The End ... Kinda
Basketball has been an outlet for our family from the start. It’s woven into all aspects of our lives and has provided lessons and experiences we could’ve never imagined. Our identity has not been swallowed up by the game, but it has certainly impacted the people we have each become.
Our family - Betsy, Ally, and Gabe - has enjoyed a whirlwind beyond our wildest dreams as we’ve traveled along Gabe’s side throughout his grassroots basketball experience. What began as time together in the basement breaking ballhandling drill records for stickers ended this weekend in Lissone, Italy as winners of the Jit Lissone International Championship featuring eight different countries. In between we’ve won AAU National Championships and an Ohio D1 State Championship; we’ve played on ESPN, NBAtv, and FS1; we’ve traveled all over the US and into Europe; we’ve suffered heartbreaking losses and enjoyed unbelievable victories.
Each of our perspectives throughout our journey is inevitably different. Gabe, as the main character, always plays and does what he loves while inspiring others to use their God-given talents in the process. Ally, as the ever-supportive #1 fan, will drop anything and everything she is doing to go watch, and cheer loudly for her little brother. Betsy, of course, is the true support system behind the scenes, allowing everything to work and making sure her family could ‘survive in the wild’ as she likes to say. And, myself, so fortunate to be in many of the arenas with Gabe, doing the best I knew how to provide him and his teammates with the best experience possible.
But, most importantly, it’s been together.
Why Should We Care?
Life is a team sport, at least lived fully it is. Those fortunate enough to grow up in a connected, loving family experience this firsthand. Unfortunately, they don’t always appreciate it because of their lack of experience with the alternative. And, those not raised in a family unit don’t know what they don’t know.
As adults, however, we get to choose. It’s our choice where our family will rank in our list of priorities. I clearly remember making my choice. Sitting on the bench during the awards ceremony in Lissone, Italy I thanked God again for the clarity and resolution He revealed it to me with.
I had been the Athletic Director at Graham HS for about four years, a position I had taken following eight years of classroom teaching. I loved the job as it provided an avenue for me to impact student-athletes other than just our boys basketball players, where I was also the head coach. The Athletic Director position at Graham was an administrative position and required an incredible amount of time in order to do it well. Mowing grass, painting lines, putting up fences, draining fields, mailing contracts, answering phone calls, sending emails, securing officials, hiring coaches, scheduling trips … were just a few of the duties handed over to me by one of my mentor’s Mr. Ludlow. Fortunately, Mrs. Sells, the Athletic Secretary, was always there to help with anything and everything.
While Ally and Gabe were young, the time was challenging but with both of our families nearby it was manageable. The conflict arose when Ally and Gabe began participating in youth sports and 4H. My moment of realization came on a Saturday morning during a Junior Varsity Girls Soccer game. I was at the high school event - supervising, taking care of the tickets, concession stand, and on this day, running the clock because we didn’t have a volunteer to do it.
At the same time Gabe was playing soccer at one of our local parks, one of his first competitive sporting ventures. While sitting there running the clock, missing Gabe’s game, I clearly remember saying to myself, “What are you doing?!”
I finished the year and not long after that took a significant pay cut to go back to the classroom to teach and coach, freeing up my time and schedule in order to watch Saturday morning youth soccer games.
Few decisions I’ve made have been better than that one. Not to leave Graham, I will always love St. Paris, OH and Champaign County. For me, the decision wasn’t about moving or changing jobs. It was about choosing my family as my first team.
That decision provided the start to a journey that ended this weekend - me coaching Gabe. The end of one season always marks the beginning of another. And, as we transition from one season to the other, whether it’s in business or life, we learn very quickly that it’s all about the people we share it with that matters the most.
REAL TALK - Action Steps
Often we think the people we spend time with are coincidental. While we can allow that to be the case, we do not have to accept chance. Who we surround ourselves with is one of the most important decisions we make as a leader and parent. It’s far too important to leave up to chance in my opinion. Here are a few people we have been intentional with allowing to pour into our family.
The underlying leadership lesson throughout this season in our lives has been presence. I can’t imagine a more tragic regret than to have spent this time running the rat race society calls success - climbing the ladder leaning against the wrong wall. The journey is the success. The experiences are the success. The relationships are the success. I’m thankful for the presence and clarity to have not missed it.
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I'm a teacher, coach, and parent seeking excellence while defining success on my own terms.