I’ve been blessed of the last couple of years to have teams who have been gifted with some amazing talent, and their records have reflected this. Basketball has come easy to these girls and it shows.
Walking into this season was an unknown. These were girls I’d had in class 15 days as 7th graders last year, girls who were pretty new to me. I’d watched them play last year, but it seemed last most of them grew three inches over the summer, so I had no idea what to expect.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I’ve been the “relationship guy” (I know, let it be) and had to work on those relationships with kids I’ve not had a lot of experience with. I’ve had to teach a lot more. The last two teams that came through, I could have just rolled a ball out, let them practice, then gone to games and played. This group has required more teaching of technique, of thought process, of how to “play” the game. And I love it. It’s hard, it’s mentally challenging, and I’m sad the season is done on December 20th, at least for our middle school team. Our club team will play through February 2nd.
They are my refuge from when 6th grade gets crazy. Yes, they are 8th grade girls, but they want to be there, they want to get better, and they want to learn. As I’ve said before, I love going to school because it’s not a job. With a team like this, it makes getting up in the morning even more easy.
My question: how do we keep them interested after 8th grade? My really good 8th grade team of two years ago was 8 girls, now it’s down to three. My really good team last year has gone from 9 girls to 6. You cannot build a program with an attrition rate like that.
But then again, I’m just a middle school coach, my opinions really don’t matter outside my tiny little sphere of influence, and I should just be happy with what I have.