FIRE UP FRIDAY – I walked into a grade 8 vs. grade 9-10 mix of Lime vs. Lime players in an all Motion match-up last week. It was so enjoyable to see the work of many people pay off – the players, parents, coaches – even the referees enjoy watching the way our kids play.
I remember the first time I met the twins, Maya and Julia, now grade 8, after their dad reached out for a private session. We met on the quaint, well-maintained side hoop of St. John the Divine. I could tell right away that they had a pep in their step and they loved the game. Even when I was breaking down all of their bad habits, they did not break down. I told Jules she had to think of herself last if she wanted to be really good. I told Halley she had to think of herself and shoot more. Their backcourt partner and triplet is Maya, who has been hooping with us since grade 2. Maya had to work on taking care of that ball like it’s her cell phone. I met Caroline and Nora through their older sisters. Nora, much like her dad, never tires and likes to be a physical defender. Caroline, not so much – not until this season when she decided to take her skinny bones and put as much force behind them as possible. She surprised herself so much that she then added an occasional three-pointer to her game. The third in their trio is Anna Morris, who has improved at bumping up her game while setting the bar for her little sister Marguerite, who is now eating up our grade 4 league.
We added four to five more girls to this core of six players – none of them big or burly, but they just get things clicking and we play them with the all grade 8 group or we mix them with the smaller group of grade 9-10. After just a few moments, you watch confidence pass to the new girls. You see that they’re not only learning how to manage a team and situations or a clock, but they’re learning to be leaders in everything they do.
Everyone wants to play with these girls. Why? It’s not because they’re just better than everyone else.
It’s because they have simply and consistently done the work.
Granted the twins and Maya have always been more coordinated than the other girls, but not by a long shot. There’s also a good chance that the girls won’t grow that much more, but it doesn’t seem to bother them from loving every second of the challenge each game. The girls are committed. Their families are committed. Yet they aren’t overdosing on basketball. While taking on a consistently rigorous academic load and playing other sports at school and on weekends, they’re learning and playing the game the way it should be played. And they’re getting a balanced diet of weak basketball on their school teams, okay basketball thanks to a sprinkling of other camps and clinics, and ideal basketball with us because not only are we training them to all be point guards, but we’re giving them stiff competition in grades 8 and grades 9-10 games that always keeps things interesting. And we’re looking into options for the future to keep them all where they need to be with just the right balance of hoops, school, family and life.
No matter what is thrown at them – a high school girls’ team, a boys’ team, a weak team – these Mo’ Motion Lime girls and all of their teammates 1) never make excuses and 2) they play as hard as they can. When kids consistently do this, they are not only a joy to coach, but they are so coachable that any one of our coaches on our staff can walk into a huddle. The coaches know right away that the girls speak our language.
I’ve said nothing about their won-loss record or my expectations for this team and their outstanding coach, Coach Kristin. And I know Jules will take several turns trying to do a little too much or take too many chances on D without proper footwork. I know Maya will toss that ball to the other team a few times too many and Caroline may slightly hesitate before throwing her body into a girl twice her width. I also know that all of them know how to make a mistake and immediately bounce back. It’s not just me who knows it either. It’s the parents, the refs, the opposing teams.
It’s just a lot of fun for us to all be in a gym together to see a team of feisty, accountable girls loving what they do.