Saturday, January 18, 2014

Coach Daddy

It’s long been said that you should never judge a book by its cover.  Well I’m here to tell you the same goes for six-year-old girls.  That’s right.  Don’t be fooled by their sweet semi-toothless smiles or their doe-like eyes.  Because when you think you’re looking at an angelic cutie, you could be staring down a straight up b-ball assassin.

When Sammy first told me she wanted to play basketball this season, I was really excited.  I love the sport and I figured it would be a good experience for her.

Then she told me that she wanted me to coach her team.  Gulp!

Despite the fact that I can ball it up with the best of them on the NBA Live video game series, my actual on-court playing minutes are rather limited.  As such, I was hesitant to don a whistle and lead a team into battle.  But then I remembered, they’re only in first and second grade!  It’s not like I’d have to teach them how to run the triangle offense.  That, combined with Sammy’s adorable smile, convinced me to do it.

Hello “Coach Vance!”

I now find myself conducting practices and coaching games for the University of North Carolina “Tar Heels”, a squad of 10 girls.  Are they adorable?  Yes.  Are they hilarious?  Yes.  Do they still get confused about which direction to run in or what hoop to shoot at?  Yes and yes.

And guess what?  I love it!

Sammy is #3.  Isabelle is our "12th man"

Now, while we haven’t hit our stride yet (I’m convinced the teams we’ve played thus far were hopped up on the juice.  Likely Sunny D.), we’re getting better every week and the girls, in addition to learning the fundamentals of the game, are having fun.  

And, if in having me as their coach, they happen to become more comfortable being around the disabled or see me and learn not to be limited by their own challenges?  Well.  I suppose maybe that’s OK too.

So, I’m having a great time and so is the team.  But how’s it working out for Sammy?

Well.  It turns out that Sammy is a true defensive juggernaut.  Forget that she’s tiny.  That kid is freakishly tenacious.  Before taking the court today, I looked her in the eyes and said, “Sammy. Get me that ball!”  Six steals and a few fouls later, she had certainly made her presence known.  She may not score a lot, but players had better think long and hard before trying to get past her with the ball.  Turns out, my little shorty is a bruiser.

And that makes Coach Daddy very proud too.

Friday, January 10, 2014

A New Year to Remember

If watching years of Seinfeld has taught me anything it’s that one should never “name names.”  However, at the risk of getting blacklisted at Hop-Sings, I’m going to do it any way.

I should probably start by saying that I had a really hard time coming up with my first post of the new year.  Having come off a tumultuous 2013, Casey and I entered 2014 determined that it was going to be our year, the best one yet.  After all, we figured we were due.  Life, however, didn’t seem to get the memo yet.

First, I lost a client.  Then, a would-be client stopped just short of signing a contract.  That was all within the first week of January.  Ouch and ouch.  Next, the weather dropped below freezing, my schedule was shot due to funky school closures and I ran out of ranch dip.  That was this week.  What can I say, when it rains, it pours.

While in the midst of worrying ourselves silly about how far down this rabbit hole might go, I looked up long enough to realize that I’m not the only one whose year didn’t exactly kick-off as planned.

My friend Jason, a quadriplegic with a never-say-never attitude, after having spent 7 of the last 18 months in the hospital is going back in for more surgery.  He’ll be there (away from his wife and son) for at least 6 weeks.

My friend Malisa, who has been bedbound since 2009, is in the hospital again.  She’s fighting the good fight, but has no word on when she’ll get to go home to her husband and daughter.

My friend P.J., one of my Muscular Dystrophy brothers, celebrated his new year by landing in the hospital with pneumonia.  To top it all off, his beloved Packers were ousted from the playoffs by my 49ers (sorry bud, but I can’t feel bad about that one).

At every turn, I am spotting more and more people whom I know and love that are experiencing serious problems.  Many of their issues are health-related, others involve marital woes and some are strictly job/financial in nature.

And so it is, that for many of us, 2014 hasn’t quite been the year of promise we had all hoped for.  On the plus side, it’s got plenty of time to get back on the right track.

So, here’s to hoping that Jason, Malisa and P.J. will all be home soon.  Here’s to hoping I’ll sign more clients than I know what to do with.  And here’s to hoping that whoever you are and whatever you’re going through that this too shall pass.

And when it does, and eventually it always does, here’s to hoping it’s in time to make 2014 the best year of our lives!