MOTIVATIONAL MONDAY – Kim Mulkey, head coach of Baylor University, just tossed her jacket. The refs gave her a T. I’m not sure if it was her player who made her get that hot or a bad or missed call. The toss of her jacket will be all over Sports Center. And hopefully they’ll also include this about Kim Mulkey:
Kim Mulkey is the first person in NCAA history to win a basketball national championship as a player, assistant coach and head coach.
There are a few things that I miss more than anything as I watch these games in preparation for the Final Four trip this weekend.
- Losing myself out there. I lost myself in the only place I wanted to be on Friday nights and Sundays in college. If you ask me my favorite team, I can’t answer you. Why? Because it was always the team I was playing on. Watching the Boston Celtics or going to AAU practice on a Friday night – no brainer. My favorite team right now is Mo’ Motion, Northwestern or any team like our friends at Milbank who regularly rip their hearts out – every one of them. Look at these young women and men out there this month wearing the colors of their classmates and alumni. All eyes, all hopes, all the pressure is on them. It’s so loud that they can’t hear their coach, each other or even their own thoughts. Madness is a zone like no other, and I am rooting for all of them to fully pour every ounce of their positive selves into every moment because you cannot get it back.
- Letting it cut to the bone. I miss how personal it always was and always will be. They’re personal moments because you have spent a good portion of your life vested in your dream – some more than others. Several have overcome personal hardship and academic struggles as well as physical, mental and emotional pain. I moan at the stories and pros that say in the workplace one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to make it personal or take it personally. It’s true when it comes to rating one’s success. Most athletes like to see a score or else they’re going to have a hard time feeling like they’re truly ahead. It’s apparently okay to take goal-setting and achievement in a personal manner, but not okay when it comes to hiring, managing and firing. Yet even in some of those difficult circumstances, when someone in your company really goes too far or runs down a dishonest path and sees nothing but I in TEAM, it is tough to make an argument that it is not personal. That’s what keeps you up at night on the replay after replay running through your mind – what could I have done better? In the workplace, it’s often hard to answer. It’s often not you – it’s them. On the court, it’s very clear. The individual accountability, the stats, the score, the rankings – it is all very clear what I could have done better, what we could have done better. And what is so tough for us as former athletes is that your coach regularly ripped you a new one – as did your assistant coach – and even sometimes your friends – and it was par for the course. In the workplace, you raise your voice and the HR police are on it. I actually don’t like to lead that way in the office (it’s not like running a team), yet I have to say how extremely effective it can be when your boss, who is taking things to a very personal level, makes it very clear to you that this is in fact, personal. As a supervisor or manager at work, you have to pick your moments.
- Witnessing excellence. I miss seeing the personal development of my friends, opponents and everyone around me. I knew I loved the game when I saw one of my teammates do something I’d never seen her do before, or when I saw her do something so I just walked by the TV and said, “Oh, great move” and the player missed. Still a great move. That kid from Syracuse last night who picked up that awesome offensive board, then faked the big-guy on the kick-out pass – and he scored – that was just so next level. Crafty, creative, so smart – so awesome. I love hearing the commentators see what I see. I love sitting here watching Rebecca Lobo and Kara Lawson go from outstanding players to running the show in the broadcast studio.
And what’s better than sitting here thinking of a different way to say, “Love of the Game,” and seeing and hearing Billie Jean King doing her spot on an NCAA commercial about the greatest piece of it all. We as female athletes didn’t sign up for the money. Billie Jean didn’t. Kim Mulkey didn’t. We just found something wherein we lost ourselves to the point that we’d do anything to give our best effort time and time again.