Many times people give you advice about “being strong” … “sticking with it” …. “fight through it” … and all of the other motivational analogies about how to handle opposition. In my opinion, the ability to persevere when dealing with a difficult situation builds character, but sometimes, you just have to walk away from it.
After coaching basketball for at least 15 years at the high school level, as well as playing it in high school, the decision to walk away was easy. The time shared with coaches, parents, and players throughout my coaching career were great, and they are memories that will never be forgotten, but I knew it was time for a change. After winning a High School State Basketball Championship, I decided to coach one more year. Even after losing 45 points, not to mention rebounds, assists, and leadership I felt the players who were returning had the potential to return to the State Tournament. They would have all been players with experience, as well as ones who were competitive and talented.
As a coach, my passion for the game didn’t diminish throughout my career, but the long days and long seasons wore on me. Previous to the State Championship win, the team had made two State Semi – Finals appearances, as well as regional play two years earlier. Not to mention, the program was 1 – 19 the year before I became head coach, and the fact that I coached the JV and Varsity team my first year. Whew!
Yeah, I was tired, but there was still a passion for the game. The year after winning the State, the team record ended up being 16-6. Four of those losses were to previous State Championship Teams, and the other two were two State Tournament teams. This 16-6 season was one of the worst seasons handed to me as a coach. It wasn’t the record or the kids, but more of the adults who became involved, which created problems with individual players and disrupted the team chemistry.
So, for me the best alternative was to “walk away” from the situation. This was almost done before the season even started because insight told me this was not going to be a good season, but my wife convinced me to stay. Plus, it was not the “right thing” in the big scheme of things, but on the last game of the season on the bus ride home, I walked away from the game of basketball.
I haven’t looked back since, and it’s been one of the best decisions made by me to this date. The memories will always be there, but the enjoyment of making other memories is just as good. The entire situation made me a stronger person, but now I’m strong and content because I walked away.
Oh yeah, the program hasn’t had a winning season since my departure.