Monday, January 10, 2011

Coaching Confessions Part 2

My entire family is a collective bunch of ref-yellers. Clump us together in a gym with inadaquate refs and there is destined to be a mini-Hardeman riot. We'll go nuts booing and screaming and berating and quite frankly, causing a bit of a scene. My brothers, sister and I show no mercy when a ref makes a bad call. Even my dear, sweet mother has been known to join in the jeering and tell a complete stranger to, "Get a new job cause you're awful at this one." Growing up sitting in countless gyms watching countless games coached by my dad, all four of us learned at an early age the joy and wonder of yelling at a ref. This was the one time in life when we could spit insults at someone and not be punished. Any bottled up anger and frustrations with our teachers or siblings or parents or life in general were released on these innocent, black and white striped strangers. We never said anything too hurtful (except for Trent who has been kicked out of a few gyms for his particulary spiteful comments) but I see now the odd nature of the whole charade that some may say is not very "Christian." But hey, it is part of the game and Jesus yelled at the Pharisees who probably would have been better refs than some of the ones we've seen. In the last three years though, I've toned downed my chiding of refs as a spectator. This is in no way due to burgeoning maturity on my part. It's actually because I have no bottled up frustrations to release. What's my secret? The peace that surpasses all understanding? Nope. I'm working on that but truth be told, I've already released all the anger screaming at refs as a coach.

Tonight while I stomped my heel and furrowed my brow and got in the face of a sweet, elderly Asian man and screamed until my spittle hit his cheek, I had a funny realization. In the midst of moments like these, while I am jabbing my finger at his chest and yelling that, "You're terrible! How could you miss that foul?" I am often simultaneously thinking, "Who am I and what on earth am I doing?" Screaming at refs as a spectator is kinda fun but they never can really hear you (unless you're my brother and he's yelling hilarious insults when it's awkwardly quiet and the whole gym turns to us so my mom has to leave since she's embarrassed) and even if they could, they don't care what you, a spectator, think of their decisions. But one of the glories of being a coach is that they actually do listen to my chiding and answer to me. This was beyond strange when I first started coaching. I would fume and yell about bad calls and then they'd come and explain their decisions. They never did that when I was yelling from the stands. The power was intoxicating.

It seems only fitting that following this mention of me screaming at a sweet, old man when we were winning by 30, that I make a few other confessions.

coaching confessions part 2

1. I nearly made a grown man cry. I hesitate to admit this because I realize I'm painting myself to be a a bit of an unfeeling monster. But in our most recent game this poor, pony-tailed man in his thirties made the wrong call and had no idea who he was messing with. He clearly hadn't heard from the refs from the previous game because they would have told him to be sure to run on the other side of the court and steer clear from me when they make the wrong call. Since he was standing right by our bench, I may have gotten in his face and I made have had some choice words for him. I ended my rant with, "What more do you want?" and his lip quivered. Literally quivered. And then he stammered, "Uh, I...I um didn't think she went straight up."

My thoughts: "Holy moly, he's about to cry. What have I become?"

My response: "Well, you're wrong," and I stormed away.

My assistant and I later had a good laugh but I actually felt quite bestial.

2. I may have lost a game for us due to my drug-induced state. If you read this post, you know that I was a bit "out of it" last week. Kids are still telling me, "I keep hearing stories from your first period class about Monday. I wish I had seen you that morning." On that morning I said everything that I usually only think. Turns out my thoughts are pretty bizarre- I always suspected this but Monday confirmed it. So the weekend BEFORE I lost all credibility as a teacher, I coached a game after genuisly taking Nyquil earlier that day. I was lost in a deep fog and it was not pretty. I mustered up some energy but I know I wasn't completely lucid. I got in a disagreement with a ref and found myself saying over and over, "You're wrong. Nope. You're wrong." I must've said it at least 7 times. Then we were losing with only 30 seconds so I called a time-out. I drew a sorry excuse for a play on the clipboard and said, "Um, Kari, you shoot it." She saw my glassy, unfocused eyes and said, "Okay, but what should we do on defense right now? We should foul right?" "Uhhhh, yeah. Do that." We lost by four.

3. I've taken my frustrations out on my girls. At times, these sweet girls are sadly the victims of my bad moods. I am not proud of this. It's something I hope to change. Once I hadn't eaten all day and ended up yelling at them during a casual shoot around. (The Hardemans do NOT function well without food.) The most recent occurrence happened when I received bad news right before practice began. My girls know me so well that judging by my tone and body language, they knew I had instantly gone from a great mood to a terrible one. One girl tried to hug me. I denied her hug. Maybe that was their first clue. (Yes, that's the second time I've denied someone a hug this season.) Another girl told my assistant, "Uh-oh, she's pissed." Sure enough, I yelled at them before practice even offically started for not running to the huddle fast enough. In both cases I apologized the next day. In both cases we laughed about it the next day. My girls are kind and offer me much needed and much appreciated grace when I blow a gasket and take my frustrations out on them. (Despite this post, I'm typically quite joyful so please don't think I have an anger problem.)

4. I turn everything into a competition. Who doesn't love a little healthy competition? However, this past week I realized I may take it a bit to the extreme. Whenever my girls ride in my car we always play, "guess the song and artist" on the radio. I usually dominate on the Christian and country radio stations and get dominated when listening to that crazy hip-hop music. Answers are typically yelled as fast and as loud as you can. (I've caught myself a few occassions screaming the name of song when I'm alone in the car) Competition spices things up but I may have crossed the line of "healthy competition" when I gave some dental floss to a player after our pre-game meal and said, "Bet I can get a bigger chunk of food out of my teeth than you can." For the record, I totally won. Thank you top left molar.

5. I read a book during the boys' intense game. I thought I would trick people with my fancy new Kindle so they wouldn't realize I was sneaking in a chapter from Cold Tangerines but a fellow English teacher sitting nearby said, "Katie, are you seriously reading a book right now?" Of course my players overheard and mocked me mercilessly. In my defense, A- it was a really good book and B- I was drained from the game we had just played and didn't have the emotional energy to allow myself to get involved in a close game.

6. I've given some very mean, very awkwardly long dirty looks. (I repeat: I do not have an anger problem) When I was teaching in Mozambique, Ude, one of my sweet South African students interrupted a lecture to say, "Miss Katie, has anyone ever told you that you look like the White Witch from Narnia?" Since then I've been told that I resemble this infamous white witch on a number of occassions and when I coach, I think that, barring the weird armor and sword, I might actually look like my doppelganger:
I gave this exact piercing look to an opposing team and to a whole crowd when they yelled, "AIRBALL" when my shooter airballed a shot. It's quite hypocritical of me since I used to love to chant that as a spectator but I am defensive of my girls and their feelings. It's just not classy for another team to chant "airball" so when they did, I glared so long at their bench that they stopped and their coach gave me a very apologetic look. Then some boys from the opposing school were sitting close to our bench in another game and chanted airball so I turned and made direct eye contact with each of them until they stopped. I know no awkwardness when I'm mad. I heard snickering shortly thereafter but I had made my point: if you chant, "airball" I will shoot you a slightly terrifying look.

7. I embarrassed the "airballing" shooter in front of her fans. Just so you don't think she airballs all the time, I must tell you how she earned quite a following at a neutral school. Students from this school would come to our tournament games just to watch her and cheer for her. After our last game they were singing her praises and had a camera out so I, being such a helpful coach, said, "Hey do you guys want a picture with her?" She shot me a very dirty look but her new fans loved it and all jumped in as I snapped the shot.

8. I told the girls, "Don't try to win. Just have fun." Great half-time pep talk, eh? We were getting demolished by a team that is significantly better than us. I ordered, yes ordered, the girls to have fun during the second half. "I don't care how much we lose by. Let's just make better decisions and enjoy the game. You have to laugh this half."

"Coach, we HAVE to laugh?"

"That's right. It's an order. Now go enjoy yourself, or else."

So I was quite proud when I saw the other team shooting a free throw and our team was in hysterics. I was confused why the other team was joining in the laughter as well, though. The reason for their laughter is one of my favorite stories of the season. One of my girls had gone to block a shot but fouled the girl hard and had let loose some gas while in the air. (She has infamously foul-smelling gas) The other team went to help up their teammate and unknowingly walked right into the sour cloud. They all started falsely accusing their own teammate while she shot the free throw but the poor girl knew it wasn't her. She pointed her finger at my girl, but feeling quite embarrassed as all eyes were on her, she smiled innocently and denied it. The old saying proved to be true: "He who denied it, supplied it." I can still picture the giggling girls bent over at the free throw line laughing uncontrollably about the horrible odor festering in the key and it makes me smile.

9. I used a unique strategy to get a man to move who was cramping my space. During our game, the ref for the following boys' game sat a little too close to my area for my liking. I never sit while I coach, but if I had, I would have had to be right next to this intruder. He didn't respond to my "why are sitting so close to me?" look and I couldn't just ask him to leave because that would be weird. So I did what any problem-solver would do who had eaten something for lunch that was not sitting well. I stood directly in front of him and let out the SBD I had been holding which smelled similar to a dead animal. (I'm sorry, mom- I try not to be too crude on here but I was so impressed that my brilliant, albeit disgusting, strategy actually worked.) I held my nose and lingered and then paced away and when I returned, surprise surprise, intruding ref had disappeared.

This last confession has nothing to do with coaching but I have get to 10 so I can have a "10 on the 10th" post but it still involves basketball.

10. I didn't do the best job supervising my nephews at my dad's game. Two year old Huddy and four year old Vander were playing calmly with their animals when Huddy decided he wanted ALL the animals. Vander refused. Huddy fumed. Terrible twos. He looked at me, looked at the plastic horse clenched in his paw, glanced at the nearby court where the game was being played and then chucked it with all his force onto the court. I wish I could say I leaped into action. I didn't. I yelled, "Heidi! Horse on the court!" and his mom sprang into action and retrieved the horse. But before she could return to scold Hudson, he looked at me again and the lion went flying. Again, my response was probably not the most mature but I noticed my dad's team all looking my way so I put my head down and pointed my finger at the raging Hudson to clarify who the guilty party was. I later learned that basically the whole gym had been watching since the teams nearly tripped on the flying animals. Thanks for that Huddy.

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