posted on May 13, 2021
Growing up, I had the world’s best coach. Well, at least in my eyes he was. He did not have awards or medals or experience playing in the NBA. However, this man made an everlasting impact on who I am as a young woman. Coach Jerry was the man that I admired in ways that went beyond the court and far exceeding his knowledge of posting up in the paint. I was just a little 5th grader trying out for his AAU team last minute and convincing myself that I was not good enough. Whether it was my tremendous height or my sensational talent (sense the sarcasm?), he took a chance on me. I had never met this man in my life, nor have I ever gone through legitimate tryouts for a team, but he saw something in me. Little did I know that this man would completely change my life. So here are 3 lessons I learned from the greatest coach, Coach Jerry:
I was a gangly, unpolished mess when I first met Coach Jerry. Not far from who I am now, but I just hide it a little better (again with the sarcasm). I was taught early to never just go through the motions as it leads to a deep being unfulfilled in every aspect of your life. As Coach Jerry always said, “Showing up is not enough” and he was right. He would send us home if we were mentally not there or if we were not listening to his direction. We were expected to be present in all aspects. One day we were not listening, goofing off and overall, just being a bunch of crazy kids. He got so frustrated that he ended practice early and told us that at our next practice we need to come to play. He said this way calmer than you would expect so we should have known that the large number of suicides we ran at our next practice were coming for us. Your body can physically be there, but why even show up if you are not willing to put in the work? What’s the point? Just going through the motions benefits nobody involved. Put in the work (read Curtis’s paying your dues blog for more😊) and success will eventually follow you because in a world only concerned about outcome, there still are people who appreciate the effort and the work that is required for success. Find the people who appreciate the work not the outcome. That has helped me ween out who appreciates me as a person and who only cares about performance.
I played on this team with girls whom I still consider extremely close friends. But, back then, this team was my family and we sure as hell played like it. We knew each other’s strengths, weaknesses, ticks, traditions etc. Knowing each other on that level and becoming the best of friends off the court led to success on the court. In the middle of a game we were playing selfish, as individuals not a team. Coach Jerry called a time-out and was enraged. He yelled, “PASS THE BALL!” in all of our faces and that’s all we needed to hear. We were not the tallest, strongest or sharpest on the court, but we played smart in terms of playing to benefit each other’s strengths and minimize weakness. Therefore, we won more games and were happier with our performance. We had room to enjoy the game and not be so concerned about individual wins. We were much happier appreciating each other’s small wins and those we gained as a team. The effort each one of us put into a game was collectively enough to outwork our opponent that had players with contradicting efforts. In a professionally setting, learn from your coworkers, they are your teammates. In a personal setting your friends, family, significant other these are all your teammates. Teamwork will lead to more success than any individual ever will.
Like I said, Coach Jerry never cared about wins/losses alone, he cared about the effort. Of course, sometimes he cared about the outcome as every coach does. But, there tended to be a positive relationship between effort and success. Coach Jerry had this big blocking pad that he named Delilah. Delilah was old and ripped and had a permanent dent in her from all the years of shoving against her players. Coach Jerry would put this pad on and shove us as we were trying to play, specifically going for layups or post moves. We were meant to lean into the pressure and perform regardless of what got in our way. Delilah was a pain in the ass to say the least, but she showed me that getting shoved builds character and teaches you to push through the pressure in order to get what you deserve. No matter what gets in your way, always do your best to perform whether in any aspect of your life.
Well, there you have it. I learned many things from Coach Jerry, but those were the big three. I carry these lessons with me in every aspect of my life especially as a young professional. Putting everything I have into every single day and not just showing up, working as a team and leaning into pressure are my three keys to success whether it is professionally, training wise or in personal relationships. Coach Jerry set me up for success; something I never anticipated as a gangly, unpolished 5th grade kid.