Lessons learned in basketball continue through life

Published 12:42 pm Tuesday, March 7, 2017

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Advocate-Messenger approached area high school basketball coaches about writing a column for publication. This one from Mercer County boys coach Kurt Young is the final of 10 stories to appear in the paper each Tuesday through the end of the season.

Initially when I found out that I would be writing this column in March, I was excited. It would be the end of the season, and I would have plenty of time to work on it and I had several ideas.

However, as the year has gone on and I have been able to not only read but learn from the other coaches who have written columns, it got me thinking about the lessons that other coaches have taught me just as I have learned from these columns.

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I have been fortunate to be involved in basketball my entire life. My parents were both high school coaches, and when my playing career was over, I got into college coaching. I was a college coach for 20 years before deciding to get into high school.

The life lessons I have learned from my coaches along the way as a player and an assistant coach have been helped shaped me into the person, husband, father and coach that I am today.

The amount of time athletes spend with coaches is invaluable in my opinion, especially in regards to life lessons. In my opinion, coaches are the best teachers of this knowledge.

Some of the life lessons that my coaches taught me are:

  1. It’s not supposed to be easy. Nothing worth having ever is.
  2. How not only to lead but also to follow. Most of the time, especially in the real world you must be able to follow, and it is a skill also. When you lead, be a servant leader — empower and don’t enable.
  3. It is OK to make mistakes and even fail. If you don’t fail sometimes it means you never try most of the time. You learn how to succeed by failing.
  4. You must be able to handle failure and success. Many people struggle with success more than failures. Success can lead to complacency and overconfidence. Don’t be afraid of success.
  5. If you are selfless than good things will happen. When you worry about “we” and not “me,” than you can accomplish great things. If the team is successful than you will be successful.
  6. Discipline is not a bad word. Discipline is what and who you are when no one is looking. It is what gives you the strength to work and accomplish great things. Without it, you will not succeed.
  7. Body language tells the story. Your body language tells people what you are thinking. No one wants to coach or play with someone that has bad language.
  8. Life is not fair. The world owes you nothing. You must go out and earn what you get.
  9. Take responsibility for your actions. If you don’t take responsibility for your actions you can never learn or be successful.
  10. Embrace the moment. Cherish each opportunity and accept the challenge.

These are just some of the lessons that my coaches taught me. I am grateful and thankful that not only they taught me but that my parents allowed them to.

My parents understood the role of a coach and the positive impact it could have on my life, and they supported them even when I didn’t agree with or understand what the coach was doing.

More so than ever, it is vital for a parent to be appreciative and supportive of coaches who are doing these things. Coaches at the high school level and below aren’t doing it for the money or fame, as many of my colleagues have already alluded to in previous columns. They are doing it make a difference in lives.

Thanks to all the area coaches who make a difference in our community every day.

Kurt Young is in his first year coaching the Mercer County boys basketball team, and the Titans have responded to their new leader — they entered Monday’s 12th Region semifinal with a 24-7 record.