Saturday, February 28, 2015

My Take on Districts

Y'all.  So much for my commitment to writing every day this year.  I haven't written in a week! And wow... this is going to be a long post.

In my defense, it IS tournament time.  And last week was very emotional for me.

I love tournament time in general.  There's something about the realization that THIS is what all those late nights and long practices are about... that THIS is the culmination of all of that hard work and effort.

Well, it's exciting.

And this year it was emotional, too.

Breathitt drew Jackson in the first round for the boys.  Landry Dale is a senior, and I was emotionally spent after the game... because even though I am a die-hard Breathitt fan, I am also a die-hard Landry fan.

Y'all know I love that kid.

I don't know what it is about this year... maybe I'm thinking of how many conversations that Mamaw and I had on the couch about him playing ball...

Or maybe I'm just getting old...

but I almost teared up when they called his name in starting lineups.

He gave it his all.  There wasn't anything else that he could do... but as the clock ticked down and Breathitt maintained their lead, and Landry continued to drive to the basket and fire the threes, I just needed to go home and go to bed.

I was weepy the entire next day.

The Bobcats went on to win the 55th District Championship on Friday night after a hard fought game against Wolfe co... and I was a loud and obnoxious fan.. but before that...

On Thursday night, my girls at Breathitt played Jackson's girls for the championship game.

Two great groups of girls.  Coaches on the other sideline that I respect.  I've known Britni all her life and cheered for her when she'd play against Owsley for Jackson.  She's one of those "kids" that always made me smile, because she always had a kind word and a smile on her face. She loves her kids like we love ours.  And Coach Thompson.... his son is Jordan's best friend and I can still picture Chase as a little boy, quiet with a grin on his face. Wallace's first foray into coaching was the year those boys were in 7th grade... just little  bitty things. I know how hard Coach Thompson works.  He scouts and puts in long hours at the gym.

And I looked across the floor, around the gym,  and saw people that I have known my whole life. Some were wearing blue and white. Some were wearing purple and gold. Some cheered for my Mom growing up.  Some I spent the night with.  I'd wager I have the majority of the crowd as facebook friends.  Community.

And it was a good game.  Both teams fought hard and played their game.

At the end of the night, my Ladycats came out on top.  We cut the nets and Tyler got Wallace's coaching medallion and Wallace got the water cooler dumped on him by some of the boys from Breathitt's pep section...

The very same pep section chanted "We got Wallace."  Someone said some of the Jackson crowd replied, "You've got nothing.", but I didn't hear that. And in all honesty, it really doesn't matter... because fans will be fans and it isn't even really about Wallace anyway.  (What people don't realize is, that chant has nothing to do with Jackson's coaching staff or Jackson's girls.  That chant stems from the booing that we received at a Jackson/Breathitt volleyball game the year after Wallace went to Breathitt... a booing so loud that it scared Caleb and he refused to go into the gym for about 10 minutes. But we won't dwell on that.  The chant that Breathitt's pep section led is in response to the Wallace that calls their games on Friday nights, that paints his hair blue on Blue Hair Friday, that speaks to every kid regardless of who they are, who takes their tobacco cans in the bathroom but lends them money to get something to eat. Yes.  They are happy that they have Wallace...)

But some people aren't so happy to have him.

Like the guy sitting next to my Dad, who apparently didn't realize who he was sitting next to (or maybe he just didn't care) .. who proceeded to tell my Dad that "If Breathitt had a coach they'd be ok."


My Dad, being a much better Christian than me, just sat and listened to his viewpoint, calmly pointed out that "that coach" that he was talking about was his son-in-law, and then talked with him the rest of the game.

I don't think he had much to say about Wallace after that...

but he did go on to criticize our girls and talk about how they couldn't handle the press...

at which point I just. about.  lost it. 

(Although I guess we do have freedom of speech and everyone has their right to their own opinion).

But here's what I'm realizing... and it's just my opinion.

The people Wallace work with are children. Even though they may be taller than me and take college classes, they still aren't adults. They will make mistakes. Sometimes they don't feel like playing. Sometimes they are heartbroken over something that someone else on the team said or what their boyfriend said or stressed over a homework assignment that they have to do... or they may just have a bad hair day, because after all, they are teenage girls and that is ok.

There may be times that a player questions a call that Wallace makes... and they have that right (as long as they are respectful, because, after all, athletics is a conduit to teach about life and how to handle conflict).  In fact, those players deserve to understand why they are being asked to do something, and at times they may see something going on that Wallace doesn't.  The key to a successful team is mutual respect and teamwork.

Wallace and his coaching staff are adults, but they are humans.  They sometimes make the wrong decisions. Wallace is at times stubborn and can't see different perspectives.  It can be a strength and weakness. And, let's face it.  He may be a little conceited.  Blame it on my Mamaw Na, a prayer warrior who prayed for him to have self-esteem. (And, may I note that at some point the other night when Wallace had called a time out and was motioning for the crowd to get on their feet that Kami said, "My, Lord."  To which my Mom replied, "Wallace is to coaching what Landry is to high school basketball."  All about the drama, maybe? But I do love them...)

And there may be times that David Kyle or Tim or Bubba question something that Wallace says, and that is ok, too, because a head coach is only as good as his assistants.  They offer good advice and they serve as a sounding board, and let's face it, they know a whole lot more about the basketball than I do, and Wallace trusts them.  They work well together.

Likewise, the parents of the kids that Wallace coaches are humans.  Their kids are their world, just like Caleb is our world. They love their kids with abandon and hurt when their kids hurt.  As parents, we all want to spare our kids from difficult situations, even though sometimes that is the best way they learn.

And sometimes a parent may question something that Wallace does... and that's understandable, too... because after all, they're driving their kids to and from practice and shelling out money to get into gyms and buy concessions. As a parent, even though you are cheering for a team, there is only one number one player, because we love our kids like that.  Nights after a game, Wallace spends a lot of time on the phone with parents breaking down game strategy. 

I question calls Wallace makes, and I feel like I have that right because I have to listen to him.

But you know who doesn't have the right to question a call Wallace makes or talk about our kids?

Someone who has absolutely nothing invested in them at all. 

I've always hated bandwagoners, even though at times I am one. And I quarrel at kids with the best of them, especially during football season.

But I don't have that right.

So, if I've learned anything this district tournament, it is that I need to be more respectful.  I need to cheer loudly, and be encouraging...

but I also need to remember that kids will be kids and adults will be passionate and sometimes in the heat of the moment words will get said or posted on Facebook...

but it's just a game and we are still family and community.

And even though in a perfect world we should all be encouraging each other, that will never happen... but I can do my small part.

Even as an obnoxious coach's wife.

Best of luck to all of our teams in 14th Region play! 

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