Today, was a “family fun day” as my wife called it or as my students said, “You are playing hookie!”
In whichever lens you look at this through (I had to explain to my students was a personal day was) today, my wife, daughter, and I made the trek to Iowa City to watch the Iowa Women’s Basketball Team open the NCAA Tournament against Mercer.
It was a fun exciting game from start to finish. Iowa is a #2 seed, and in the women’s game, they get to host the opening round of the tournament. We talked back and forth, and finally, pulled the trigger to purchase ticket. Melissa’s aunt lives down here, so free room and board, plus, it’s Iowa City! So many things to do and see. AND, it’s was 55 degrees with NO SNOW!
Iowa played well below their potential, and with four minutes left, found themselves tied with the scrappy team from Mercer, 59 – 59. From that point forward, Iowa outscored the Bears 7 – 2 en route to a 66 – 61 final. Iowa’s star player, Megan Gustafson, was just dominate, as we expect her to be. 30 points, 16 rebounds, shooting 14 – 16 from the field. The woman is a machine, and one of the reasons we are down here is to see her play. She’s got one more home game, and hopefully a few more beyond that as her career comes to a close.
I’m writing about this because, as a slicer, I like to look at my story. I went to college with thoughts a being a high school social studies teacher and a football coach. I did my practicum coaching JV and varsity kids. My here I am, a sixth grade teacher coaching 8th grade girls basketball?? Thank goodness! I love my middle schoolers, and cannot ever picture a time where being in high school would have felt good. As for football over basketball, don’t get me wrong, I still love football. However, I started out in schools (Alaska and Missouri) that simply didn’t have football teams. My wife and I were hired to coach girls and I never looked back. If girls (young women) know you care, and you build the relationship, they will run through walls for you. I’ve experienced this again and again throughout my career. Sometimes, I wonder if the coaching that influences the teaching or the teaching that influences the coaching, because it’s all about the damn relationships!
As a coach, I watch these Iowa women play, they play with such a joy and passion, it just makes me want to find a team and keep at it. When they were behind, they drew from the energy of the crowd, and when there was a momentum turn, they, as a team rose up and took control. There were over 10,000 people in Hawkeye Carver Arena, and there were times I couldn’t hear myself think! It was an amazing atmosphere, one I hope we see Sunday when they play for a trip to the Sweet Sixteen. These games inspire me to be a better coach and a better teacher.
As for coaching my 8th graders, I feel rejuvenated and ready to coach again (season got done in early February). I miss it, I miss the teaching on the floor, and miss (not so much) the traveling when those relationships are built between coach and player, coach and parent, and player and player.
And remember, it’s all about those relationships! 🙂