.


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Tim Kolodziej