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April 5, 2016

Still Standing in March

Still Standing in March

TEAM TUESDAY – Here’s the last piece on Geno and UConn, for a while anyway. They just hit a big three to end the first quarter. I’m back in NYC watching the game in my apartment. And I can’t get this passage in his book out of my head.

In his book, In Pursuit of Perfection, there’s a quote by Diana “Dee” Taurasi in response to a question asked about her relationship with Geno at the end of her college career.

“Every single day he hits you and he hits you and he hits you. And, if you are still standing in March, he’ll embrace you.”

In how many jobs in this country is your boss allowed to be this demanding without getting fired? How many bosses work this hard? Believe that much in their employees? How many make it this personal?

How badly did I want someone to hit me and hit me and hit me with the purpose, with the intent, of making me better than I ever thought I could be? How badly should I have wanted to be around an extraordinary leader like Geno who gives it everything he has without ever letting up?

Most 17-year-olds get so buried in the recruiting process that they lose sight of what leadership can do for you as an athlete and a person for the rest of your life. We are told to think in terms of academics, the proper major, the geographic upside of the university, the size of the school.

But what about leadership? Leadership that says you are either going to be revealed as one of the greatest or exposed as someone who cannot take the heat.

You can say what you want about the incredible talent of Rebecca Lobo, Jen Rizotti, Nakisha Sales, Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart and many more.

Yet it’s Geno that is the thread that holds them together. His program and his teams seem to keep getting better.

I can’t help but sit here and look at the players on the end of the bench who aren’t seeing time and wonder what this feels like.

I don’t know what it would feel like to be Stewie as much as it would feel like to be the kid who won’t get on the floor tonight. What I do know is something that I do think is fair.

At the very least, if you ever are with a player who’s made it this far in any sport or in any art form – applaud them for devoting so much of their life to their passion. Don’t be that one who googles the player and says, “He never got any minutes” or “He barely played.” If you’ve ever been around someone who took what are supposed to be the happiest days of their lives, and put them in the hands of someone who demands perfection every minute, and they feel like they’ve failed or were outplayed or they got hurt, give them respect for having the guts to see if they could still be standing in March.