Some of you may not know that I played college hoops at Princeton University. I then went on to play professionally in Brazil, England and Sweden. For me, March Madness is an awesome time of year.
This March I have had the privilege of being a coach for Special Needs basketball in Upper Merion Township. Each Saturday morning we gather for our own version of March Madness. The times with the kids and the teens and adults who serve as Buddies during practice have been extraordinary and inspiring to me.
There are amazing lessons that I learn each week. I wanted to share some of these insights with you.
1. Be YOUR personal best. As a coach, it has been a challenge to design drills in such a way that each child can practice and be challenged at their own level. The range of abilities in this group is vast—we have kids who are athletic and kids who need adult- assistance to move around the court. Progress for each child means something different. For a strong, young lady named Meghan, progress means she can dribble once or twice in a row with a buddy holding her hand and assisting her. Progress for a child like Cooper means dribbling through a maze of cones and not losing the ball as he strives to move faster. We don’t compare levels in our basketball practice. We seek to help each child rise to their personal best.
What would rising to your best mean for you personally and professionally? Try this week to let go of competition and comparison. Instead, focus your energy on that next major step of progress you are ready to take. Then, give it your all!
2. Giving assists is just as important as scoring. At practice, a young man named Jeremy has the capacity to take over games both offensively and defensively. This past week during our end-of-practice scrimmage, he started to do so. I quietly asked him to please get the ball to his teammates so they could score as well. That’s just what he did. Rather than dominating in points, he started looking for his teammates and set them up for success. In spreading the scoring wealth, everyone on the team was given an opportunity to feel the thrill of basket-making.
Are there areas where you consistently shine? Perhaps there is a way for you to assist others in rising to their potential so they can shine too. Consider stepping back strategically this week to let others enjoy spotlight moments.
3. Ask for and receive a Buddy’s help you when you need it. At every practice we have at least one Buddy per player. The Buddies come to support and guide the players during drills and games. The players love having a buddy that pays special attention to them and provides them camaraderie and assistance whenever they need it. The buddies are patient and wise, helping the players when they need it yet giving enough space to the players so they can be as independent as possible. Our buddies feel the enjoyment of having helped a child enjoy the thrill of participating in basketball.
In what areas of life would it help you to seek out support from a buddy? If you are struggling or stuck, you needn’t suffer alone. Friends and family enjoy offering their support. Ask for the assistance that you need. Let your buddies enjoy giving the help while you receive the assistance and make the progress you need.
4. Celebratory dances are invigorating. Cole is a short, dynamic player who has the ability to score on the regular size hoop. This past week he was on fire—shooting and scoring with ease. After one of those baskets I saw the fans start to smile and joyfully laugh. When I turned around and looked at Cole, I saw him doing an NBA-style celebratory dance with the in-your-face confident facial expressions and hand gestures included. It was awesome to see this young man be so jubilant.
When was the last time you took a moment to do your own celebratory dance? Take time this week to notice your progress and accomplishments—big or small. Then, stand up and do a victory-dance. Feel the joy of growth and achievement!
I feel a bit of sadness that next week is our final practice. Watching these special athletes develop has brought me tremendous joy and inner satisfaction.
I pray these lessons and ideas assist you in rising more fully to your potential this week!
With my love,
Patricia Omoqui, The Thought Dr.