This is about 1500 words and is a lot about me, so I wasn’t going to put it in on the RP web site with my other coachish ramblings, but upon further review I think there is a message that coaches might hear that could be useful.
The order of the words in STUDENT ATHLETE, cannot ever be the other way
I am, almost proudly, a Grumpy Old Man. Grump is my ‘go juice’ I suppose, and maybe it always has been. It does not take much for my Grumpy Old Coach to kick in. Well, here I am! I want to set a record or two straight on a few historical notes while I’m at it. I apologize if what is written below offends anyone, and I do ramble on sooo, but I am absolutely not sorry about any of what I write.
I was poking around all the current college lax stuff on line today. In a recent MCLA article on the MCLA web page, one previewing the 10th ranked (pre-season) Colorado State Rams, it says that the Rams “missed the MCLA playoffs in 2015 for the first time in more than ten years”. I want to clarify that. We/CSU NEVER “missed” the playoffs from 1998 to when I left in 2012 after fifteen years coaching at CSU. We did not make it only in my first year. The BYU ‘fix’ was in that year, but we were absolutely not worthy either and it was just 12 teams (8?). No matter, I didn’t like the way we were ‘dissed’ and got a head start on hating on BYU and all the stuff they did have, and on Provo, because I could not stand to be in the Mormon Mecca upon my very first visit.
So, that would be CSU NEVER missed the tournament, and for most years we were pretty much a #4 or higher seed in what quickly became a 16-team National Championship tournament. Look it up cause I’m not so great with all those details. But, in fact and for sure from 1999 to 2006 we played in every final/championship game in Division I College Club Lacrosse, winning four and coming in the dreaded “second place” three times. I do not fault the article. They think we did not make it in 2005, and yes it is true that we did not go, but to say we did not ‘make it’ would be false. There is no way they could really know the details of this stuff of course, and perhaps I am harping on some kind of technicality, even if it is truth, but here I go.
HICCUP OR BELCH?
In 2005 (the year perhaps in question) we (CSU) did not MISS it, we were the #1 seed going to the Championships that were about to be held in Minnesota until right before we left, when it was discovered that one of our Captains had not had a sufficient academic hours/class load in order to be eligible to play. The red line through two of the roster names came on the second eligibility check late in the season. The first one had been a ‘clean’ sheet. Captain Ram and one other dude had dropped a class or whatever. Everyone wanted me to take it to court, sure that we would get the pass and be allowed to compete. Others had done it, so there was precedent. Had it been the one, and he knows who he is, I would have fought to go, because I would not have gone down with that one, but the other guilty individual was one of our Captains, a/the player that you want your team to be LED by. This part of it was, and still is not acceptable to me. I chose for us to cancel all the travel, etc. and stay home. I did not confer with too many, maybe just Kale my Assistant. I made the not-so-easy choice. It is on me.
We played some doozies with the Santa Barbara Gauchos over the years, fueled somewhat by the fact that I had come to Fort Collins from Santa Barbara, where I lived and had been rejected twice for the Head Coaching position before setting sail for the Fort in Colorado and sort of going back to my Rocky Mountain lax roots.
We won in ’03, and UCSB won in ’04, and they repeated in ’05. UCSB was the only team we ever played two times in the Championship game. Could have easily become 3 times. For the record, the 2005 CSU Ram team was certainly one of our most talented, but far from my favorite group of kids that I coached lo those many years, which made the following year of 2006 in Dallas so great, because I absolutely loved that 2006 team, they had leadership, and they had chemistry.
After that very sad time in 2005, I always felt that UCSB should have sent me a thank you note after they won the ensuing 2005 National Championship so they could in fact go back to back Jack in 2004. They knew going in that the CSU Rams were the biggest challenge for that very talented group of Gauchos. We spanked them in 2006 in Carson, California, and they were not a happy group of Gauchos that day. They came unglued and then our Goalie Pete ripped out their heart….
LET ME IN ON THE JOKISCH every time
In many ways all that pain in ‘05 was almost worth it, because the determination that the next team showed in WINNING IT ALL in Dallas in 2006 was worth waiting for as far as I am concerned, save for a few seniors who got screwed by the ‘05 situation, and I will forever feel badly about two or three CSU greats that lost out on their best opportunity to get a ring. We had no eligibility issues after that, however, I can assure you. The leadership that next year of 2006 (Pete Jokisch, et al) was so fabulous that sometimes I almost felt guilty because it almost seemed too easy to get that particular team ready to play and motivated to do something big. I do not regret any of how I dealt with events of the time. I would not change what I did, even 11 years after.
What a difference a year can make, right? I think Jason Lamb (BYU Head Coach then) to this day still can’t believe we beat his BYU Cougars in the 2006 National semifinals because I secretly think he thought that was his best BYU team ever, and they had beaten us 11-8 in the regular season. The Cougars did in fact win it all the next year in 2007 in Dallas. However, and like it or not, we just won that 2006 National Championship semifinal game with them like it was our job (with ease, 12-7).
KNOCK KNOCK (WHOSE THERE?)
For good measure, we ran on the field that night led by #00 carrying and waving a great big Pirate flag (Bam Bam you the Man), and I was wearing a Pirate hat the team brought me (How dare I?). Not exactly Cam Newtonesque, but some thought we were disrespecting the game (Really?) when we embraced the whole Pirate thing. To them BYUers we were Pirates, as in we were there to steal their stuff and rape their women. Maybe we were and true that I was not getting interviewed on BYU TV every week or have Jason’s perfect hair (or any hair actually). I did not fly out there to scout them as he did us a lot. I Didn’t have to anyway because they were on BYU TV all the time, but I would never have flown out to Provo to do anything I did not absolutely have to. BTW, I must admit that I wasn’t the greatest recruiter either……One day I will reveal my one and only line for recruiting and recruits.
Well, the BYU wives read my on-line CSU Coach’s Journal religiously (no play on words intended), they wrote to me, and those ladies were the ones that gave us the moniker of PIRATES, not us. They brought Pirate razzing signage to games and stuff like that. Our players didn’t have wives so much, and I would say that too many of our boys probably couldn’t even get a meaningful date. For me, BYU was in turn the ‘Evil Empire’ to be conquered. It was a whole lot of fun for us. BYU vs. CSU in my time was a most wonderful rivalry, one that I would never trade for anything. I loved how good they were. With Lamb as coach they always set the bar for MCLA excellence.
SELF DISCIPLINE BLEW ‘PROTOCOL’ OUT OF THE WATER IN 2006
I look at the 2006 team in celebration mode after winning that tight 8-7 Championship game. I have the photo thumb tacked (sorry) on the wall right next to my desk every day and it warms me even now. That was a joyful team moment. When that team played it often looked like everyone ‘knew it’ before anyone had to actually say it much of the time, the ultimate (for me) illustration of being on the same page. It happens when they connect and are clear on ‘what we do’ in most all situations, not just waiting for instructions from ‘above. They often looked like they did not need a coach. We used a lot of hand signals when possible. I love them as coach, because you can always get an answer/acknowledgment/connection when they (players) do the same visual thing in reply. We won 50-50 balls, we backed up, we beat teams on substitution efficiency because the Rammies were aware of situation and they hustled. Players do not have to be individually “gifted” to do these things, and all the little fundamental stuff like that stacks up against the very best/talented teams, witness that particular 12-7 win over BYU. Many guys on that 2006 Ram team went on to do some pretty cool things, too.
I took off the Pirate hat off to actually coach that night in Dallas in 2006. I could not yell at a ref or whatever wearing a Pirate hat after all. That would have been too much, but I still have the hat and it still looks pretty new. I do not recall a 2006 Championship t-shirt. I do remember a sky blue one they had made up that said absolutely nothing. It wasn’t far past undershirt kind of cotton t, hardly schwag. On the front was a picture of my head wearing the pirate hat.
We made the semis in 2007 before losing to an excellent Oregon team by one and they in turn lost to BYU the next day. It was a pretty good run that year too, though, especially since U. of Oregon had killed us early on.
THEY STILL DO ‘I DO’S’ TOGETHER
None of them (2006 team) can get married without 15-20 that played together on that team (and some of their parents) showing up for the festivities, wherever they might be happening. Happens a lot through all the years. Ah, FAMILY RAMILY!
STILL HOPING FOR ANOTHER ‘EPOCH’ JOURNEY
We were back in the semifinals in 2011 until we fell apart in that semifinal vs. you guessed it, BYU. We let a Cougar in ‘our’ head that night in the big Colorado Rapids soccer stadium in Denver. We came back to win it all again in 2012, beating Cal Poly for the ring in Greenville. After that I took my final step away from CSU coaching. In 2013 the team went undefeated to complete back to back National Championships. I never did either, no undefeated, no back to back, but I took some pride in the accomplishments of the undefeated team in 2013 anyway. I was still pretty familiar with that bunch, a great group and a great team that also had pretty great leadership.
We have taken a team of CSUers to Vail the last couple of years to compete in that Grandaddy summer lax tournament, and the name the boys on the team chose to go by was, of course, PIRATES!
RESPECT YOUR OPPONENT
I think one of the very simple great things a coach can do for his team is to create an environment where you always respect your opponent. Any one person and any team can have that mindset or mantra and that can empower a team. Team dynamics simply work better when you always really look at your opponent, whether it is the best team on the planet or the worst team you will play all year. Either way other teams practice and take pride in what they work at, too.
TWEET THIS, TWEETIE
A coach must fight for his team no doubt, and this might require yelling sometimes. Coaches can scream at officials and their judgment on many call/non-call possibilities in a game, or coaches can choose those battles carefully and have some sort of personal protocol that never hurts the team. Better yet, helps.
KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE AND YOUR ENEMIES even CLOSER (Godfather/mafioso proverb)
It does not help a coach or team to antagonize the zebras and bureaucrats in any coaching world. Does a coach need more havoc? It would seem that a lot of that valuable coaching energy and brainpower might be easily budgeted into coaching-a-team-up in the moment time that can really help in game situations.
CITY HALL with a ball, TOO
THE NAME GAME
Thursday, January 28
A POCKET FULL OF COINS (you can make them jingle)
For a team to connect, position lax players don’t have to be all the same as one another. In fact the richness and color of the game is in full bloom when different roles and styles link up out on the field. As a group they do in fact need a single TEAM mindset, and when put together right (players of different kinds that is), they can create infinite ways to connect on the lacrosse ‘grid’. Lax team building can always serve as a great frontier for overachievement with the game itself spiritually and traditionally being what it is, and having its very wide variety of roles and possibilities that are right there, built in, and available for a player/team to discover and then USE.
For me, a team recipe that has always worked for me get connected from the inside out. It is easier said than done. Players must take pride in and prioritize the effort to hook up with one another more than they need to think about almost anything, and for sure more than obsessing over the outcomes (goals scored by ME), and wishing for happy endings (winning). The more a team imposes its will on the proceedings of any game, the more predictable the finality of a scoreboard will then become. Winning is the result of achieving goals set, not just the ones scored. It is not enough for winning to be the only goal (for me).
BANANA-FANNA-BO-BANNA (name game)
Again, for me, the X’s and O’s become more important, more precise, and I suppose more complex, once we get our team and individual ABC’s down pat, or at least mostly ‘up to snuff’. What I mean for example, and I mean this for any level of play, is that you can always dodge one v. one to score no doubt, but you can’t really run a play on offense that involves more than one or two players in lacrosse if the ball is rolling around on the ground. Also, it is hard enough for 6 kids (or anythings) to link up in a truly meaningful way, but if there is even a tiny lack of fundamental skill to the whatever calculated play action going on, there can be a wide variety of ways for team to get, shall we say, tongue-tied and out of sync. .
LOVE AT FIRST ‘SITE’
As a kid I did not really aspire to becoming a coach one day just because I was just so ‘busy’ being a ‘player’, thinking about ME just then. When I began to coach right out of college, it was more or less because I was asked to do it, but there can be no doubt that once I took my first glance back at me while coaching, my follow up double-take, probably on day 2, was the look of love, because I never thought about being or becoming a coach any day after that first day. In my mind a coach was there every time I looked in the mirror after that. Along my coaching path I have looked for and stolen as much good coaching stuff as I could from many other coaches.
THE WIZARD OF WESTWOOD
I learned much while admiring and watching John Wooden and his basketball success at UCLA in the 60’s and 70’s. Over time I read everything he wrote on the subject of coaching. He took a very philosophical approach to coaching and being a Coach. He headed to the west coast and to Westwood/L.A. later in his coaching career, God knows how. It almost doesn’t fit with his Midwest, small town sort of teaching background. He went to college at Purdue University in Indiana in the 1930’s and I think he taught high school and coached at that level for some time. Coach Wooden’s attention to detail was extraordinary, and he lived to be about 100 years old to boot. I knew I would/could never be exactly Woodenesque, but as a young coach I was very impressed by him and with his approach. That was true even though he was already pretty much old at the time when I was young. Of course his unmatched success of, like 11 NCAA Championships at UCLA was pretty much a magnet for me, too. I often quoted him when I coached. “Be Quick, Don’t Hurry!” was one I often used. He sort of simplified and purified all the aspects of first becoming and then to continue being great as a team. Anyone that ever saw him in action would never say that Coach Wooden ever made it all about John Wooden. He was pretty ‘chill’ in demeanor. In-game timeouts looked more like a class than say, the middle of a National Championship game. UCLA under Wooden never lacked for talent. That is truth, but players first and foremost loved him during and after their time at UCLA, and that (building love) always seemed to be like a good place to start in any year and in any of my coaching endeavors.
Another Coach, one that you might say motivated me was Bobby Knight, another basketball coach. He headed up Indiana U. for a long time, and he coached the last undefeated team in Division I NCAA basketball over 30 years ago. Coach K., still at Duke and holding the all-time record for coaching victories, began his coaching career as an assistant under Knight when they were at Army in the sixties or early seventies. Bob Knight was demanding. I think all great coaches need to be, but Knight was more about stressing fundamentals and the execution thereof than he was about how the players put on their socks or if they liked him. He was intimidated by nothing. No one could ever say that Bob Knight was not pretty much all about BOB KNIGHT. He was almost always yelling at officials and was never shy about screaming at his team when they did not do fundamental things well. He is/was famous for many basketball things, but nothing drew attention to him more than a single ‘incident’. In a lost moment of anger when Knight was completely unhappy with the current situation, he just got up and tossed his chair out and across the floor of the arena during a game and in front of thousands, while millions watched it on TV. Presumably he wanted to let everyone fully understand how he felt at that particular moment. Old folks like me remember it I am sure, but I would bet that almost no one remembers why he did it and what prompted it; only that he did do it, and I daresay that single act was a signature moment that became a larger part of his legacy than the National Championships he brought to Bloomington.
THE YIN AND THE YANG
I do not think that all the players that played for Bobby Knight loved him, and I do not think that was ever any part of his coaching equation or schematic. He did things routinely that nowadays would get him suspended or fired. The late 20th century was indeed a different era in terms of overall social tolerance from what it is now, but he would get in the face of any player when he felt the need to do so, and surely grabbed more than one by the shirt to bring that player’s face even closer to the coach’s as he read whoever the kid was the riot act of the moment. He demanded excellence in a very different way from the mostly soft-spoken Wooden. His timeouts were more theater than strategy. The body language of the two coaches could not have been more different, but at the end of the day I was inspired by Knight’s passion for the game, and his ability to get players to execute as individuals and as a unit, so I suppose I was a coaching oxymoron from the word go. I have been called the second part of that word, oxyMORON, many times anyway. So what was wrong with little old me? No one could ever want to be like both Wooden and Knight! The two are fundamentally different in all ways, night and day, day and Knight as it were. Too bad, I liked and learned from both.
Another basketball coach I stole freely from was Jerry Tarkanian at UNLV, “Tark the Shark” as he was known. Most opposing coaches didn’t like him and thought he was a ‘cheater’. His teams had enormous talent in the early nineties. The tempo the Runnin’ Rebels played with (breakneck pace), and some of the types of drills that he used in practice really caught my eye, and I tried to borrow and crossover as much as I could to the way I coach lacrosse and the things I did in practice. I never chewed on a towel like he constantly did during games, however. I did carry a stick in the coaches box and expressed plenty of my emotions through the ‘wand’ and how tightly I held it, banged the end cap, etc. Tark was a ‘gym rat’ of the highest coaching order. This always counts for something in my book. Players loved him. Everyone else in the college basketball world hated him, and tried to get him caught cheating, etc.
WHAT DOES BO KNOW? Plenty!
I think the greatest compliment I ever heard for any coach was something that a former football player at Michigan said about his college FB coach, Bo Schembechler years later when the guy was playing pro. I confess that I grew up rooting against Bo and the University of Michigan because my dad went to Ohio State (Woody Hayes), and if one goes to one of those schools it was their duty to ‘hate on’ the other. Football was king. Overall, I did my part with the ‘hating’ on the University of coaching style or anything like that, but even though I rooted for OSU (family), the Ohio State coach, Woody Hayes was a total psychopath, and I TOTALLY never wanted to be that guy, and even though OSU won most often in that contentious annual, last game of the season for the trip to the Rose Bowl game, I know I would not have liked to play for Woodie. That rivalry game was once in fact one of the seven wonders in my world growing up simply because it was so incredibly fierce. The fact that those two coaches (Woody and Bo) openly disliked and were openly contentious toward one another and the pre-game rhetoric was never all the politically safe ‘coach speak’ of today. That game isn’t any of that anymore, except perhaps the last game of the season. They say it is a rivalry, but with the trending recent mediocrity Michigan has shown it has been a rivalry in name only. Looks like that is about to change. Anyway, what the player said about his college coach, Bo Scembechler, has always stuck with me. He was complimenting Bo as a football coach, and what he said was something like, “If Bo didn’t have an All American at a certain position one year, he just got someone else to play like one”. That isn’t always possible of course, but it sure seemed like the right aspiration, as in, wouldn’t any coach like to hear that from an ex-player? It sure rung a bell for me. I had that quote, from an old newspaper clip, posted above my desk for years. I liked it partly because I think a coach can’t really make that happen. I think only that a coach can let it happen by creating the space and a place that allows for that to occur. It is a dynamic, and it is far beyond any kind of “next man up” thinking, although that is also a tremendously effective mind set for any team. What I see nowadays is coaches that far too often are so actively searching for the ‘silver bullet’ of success that the word ‘potential’ for things outside of the box has lost some of its meaning. Everyone must do what Canadians do, or what D.U. does, etc.
My hope is that the world never is reduced to only one common denominator for how to prepare for and achieving success.
I’LL TAKE A BAIL OF KALE, THANK YOU
I saw on regular television the other day that the second most GOOGLED thing in the world for some period of time, perhaps now, is/was “How to make kale chips”, which I find extremely hard to believe, but no matter, because the fact that kale is in any kind of most googled list certainly makes it relevant as a ‘concept’, and interesting at the very least. Isn’t kale the vegetable that everyone ‘loves to hate’? Therefore it must be really good for humankind.
ODE TO CAPTAIN KALE
Once upon a time I coached a player named Kale. Kale was our Captain for three years, and now that I think back on it I know for sure that there was no way that team could ever fail! Kale Nelson was a mainstay on our CSU lacrosse team in the early part of this century. I think he found our program by competing against it while at ‘another school’ and getting rammed by it before he joined up with Ram Nation, and really in many ways went on to make it his own team. He was very comfortable wearing the CSU colors. I was also very comfortable with him in that green and gold.
SPIT AND POLISH THIS!
The dictionary says that the phrase ‘spit and polish’ has military origins. The meaning is “extreme attention to cleanliness, orderliness, smartness of appearance, and ceremony often at the expense of operational efficiency”. The only part of this that was important to Kale was the ‘operational efficiency’ part. He was good at helping us be efficient, and he helped us get better in so many ways.
Kale As a player his talents were many, but he was already a pretty large boy when he arrived in Fort Collins, and was a fairly intimidating midfielder even as a newbee. He was a pretty raw sort of lacrosse talent at first, but he did come already equipped with a nice little ‘swim’ move, a maneuver that often opened the middle of the opposing defense like a can of tuna and then he would just stuff it past some bewildered goalie. Kale had played both basketball and soccer at a high level and that background and his athleticism served him well. His versatility paid huge dividends for CSU lacrosse during his playing time. Kale’s big body looked good playing basketball, something not many of his teammates could say as I sit here, think back, and smile.
After a year or two Kale had played enough men’s club lax in the summer, etc. that by then he could really play any position, and he always looked at the game through ‘coaching eyes’ anyway. He and I thought a lot of stuff right around the same time during a game and during the week, too. For example, there were times when maybe things were going alright in the middle of the field, but maybe we needed some extra LP help that day on LSM or even Close D for one reason or another, and, being in the moment and in the games, aware of the current situation, we would almost just exchange a glance, at which time he would put down his shortie and pick up a pole to go to work with, and he would assume that role for that day/game.
KALE’S PURPLE HEART OF GOLD (and green)
Kale got plenty of recognition from other teams and coaches all right. They all knew who he was, but there was a problem when it was time for some of the individual all-star team stuff. He sort of took one for the team. He got recognized, but perhaps not the way he might or even should have. He was a strong and powerful first-line middie, but his numbers suffered because he was able to help us win from different places. He never was a starting attack man for us, but he played some attack and was part of a lot of important offensive moments. He did way more than just fill in up there. Long pole? No prob.
EVERY GREAT THING NEEDS “SUB-DUDES”
His ability to ‘Captain’ was also useful for us on road trips. I had a strong habit of selling road trips with multiple games very much as “Business Trips” as best as I could, but at the same time I always liked to stay over one night after our last game or games so the team could see/experience wherever we were and have a little fun, a dangerous practice of course with 40-50 college boys that think they are on spring break the minute they ever step off the college campus. People like Kale helped me to survive by making sure that when we were on the road the brothers take care of the family to make sure nothing goes wrong when they are un-chaperoned.
SOMETIMES YOU REALLY ARE A MAN UP
Even if it’s even numbers on the field. Kale was one of the best leaders I ever had the privilege to coach. His leadership opened coaching doors for me (baby-sitting egos, etc.), allowing me to really coach the immediate proceedings. He was a middie, but he was smart (sorry) and as coach I built the man up (EMO) around him as sort of a ‘Wildcat’, and they all followed him anyway, which made it all somewhat easier to teach and install offense. As a Captain and a middie he was like a Colonel and the troops ran best when and because he was in tune with those around him.
ALWAYS SOME STRINGS ATTACHED
So when it was time to push all stars at season’s end, Kale’s kite would barely get to fly because there wasn’t some number to validate him with goals scored or any other statistical category. He made all-star teams and got recognition, but it would be impossible for others to really see what he did to keep our team working and healthy as a family.
JUST ADD A LITTLE KALE
They say it’s really good for you Who are ’they’ anyway? Shut up and eat your vegetables! It is not a perfect world. As a coach I had just a few really strict behavioral rules, but only a FEW. One of them was that there was to be NO DRINKING when we/while we are actually traveling, EVER. Of course that is no-brainer, traveling-as-a-group-from-CSU stuff, especially when the traveling is TO the playing of very important lacrosse games. It was not really that hard to enforce that rule, except it is never that simple, is it? We had one dog that happened to be an upper classman, maybe one of our leading scorers even, who could not/would not get on an airplane without first imbibing something pretty stiff. He (player) came with that in place. Well, this was painful (for me and my little rule) with so many imperfect variables splashing around in that situation pool. Well, I am not exactly proud, but Kale often made stuff like that more or less disappear before it got to my ‘reality desk’, and it all would happen in a way where everyone was happy and no one (like me) was the wiser (much), and I don’t mean BUDwiser.
Later on, after he was done with school, Kale trended into the role of assistant coach, and I surely never had a better one. He has gone on to coaching and to this day is still partnering and teaming up in the workplace with guys he played lacrosse with at CSU almost 15 years ago.
MEASURING THE RULES
Sometimes the struggle for a coach might be the new rules that must be followed this year, or the “building” where there can be a lot of administration that must go on. You can work to bring about change, but you can’t trample or otherwise mess up red tape stuff that is in place. All actions need to stick with that priority in its place. Know the rules of the game. Work with them. Maybe it is indeed worth a ‘flag’ once in a while. Coaches must choose and make good choices in that moment all the time so the team will as well.
8/18/15 ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I think it is absolutely tragic what too many adults are doing to kids’ sports here in the 21st. The latest example is the girls’ Little League World Series where the coaches instructed the team to tank/lose/throw away a game because if they lost then the next round match-up would have been more favorable if they lost than if they won. So, not only did they lose, but they lost 8-0, some sort of reversed humiliation. When others noticed and they were called out for this atrocity (is that a word?) they hid behind the “We wanted to let the second stringers play”, and blah blah, which, to me makes the whole thing twice as bad. First you commit the crime of sort of cheating in a very obvious way, and then you sort of lie to cover it up? I understand. They didn’t technically break any rules, but these are the competitive lessons that we want to teach our children nowadays? These are 12 and 13 year-old girls mind you. Do we think this is an isolated incident? No, WE don’t. TIME FOR JUDGE JUDY Well, somehow the powers that be came up with a way for justice to be served in this instance, but that does not ‘fix’ it. I am sorry but winning is not the ONLY thing. It is what happens (my opinion), and it has a higher possibility of happening when teams, coaches, players do things ‘right’, but either way it is always about honoring the game and your team, no more and no less. I coached college boys-to-men for many years. ‘We’ were a college club team for many of those years that I coached, but we played for national championships in cities far from home, and those young men cared a great deal about all of it. I saw the brackets. I knew what they looked like. Our teams were seeded #1 a few times and in the top three many, many times, but never, not once did I ever ask about or approach the subject of who we might play if we won on day one because I was focused (probably to a fault) on today and who we play today and how I wanted all that to go. So, even when we were the #1 seed and would be playing the #16 out of 16 that first day, I never thought much about or approached the subject of day 2 to my team until that became part of the equation somehow, as in we were ahead by a lot in that first game and I rested players or whatever. I was extremely conscious of and sensitive to this whole dynamic, but in my mind the team was pretty much on a need-to-know basis and I did not want them thinking or talking about what was next until I wanted them to. Could I totally control all of that? No, of course not, but I did my best to not lay extra expectations on MY team, and at the end of the day I do not think I would have changed any of the way I handled all that back in my day. The games haven’t passed me by, but a lot of the coaching techniques for sure have. WHAT DO YOU GOT? This kind of thing (LL girls WS) makes me feel really badly for the girls on both of those teams, and I feel some shame for the overall coaching ‘profession’ because people pass this stuff on as their legacy, and it would appear that fewer care about the beauty of sport and playing organized team sports. What seems to be most important is making others losers. Winning is the only thing, but it also is NOT the only thing. <><><><><><><> NO ONE HAS ACCOMPLISHED THAT SINCE, oh wait, last week. Never mind It simply amazes me that people have time and passion to come up with numbers like this one for example, playing lacrosse as the 14th hardest sport to play. Perhaps, but then you must define all the different words in the sentence beforehand. At any rate certainly not easy to quantify all that, no matter how you break down the input. Okay, but then why have a public debate on this because 14th isn’t high enough? Is it that much fun really? TRYING TO GET READY JUST RIGHT Working communities have votes to determine when meetings should be held to talk about things that will be voted on at some other, later time. That sounds more dysfunctional than it does efficiently operational, but what do I know? I only lasted six weeks as a political science major as a freshman with bright eyes and plenty of bushy tail that I thought was law school bound, The law school shoes were way too big for me. I learned quickly that power and change possibilities (for me) were available well behind the scenes, not just in front as the face on a platform of one sort or another. IT FEELS MORE LIKE DETROIT 1967 than that there will be a Woodstock Reunion forthcoming People nowadays think that since their house is five miles from a very intense race vs. cops scenario with buildings burning in the background, they are insulated and therefore not affected and those kids don’t go to ‘our schools’ anyway. Isn’t it feeling a little like old time segregation is almost impossibly somehow being ‘remixed’ into some sort of new segregation, one that is somehow more politically correct because there is choice here in the 2000’s? Or am I just paranoid…..Booh! JUST SHOOT ME (reprise) So with all this modern, statistical enlightenment that we have been ‘blessed’ with as a world, or at least a country, we are unable to have enlightened conversation about many things, but the one that just seems insane is the second amendment one. No one even wants to try and come up with simple solutions for little problems like the facts that say any idiot with a driver’s license can more or less buy a gun on line and the ammo to go into a church or movie theatre and get his 15 minutes of fame by killing a few people that did not need to die. The solution is not to arm everyone I am pretty sure. Isn’t that the local plan (arm all and teach them how to fight as young as possible) in all the Middle Eastern countries for the last 2000 years? How does that work well? SECOND AMEND(full)MONTE Never had a gun, don’t want one. I shot the head off tweedy on my very first bird attempt when I was a teenager. The tiny body landed at my feet, and that was it for me, my killing days were done, but I would never preach that as right. I do not think that way, even if I do love to preach, and I am not just another boy named “Sue”. I do not care what you say. I do not have to kill the cow to like the burger, and I will have mine with no pickles, no onions, and no guilt, thank you. I am not that three-letter word going through some minds, and it won’t be your fault when I die either. GUNS, GLORIOUS GUNS I get the guns thing and hunting and tradition and power, and hell yes, I ‘approve’ because I have seen the power to bond right along with the firepower to bring home that bacon from the hunting trip. Seeing that grandpa went on the trip and was helping the boys bag the big trophy buck or whatever is not only a time honored tradition, but it is a beautiful one. It’s fun to shoot (clay pigeons) no doubt. There is a coolness to guns. Lest we forget, however, that Bin Laden pretty much brought America to its knees on September 11 with a handful of guys that were willing to die for the cause and a few guns they snuck on the plane. I think we (USA) do pretty well at travel security anymore, and lord knows we spend enough to do it, but I am sure that clever people could still get a gun on the plane once in a while and create plenty of havoc. But at any rate, a single man and his tiny little ‘army’ crippled the most powerful country on earth, and it just took a couple hours to execute the whole plan. Pretty scary thought if you ask me. Then we glorify the whole killing of him. My thought was shut up and what took so long? HOW ABOUT A LITTLE COFFEETALK (Mike Meyers) So, why exactly are we unable to allow or empower great minds to work on real answers. Going forward isn’t this (weapons) simply the most critical social/society issue of our time? How are we going to all live here together now that the planet is soooo small? I know that Uranus is no longer an option so we will have to either get going with the star wars life style soon, or we could FIX IT!
Monday, January 11 Today is College Football National Championship, Alabama vs. Clemson <><><><> ROLE TIDE! I want to expand on my earlier expanding roles thinking, and how sometimes more roles give players and or teams more potential, or at least more possibilities, and that along with that there is often or always more possibility within each individual ‘role’ on any team. For example, in modern lacrosse the FOGO (face off/go off guy) is so ingrained that the position job has a completed definition and everyone does more or less the same thing, which is to get the ball with all that rock quest technique he learned at summer camp, and then carefully give the gotten ball to someone that is more competent at having that ball (attack, mostly), and then he scurries off the field while both teams get all the right 6 v 6 personnel onto the field. It is a pretty boring 30 second ‘truce’ almost and most times. It is all-good if that is how you want to play. Coaches can easily get the players they want on the field on the field and the team gets into the comfort zone and in a controlled situation. Me, I tend to like to keep a little helter skelter going to keep everyone interested. EXEMPLIARY BEHAVIOR At the same time, the monotony of doing the same thing can take away the multi-threat possibilities of the situation, no? Face offs are very often a jail break sort of deal where one of the two combatants wins clean and gets a run straight down the middle at the goal. There might be no greater view of future, quick offensive opportunities available to any player at any time than the one who has just won a face cleanly and as he moves the ball toward goal he can see the entire offensive half of the field well and well before he is challenged by a defender for the most part. If a bigger athletic guy is winning draws but shows no multiple threat capabilities, then the defense will not be nervous, panicky, or in fear of this stick approaching their goal with the ball quite as much. If he shows the ability to look to pass, take an open shot, etc., then at the very least he will easily create space to make a settled or slow break pass by getting the defense ‘on its heels’ a bit when we are bringing the ball down. You want this guy to have enough skill to carry a ‘hammer’. BIGFOOT IS EVERYWHERE Sometimes creating good flow and connection can be even better than having all the ‘right’ people in the game, and when there are more possibilities there are also more things happening that can make the opponent less happy. No doubt, and perhaps now more than ever, winning a high percentage of face offs also adds up to win/loss success a lot for many reasons, but mainly just because you have the ball more. When teams are able to ‘make it and take it’, as in have the ball, score, and then win the face off to possess the ball again and immediately, they are on the road that can definitely put some kind of major effect footprint on a game. FLIPSTERS DICTIONARY How I define winning face offs may not be the same as all others (coaches). I have had players, especially ones that take most or all face offs, who will talk about how they were 18-2 in the game or whatever, and I am there thinking out loud or not, “Yes, but they trapped you and took the ball away 4 times, you threw it away twice, and those two you lost put us in a place where YOU were playing defense (a thing we did not ever want), so how do you factor in that to the percentages?” To me, those kind of metrics where it is all about the draw don’t resonate so much sometimes. I think one time frustration led me to where I even made it so that it only was a F.O. win in my “Team Book” or a good until/unless we ended up taking an actual good shot. SCORING IS A PROCESS TO BE SHARED BY MANY If a player has good face off ability, but all he can do is face off and when he gets ball all he can do is run for his life, we approach it a little differently from the way we would if has skill, speed or potential. Overall, I want it so we can approach face offs as a three man proposition with many different options available at all times, and based within fundamental principles of spacing and placing. Maybe we can get a fast break or at least into an offensive situation where the defense is at least uncomfortable and at best on its heels.
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