Thomas McKenzie
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The Basketball Diary Part Six: I Wanna Be Sedated


I know I promised that this time I would talk about Sophie and her antics, but I lied.

Twenty - twenty - twenty four hours to go
I wanna be sedated
Nothing to do
Nowhere to go
I wanna be sedated
--The Ramones



Tomorrow is Saturday, which means basketball. Ella has her game at 10 am, and Sophie has hers at 2. Of course, Ella and I have to get to the gym early. It just wouldn't do for the coach to get there after the players.

Last Sunday was, of course, the Superbowl. I had church in the morning. Church, for me, means leading two worship services, preaching twice, and teaching a class in between. It means making sure I greet all the visitors, as well as checking in with as many people as I can. I love doing it, and it is exhausting.

After church, my family and I did a little house-hunting (that is an entirely other post!) We went home, and I jumped in bed for a thirty minute nap. The alarm rang, and I dragged myself out of bed and into my coach clothes. Then I got the girls into their uniforms.

"I don't want to go to basketball, I'm tired, I want to stay home with mommy, I want to go over to my friend's house, I want to do art, I want to watch TV" and on and on. And that was just what I was saying. Imagine the whining I was getting from my kids. (Yeah, I'm pandering for cheap laughs).

So I've got them both in the car and we are on our way to practice. I reach into my jacket and notice that I have missed a phone call. Its from Georgia, my "assistant" coach. ("Assistant" in quotation marks because she is the competent one).

"Hey Thomas, its Georgia," says the message. "I hope you get this. I was talking to Debbie, and she said that, well, with the Superbowl and everything, I don't think people are available to come to practice. So, if its OK with you, she is calling everyone and canceling practice. Give me a call back so I know you got this."

So practice starts in ten minutes, I am already on the road, and my team's parents have canceled practice without consulting me first. And I am elated. Why elated? Because I am tired of basketball, that's why. I turn into some random driveway, and head home. On the way, I called Georgia back.

At this point, we have three games left. Just the day before, we had a game at 8 o'clock in the morning. I, of course, was there before anyone, including the guy with the keys. Ella and I sat in the freezing cold hoping that someone would show up. Someone did show up, and we got our game on.

Or, rather, the other team got their game on all over us. The incomparable Mr. Xavier, grand master of basketball, had sent us all an e-mail informing us that the refs were going to be calling "everything." And, guess what? They did. And, to make it better, our ref was Old Ref from episode four.

We got called for walking and double dribbling something like a hundred times. I don't even know what "double dribbling" is. Well, I think I know what it is, but I can't for the life of me figure out why its illegal. Especially if it is what I think it is. Which it might not be. And, frankly, I'm afraid to ask anyone. I'm the coach, I should know what double dribbling is, right? Anyway, not knowing what it is, I'm having a hard time convincing the girls not to do it.

The other team seemed to know what double dribbling is, and they didn't really do it. So we kept giving the ball back, and they kept putting it in the basket. It wasn't just that, of course. Maybe it was the time of day, but it seemed like nothing we had practiced made any difference on the court.

We got pretty well hammered. The good news was that the scoreboard wasn't working. That helped us because the girls had not idea how bad the score was. On the way home, Ella asked who won. I told her she did a great job. She seemed satisfied with that. Well, close to satisfied. I did have to tell her that our team lost, but I didn't talk about the score.

OK, back to the phone call with Georgia. She reminded me that we only have three games left. That meant three more Wednesday afternoon practices and two more Sunday practices (after Superbowl Sunday). I had to leave quickly after our Saturday Morning Massacre, and so I had missed a conversation. A couple of the parents indicated that they would like to bag the Sunday practices all together. I assume this had something to do with the exhaustion I, for one, was feeling.

On the other hand, one or two of the parents had approached her and suggested some plays we could try. Plays, can you imagine? One of them even gave her some charts of plays. Problem is, these are the same parents whose kids come to about half the practices. I have discovered that it is very difficult to practice plays when two, three, or even four of the ten players are not there.

So, Georgia posed the question: should we bag the Sunday practices? Every fiber of my being was screaming "yes, yes, make it stop." Seriously, on Sunday afternoons I just want to sleep. I don't want to put on a track suit and run around after eight year olds for an hour and a half. At this point in the season I am getting worn out. Based purely on self-interest, I would honestly be happy to see it all come to an end right now.

But, of course, I said "no." I figure we're in this far. I have no good reason to let up now. I want the kids to have fun, and I want them to get better. (How will they get better with me as their coach? A thought to ponder.) I feel like if we cut our practice time in half at this point it would feel like surrendering. Of course, I want to surrender. I want to throw up the white flag and discuss terms. But, its not about me. And so, we soldier on.

We had practice on Wednesday. Everyone was there, and we ran a "pick" play over and over and over. I hope that it works in real life. We will find out tomorrow.

Do I want to get up and go to basketball in the morning? No, not really. Does Ella? Hard to say. But I'm always glad I did it. Ella has fun, and we get to do something special together. And so I will go, and yell, and probably draw a technical. Its what I do. I'm a coach.


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