Leadership

Strong Face

The way we respond to both our mistakes and our success will often put our toughness on display.  When we mess up, how do we respond?  When we experience a big win, how do we respond?  Our body language speaks volumes, and through the highs and lows we need to have a strong face.  

I arrived early to the University of North Carolina's morning shoot around at Notre Dame.  The UNC team bus hadn't arrived yet, but there were two guys that came early with the managers;  Seventh Woods and Joel Berry.  As I watched them go through their workouts, I became intrigued with the way Joel Berry performed.  Not because he was doing unique drills or making every shot, but because of the body language that he displayed.  He communicated a strong face.

When he made shots, he had a strong face.  When he missed shots, he had a strong face.  Even when he air-balled his fourth miss in a row, he had a strong face.  His body language never waivered and he had a "Teflon" memory, allowing both the good and the bad to bounce off of him.  He transitioned to the "next play" every time.  He never cussed and he never allowed his emotions to overcome him. 

As I watch players workout, there is always a wide spectrum in which they respond to makes and misses.  Some celebrate every make as if it was the first time they ever made a shot.  Some will drop and F-bomb every time they miss as if they are a 100% shooter.  Some will hang their head at the first sign of failure and give up.  Players need to learn how to have a strong face and move on to the next play.  Negative reactions to imperfection is not acceptable and it is an obvious sign up immaturity and lack of toughness.

Duke head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said, "Next play is the absence of fear.  You have moved on."  Negative reactions are excuses and indicate that there is a fear of failure.  Your body language  will communicate to others if you are mentally tough enough to move on or not.  

Next play is the absence of fear.
— Mike Krzyzewski

In his book, Toughness, Jay Bilas writes, "'next play" not only leads to consistency; it leads to composure too, because when you take the next play mentality, you are firmly in the present and prepared to make the most important play: this play."

Whether you are a player or a coach, the idea of having a strong face is vital.  It's important on the court and it's important off the court.  Make it a point to challenge yourself and those around you to respond to their success and failures with a strong face, willing to move on to the next play.  

Surrender: One Word 2018

My One Word for 2017 was "faith."  God couldn't have put a better word in my heart when I chose that last year.  For 2018, I prayed that God would keep building on my faith and place a focus in my mind again.  For the past couple weeks, no word felt right as I tried to pick one word for this year.  But today, God gave me my word for 2018: Surrender.

SURRENDER

As I think of the ways that God tested my faith last year, I'm very aware that he may call me to surrender in uncomfortable ways.  To be honest, it scares me a little bit.  But whatever he has in store for me and my family in 2018, I want to surrender it all to Jesus.  

I felt that "surrender" was the right word tonight while I was listening to the song "Gracefully Broken" by Matt Redman.  You can listen below.

The lyrics say, "Here I am, God, arms wide open! Pouring out my life, gracefully broken...I surrender."  I know there are so many areas in my life that I have not surrendered to God.  I'm excited to see how God changes my heart over the next 365 days and draws me closer to Him!  I ask that you pray for me as I strive to surrender my thoughts, my actions, and my life to Jesus.  Here's to 2018...Happy New Year!

Surrender.png

2017 - FAITH (Read More)

2016 - PERSISTENT (Read More)

2015 - SERVE

2014 - IMMEDIACY

The Impact YOU Have

One reason that I love the game of basketball is because of the impact it has on people of all ages.  The game engages the craziest fanatics daily and engrosses an entire nation during March.  It captivates an audience and it will not let some of them go.  But one of the most significant influences the game has is the way it enamors a child's heart and inspires them to be like YOU.

3...2...1...

I'm willing to bet that every player and coach grew up with a basketball dream.  For some it was reenacting the final play of the game when your team is down 2 and the ball is in your hands.  You audibly count down the game clock...3...2...1...and hoist up the game winning shot.  If it went in you celebrated the win; if you missed you were obviously fouled.  

BE LIKE MIKE

For others it was watching Michael Jordan and trying to "Be Like Mike."  You would run out of the tunnel to the Bulls starting lineup song, "At 6'6, from North Carolina, number 23, Michaellll Jorrrrdannnnn!"  You would stick your tongue out on your way to the rim and attempt to impose your will on your friends with that fade away jumper.  And you're lying if you never tried to dunk the basketball while spreading your legs just like the Jordan logo.  

THE BATHTUB

Maybe you were that die-hard player that would shovel the snow off the driveway in 14 degree weather to get shots up.  Of course, the cold temperature and snow would make your ball flat, so you had a couple more basketballs in the rotation.  You would put the flat ball in the hot bathtub you had filled in order to warm up the balls to be ready to go again in 15 minutes.  True dedication.

PEOPLE WHO MADE AN IMPACT

These were all stories from my life growing up, but no matter what your dream was there was someone that made an impact on you.  Someone that you wanted to be like and imitate as a player or a coach.  For me it was my next door neighbor, Nick Hancock, and his teammate Tony Romo.  Yes, THAT Tony Romo.  I remember going to their games at Burlington High School (now Karcher Middle School) and watching them play.  I would go home and imitate everything they did.  Their shooting technique, their hustle, their willingness to dive on the floor for loose balls, etc.  My eyes were on them and they made an impact on me.

From a coaching perspective, my aunt and uncles were a huge impact on me.  They were all coaches and I would grow up going to their games.  At family gatherings I would listen to them talk about those games.  I'm not sure if they ever realized how I hung on to every word they said, but I did.  And those words have stuck with me to this day as a coach.  

There is a poem that I love to share with people called "Little Eyes Upon You."  It goes like this:

There are little eyes upon you and they are watching night and day.

There are little ears that quickly take in every word you say.

There are little hands all eager to do anything you do;

And a little boy who’s dreaming of the day he’ll be like you.

You’re the little fellow’s idol, you’re the wisest of the wise.

In his little mind about you no suspicions ever rise.

He believes in you devoutly, holds all you say and do;

He will say and do, in your way when he’s grown up just like you.

There’s a wide-eyed little fellow who believes you’re always right;

And his eyes are always opened, and he watches day and night.

You’re setting an example every day in all you do;

For the little boy who’s waiting to grow up to be just like you.
— Author Unknown

So next time you go out and do your job with the game of basketball, keep in mind that there are little eyes watching you and they are soaking up everything you say and do.  Your actions, your words, your energy, your responses - they are setting an example for the next generation of players and coaches.  I believe we have a responsibility to be a light to all of those around us.  Take your platform to heart and do your best to use the game we love to impact other people in a positive way!

See Jesus In Me

My desire as a coach is for people to see Jesus in me.  Through the way I work, the way I behave, and the way I care, I want Jesus to be at the center of it.  My heartbeat is to see those around me grow closer to Jesus because of the way I live.

However, I'm really bad at it most of the time.

My work becomes focused solely on wins & losses.  I work a certain way for certain hours, so that people will give me their approval.  I do what I do because I want the praise and glory for myself.

My behavior lacks character too often and I fall victim to Satan's attacks.  I allow my feelings to dictate my actions, which often leads to sin.  I behave the way I do because I'm prideful and want to do what only makes me happy.

My care for others is non-existent  because their needs are not more important than my own, obviously.  I focus on what I want and lookout for me, myself, and I.  I lack the care that I need to have because I'm selfish.

I COULD GO ON.

I've been struggling lately to be a light; to be the example that God created me to be.  He called me to coach and he enabled me to have the opportunity to impact young men and other coaches.  I'm passionate about fulfilling that call with the gifts that God has given me.  I want to embrace the responsibility that I have because I know the impact those with the same calling had on me.  So here's what I'm going to do:

PRAY

I believe that prayer is powerful and God desires to have that communication with us.  As a coach, I need to make this a daily occurrence with intentionality throughout the day.  However, I'm really bad at praying.  I don't do it enough and more often than not I fail to do it well.  Please pray for me to grow stronger in my prayer life!

READ

God's word is powerful.  It speaks truth and breathes life.  I need to dig deeper into the word of God and find out more about what he is all about.  I'm really good at reading it on a surface level, but I desire to dive deeper and grow closer to God.  

DO

I want to do more.  Not because I think it will earn me favor with God, but because I want to impact people.  I want to genuinely love them and show them who Jesus is by the way I live life.  I want my words to speak truth and I want my actions to display love.  I want the gospel to resonate with the people I come in contact with every day, so Jesus can do a work in their life.

I want people to see Jesus in me. 

Fueling Your Heart

Each day we are given opportunities to choose the influences we want in our lives.  The videos we watch, the music we listen to, the books we read, and the people we spend our time with.  Each decision we make fuels our hearts with a worldview that will ultimately impact the way we carry ourselves.  So, the question is, what is fueling your heart?

It’s easy to gravitate towards popular content the world is selling to us daily, but it’s important to understand what those stories are telling us.  Just because something is portrayed as “cool” or “relevant,” doesn’t mean we should be consuming it.  We need to be intentional about fueling our hearts with substance, promoting growth and excellence in all we do. 

Here’s a few examples of what I mean:

Spotify has over 140 million users that consume over 1.7 billion hours of music each month.  Currently, the song that is streamed the most and sits at #2 on the Billboard Top 100, is “Rockstar” by Post Malone (Feat. 21 Savage).  The first lyrics that millions of people are actively choosing to put into their hearts when they listen to this song are, 

Ayy, I’ve been f****** hoes and poppin’ pillies. Man I feel just like a rockstar.
— Post Malone

WHAT MUSIC IS FUELING YOUR HEART?

Last month, the top grossing movie at the box office was “It,” earning $290,775,232.  It has played in over 4,000 theaters countless times, entertaining millions of people across the globe.  I understand the thrill and excitement that comes along with horror movies, but at what cost?  The description that lures people to buy a ticket to this movie is, “A group of bullied kids band together when a shapeshifting demon, taking the appearance of a clown, begins hunting children.”  Really?

WHAT MOVIES OR VIDEOS ARE FUELING YOUR HEART TODAY?

In 2016, 68% of high school seniors said that they tried alcohol with their friends.  Their friends claimed they were going to harmless parties and having “fun” participating in drinking games.  Statistics also say that alcohol causes the most harm in people under the age of 21 and is responsible for over 4,300 deaths each year. 

WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE DO YOU SURROUND YOURSELF WITH?

The point of this article is not to tell you what not to do.  However, I think it’s important for us to ask ourselves the question, “what is fueling my heart?”  If we think about it, the shows we watch, the music we listen to, the content we read, and the people we spend our time with, influences our lives in a huge way.  If we want to be the best we can be, why wouldn’t we fuel our hearts with content that is positive and full of truth?  For me, it’s a battle every day.  I want to have fun and satisfy my need for entertainment, but I constantly need to examine what I’m fueling my heart with.  I encourage you to think about the influences you allow into your life every day and ask yourself if the fuel you’re putting into your heart is the fuel that will get you to your desired destination. 

Storytelling Through Social Media

A little over a year ago, I wrote a post for this blog entitled “Social Media: The Age of New Recruiting” (if you have a couple minutes, give it a quick read).

In that article, I talked about the importance of storytelling in recruiting both players and fans for your program. Whether it’s through photos, videos or written content, fans LOVE to know more about what’s going on with your team!

Any time I write an article, give a presentation, or talk one-on-one with people about storytelling through social, I always get positive responses. People are excited about the possibilities for their own programs because they themselves love consuming content from their favorite sports teams. However, when it comes to implementing those ideas, those same people are seemingly paralyzed with fear.

The perfect photo, the highest quality video, the best written blog post – the chance that what they produce might not be exactly “right” or as good as someone else keeps them from doing anything at all.

SO WHAT'S THE SOLUTION?

Get out your phone and just go. Don’t overthink, just try. In reality, chances are if it’s the kind of thing that interests you (a sports fan), then it will probably be interesting to those who follow your program (other sports fans).

You may be thinking still, “I don’t even know where to begin.” Here are a few suggestions of things that have worked on our team pages:

  •          Game photos
  •          Team pictures at special events
  •          Congratulatory milestone photos and graphics
  •          Videos of players competing (on the court, in the weight room)
  •          Video documentaries of trips
  •          Pictures and/or videos of community service events
  •          Instagram and/or Snapchat “mini” stories of 4-5 photos/videos
  •          Group photos

See, the goal isn’t perfection. The goal is to emotionally connect with your fan base. And the best way to do that is simply to story tell by regularly documenting your team’s journey. Don’t wait any longer. Start storytelling!


Tony Miller is an assistant men's basketball coach and head of the sports management program at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina.  His blog, "Coach.Teach.Lead", contains more coaching and leadership resources.

What's Worked For Me (So Far)

CREATING BASKETBALL OPPORTUNITIES

I’ve been very fortunate as a young basketball coach to have landed a number of amazing basketball opportunities. A few of these include Duke basketball camp, UCLA camp, Georgia State Basketball Camp, Snow Valley Iowa Basketball School, working for PGC/Glazier Clinics, USA Basketball Clinics, Social Media interning for Kevin Eastman (former NBA assistant coach), and a trip to the final four. I’ve also been very fortunate to have coaches like Don Showalter and Kevin Eastman to trust me to do a good job when they bring me on board.

A number of coaches have asked me the question, “How did you land that?” Or, “How did you get connected with them?” Many ask for the purpose of trying to land similar opportunities. This article is a response to those questions.

My primary aim in this article is to give coaches who want some basketball opportunities a few ideas on what may help them by describing what’s worked so far for me. I’ll also talk about the financial aspect of my journey and share a few ideas worth considering about money, because like many young coaches, I also do not have access to a money tree.

But first… The reason I put (So Far) in the title is to be clear that I am not proclaiming myself to be a deep well of pure professional wisdom. I have a career win total that equals the amount of children some coaches reading this have. Ok, I’m slightly kidding. Unless you have 12 children… then you officially have me beat. But I’m closing in fast. Ha!

Hopefully you caught the fun at the end of that paragraph. Seriously, this is my journey so far and hopefully some reading coaches will benefit and get some ideas on how they can create opportunities for their coaching career.

 Clete Adelman, Mason Waters, Bill Van Gundy

Clete Adelman, Mason Waters, Bill Van Gundy

DUKE BASKETBALL CAMP

I first got involved with Duke Basketball Camp as a camper about a decade ago. And I was a phenomenal camper (which I must say is a slight distinction from being a phenomenal player). I connected with many camp coaches and even impressed the camp director so much that he remembered me… nearly 10 years later.

I emailed the camp staff in late 2014 about working camp the next summer, in 2015. I got denied.

The next year I sent another email application. I was told I was being considered. Then the deal breaker game.

A friend and I went to the University of Georgia to watch the Bulldogs take on High Point in an early season contest. As my buddy and I questionably snuck our way closer to the court, I noticed a familiar ESPN announcer. It was Duke’s Camp Director who also happens to work for ESPN.

After the game, I approached the announcer’s booth to say hello, and that I had applied this summer for camp. Security was telling me and my friend to exit the building. I persisted and said, “I know the announcer, I’m just saying hello.” They let me hang around a few more seconds.

After the ESPN team wrapped up their coverage, I quickly said hello to the camp director and mentioned I had applied again to coach at camp.

“Wow! I remember you as a camper” he replied. “I’m glad you came up and said hello because now I know that you’re not just some Joe blow off the street. We’ll get you on.”

I don’t know how many people that you want to work for also commentate for ESPN, but if he does, find what game he’s calling next, go to that school, and stay after. Ok, I’m kidding about that, but this is how I got connected at Duke camp.  

UCLA BASKETBALL CAMP

Now that I’m writing this out, I’m finally realizing how one door opens another, and that door opens another, and that door opens another, and on and on. UCLA was one of my most recent basketball opportunities and it makes sense to me to do this thing backwards.

I met Jim Harrick, former UCLA Head Coach, at a 2016 PGC/Glazier clinic in Dallas.

Quick side note: I’ve had people assume I come from a wealthy family and they just pay for me to travel all over the place and do these basketball things. The truth is that I do have very supportive and encouraging parents, but I am by no means rich. My mother does a phenomenal job supporting me financially but it’s not like I can do anything I want or go anywhere I want. My parents have been divorced for most of my life. My dad, unemployed since 2008, now lives in a camper in north Georgia and my mother is a school teacher. I’m a full-time college student. We’re not poor, but certainly not rich. I’ll get into some of my financial beliefs and how that’s played into these opportunities later.

So I meet Jim Harrick in Dallas at PGC/Glazier clinic in fall of 2016. A friend of mine, Faiz Ahmed, and I were talking in July 2016 about the benefits of volunteering at basketball clinics; you get in for free (save money!), and might get unique access to speakers and staff of the clinic. This rings true.

After that conversation I researched basketball clinics in Atlanta. I knew of PGC so I reached out to them about their Atlanta clinic. I’m from Atlanta, so I figured I could volunteer at the clinic, get free admission, and just take the 45-minute drive back and forth from my house each day. They exceeded my expectations: They paid for my hotel allowing me to stay in Atlanta during the entire clinic. That allowed me to begin a relationship (not like we’re best friends but we know each other) with an individual who I think is one of the best coaches in basketball period, Mike Neighbors of Washington and now Arkansas. He, myself, and some other coaches stayed at the same hotel and went out in the night and talked hoops for a few hours.

During the Atlanta clinic, I asked PGC/Glazier staff if they needed help at their Dallas, Texas clinic, which would be the next week… Like in 6 days. Fortunately they said yes., they needed help.

Just like the Atlanta clinic, PGC/Glazier covered my hotel and entry to the clinic so all I had to do was pay for the flight and find cheap food (While in Dallas I walked about two miles to a McDonalds  during breaks because that was by far cheaper than the hotel food and Uber costs money, walking is free).

If you don’t know about PGC/Glazier, you need to because they are really good. Their clinics have multiple sessions Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and will have multiple speakers presenting at once (all in different rooms of course).  Going into Dallas and looking over their speaker lineup, I knew had to be Jim Harrick’s room host. Not only did he win a national championship, he also coached in my home state of Georgia at the University of Georgia and I also figured he might have some influence in getting me into working UCLA’s camp, a position I applied for last summer and did not get.

Another side note: Persistence is key! The first time I applied at Duke and UCLA I was denied. And I am in no way unique here. Countless coaches have persisted when they weren’t given the jobs they wanted.

I told PGC/Glazier that my one request was to be Jim Harrick’s room host. In other words, room hosts are the speaker’s host. We get them water, papers, pens, anything they need. Being a coaches room host also allows for small talk between the sessions. Amazingly, the clinic staff allowed me to host Coach Harrick. By the way, he is a character and great clinician!

At PGC/Glazier I learned that In 1996, Jim Harrick hired the guy who is today’s UCLA camp director. That’s some leverage! Jim reached out to the camp director on my behalf and got me in!

SNOW VALLEY BASKETBALL SCHOOL

Now let’s go backwards in this story. If you noticed I mentioned a conversation I had with Faiz Ahmed, who, by the way, is going to be a phenomenal NBA coach one day. But I hope he and I are on the same college staff one day.

The conversation we had was at Snow Valley Basketball School in Iowa. How did I get that opportunity?

This story is shorter and much more simple. I went to Coaching U Live in Orlando for two summers and met Don Showalter there, the head coach for the USA junior national teams and also the camp director at Snow Valley Basketball School. I also attended PGC/Glazier Atlanta in 2015 (as a guest, not support staff) and got lunch with Coach Showalter there. By seeing me at those two clinics, I guess he noticed I was a fairly dedicated young coach and he invited me to coach at Snow Valley! And of course I said yes.

A FEW OTHER THINGS THAT HAVE HELPED ME

A BUDGET FOR SUCCESS

Kevin Eastman, one of the best givers to coaches, talked about this recently at his Elite Training Camp last week but I promise I was doing it before I also heard it from him. Beginning my first year of college, I always budget my money, and one of the budgets I have is a basketball budget: it allows me to pay for coaching DVDs, clinics, gas when I go visit a practice, etc.

Each paycheck I get (which is never that much) goes like this, and I learned this from mentors at my church: Give some, save some, live on the rest.

Give 10% to the church or some of my favorite charities. Save/invest about 60%. Live on the rest.

For me, retirement saving has not begun nor have I started saving for my future kids college. Shoot, I’m still in college! Yet, investment for me in my financial plan mostly means invest in myself, my career, and my development. That includes paying for basketball clinics, DVDs, etc.

This past summer this meant taking the money I made from a previous camp to pay for the expenses of the next. For example, I coached a showcase event early this summer. I didn’t spend that money on shoes, my car, or my girlfriend, I saved it and invested it into paying for travel expenses to the next camp.

Not only that, I also started a lawn care company (I use the word company very lightly haha) with my best friend. Almost every single dollar I’ve made from there either went straight to my savings to pay off my final year of college debt-free, or it went straight into my basketball ventures.

Financial Side Note: Older coaches reading this will know this, but some young coaches might not have thought about this. This is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned: Financial freedom allows you to do the things you want to do. Debt limits opportunities. No debt opens opportunities. One of the best decisions I’ve made was going to a very affordable in-state university. My college experience has not been the stereotypical American college experience, meaning it hasn’t been a lot of what they call “college fun”, but its been a good education and most importantly, affordable. And I’m so thankful it has been.

If you have financial excuses for why you can’t go to a clinic or a basketball event but all you do is buy ten pairs of sneakers a month or buy 4 concert tickets a month, then you are the only person holding you back. Saying “no” to luxury allows an individual to say “yes” to opportunity. And with enough opportunity, luxury just might have its way of showing up on the backside.

I haven’t seen this among many young coaches, but I have a number of friends who are complaining about not getting a certain job, or not being able to get a shot at anything when all they do is spend their money on their car or boat or girlfriend. Money is absolutely vital in professional advancement because it affords an individual to invest in themselves. Without it, people very much limit their professional opportunities because they can’t buy any products or services to develop!

EBAY

My primary financial goals throughout college have been 1) Graduate debt-free and 2) Invest in my basketball career. One huge help in that has been eBay, Amazon, and Facebook Marketplace, and flipping items from thrift stores. What I’ll do now is show you a few items that I have flipped and profited from for the purpose of investing in my basketball career. Hopefully this gets you thinking of ways to make some extra money to invest in your development.

REI Backpacks – I am as interested in camping, fishing, and outdoors activities about as much as Kim Kardashian is. Well, she at least to appears to not spend much time in the wilderness. But I have found a good item to make money off of. That is hiking packs from REI.

A friend of mine invited me to REI, an outdoor gear store, about two years ago to their scratch and dent sale; their clearance sale. I went just for fun. However, while there, I began to think that a lot of those items could definitely be flipped online. So I did my research. Long story short, I have gone to three REI Scratch and Dent sales and profited a few hundred bucks off of it.

These sales attract a large crowd, so to get a good spot in line at these sales, I typically get up at 4 something to be sure I’m the first one in the door. The packs sell really well on eBay so I go straight for them when I get in the door. I’ll grab a few of them off the rack and make sure they’re not torn up too bad. Then I’ll buy them and have them listed on eBay the same day. Some I buy for $70 and sell on eBay for $140. Sell three of those plus a few other miscellaneous items and it’s a $250+ profit in one morning. Definitely beats minimum wage!

Another popular item I’ve flipped are ab lounges. The best flip I’ve done with these was pretty awesome. I found a $3 ab lounge at a Goodwill and had it listed on Facebook yard sale sites the same day. It sold for $85. That’s $82 just by swinging by a goodwill on my way home, listing it online, and meeting the person for pickup. Once again, that surely meets minimum wage.

The last item I’ll mention was a MacBook. I’m a member of several yard sale sites on Facebook. I noticed a macbook on one of the pages going for $50 and just felt in my gut, this is a steal. Without even doing any research, I messaged the seller and bought it the next day. I listed it on eBay and a week or two later it sold for $11,550. Hahaha no I’m kidding. It sold for $150. But still, $100 profit isn’t bad.

Now why am I mentioning this? I mention these items because explaining in detail some things I’ve flipped may give coaches some better insight into how to make some side money to invest in their careers. For me, a specific description of a few different items is better that just hearing “Go flip stuff.”

THAT'S ALL FOR NOW

Sincerely, I hope this adds value to somebody. God has blessed me with these opportunities. And more importantly than these opportunities are the people I’ve met and now call friends. He has also blessed me with people in my life who have taught me the lessons mentioned above. I didn’t come up with any of this stuff or tactics, I just listened to wise people who I want to be like. Sometimes life is pretty simple, we just find a way of making it hard sometimes.

If you are a coach looking for more opportunity or have any questions about anything written here, I’d sincerely love to hear from you. I’m not a huge influencer in the basketball world, but I’d be happy to see if I could connect you with people I know. Or I’d love to talk with you about making side money because I know an extra couple hundreds of bucks could go a long way for some coaches.

Feel free to tweet me at @masonwaters_, email me at mason1waters@gmail.com or call/text at 678) 656-6957. I’d love to hear from you.

Thank you for reading!

MASON WATERS

 Jay Bilas Skills Camp

Jay Bilas Skills Camp

 

 

Owning The Unknown

LIFE IS A PROCESS

The statement, “Life is a process”, is something we hear all the time. Every day we get to wake up is a piece of the process we call life. As I talk with the youths of this generation and also many adults, I hear the same repetitive words come from many mouths. Those words are, 

I fear the unknown and don’t have much patience in my life.

I hear these words consistently and I want to enlighten anyone reading this that has those words stuck in their head every day. We currently live in a world that is becoming so accustomed to instant gratification that it is trickling down into how people approach and deal with their futures.

First, if you are scared of dealing with the unknown, right now you must come to grips with the reality that you have NO CHOICE but to deal with the unknowns of life. This is life we are talking about right now. Stop fearing life and the unknown of your future. Start living confidently and have confidence in who you are. Be confident in the fact that you have so much life to live rather than fearing the years you have ahead!

RIGHT NOW, start being grateful for everything you have and understand that you can handle anything that is thrown at you in life. RIGHT NOW, stop envying other people and things. Honestly, STOP acting like the unknown in life has any control over you. Start owning the unknown!


Larry Taylor is the founder of Vertical Vision and a graduate assistant for the men's basketball program at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida.  His playing career consisted of stops at Liberty University, Bob Jones University, and Southeastern University.

Why Do You Play?

I was recently eating dinner with one of my teammates when he asked me, “Why do you keep playing?” I smiled and said, “That’s an easy one. Because of you guys.” My teammate looked back at me not knowing how to respond to that. But that got me thinking, and that’s a question I want to ask you—Why do you play?

My name is Robert Horn. I’m a 5’ 10” senior at Bob Jones University in South Carolina. I walked-on my freshman year and have played less than 100 career minutes. I’ve only scored 12 points in my college career. Knowing that, you now see why my teammate asked me that. It was a fair question, and its one that I’ve often asked myself.

Why do I play?

Why do I put myself through the grueling grind of college basketball only to ride the pine?

Because of my teammates and the opportunity I have to build relationships with them and make an impact on their lives. I know a lot of guys say that, especially when they are being recruited, but it’s a whole other thing when you’re forced to live it out. This is something that God’s been teaching me throughout my entire college career. If I was here only to “get mine” or for my own personal success, I would have quit my freshman year to play intramurals—and believe me, I almost did. And again sophomore year. And again junior year. But through this process, God has been showing me that basketball is so much more than scoring 20 points a night or playing 35 minutes per game. Basketball isn’t about me. Basketball is just a tool God’s graciously given me to be able to connect with guys who others can’t and in ways that no one else can. This opportunity didn’t come by me pouting on the bench or slacking in the gym—No, I earned guys respect by working harder then them though I saw less on-court opportunities than them. I earned guys respect by showing them support and excitement at their personal success and the team’s success rather than whining over my lack of PT. It was not easy and I struggled with it at different times. But when took my eyes off myself and aligned my perspective to what God called me, I found myself thankful and satisfied for the opportunity rather than selfish over unfulfilled desires. God has shown me that basketball isn’t about my glory, but about His. It’s a platform to serve Him for where He’s called me.

FOUR YEARS AGO

Four years agoI would have told you that a college career spent on the bench was a waste. But God has used these last four years to radically change me in such incredible ways. He has humbled me, convicting me of prideful desires for my own glory over the success of my teammates and the team.  He has revealed my selfishness in caring about my own athletic success over the welfare of my teammates hearts and souls. He has given me the opportunity to be a leader from the bottom, rather than someone who sticks out as the most skilled player or physically dominate person.

THE BEST PART

But the best part is that what God has taught me through basketball will carry over to life. Life isn’t about me or my success or my happiness or my glory. It’s about Someone so much greater me—God! I think it is awesome that we refer to our teams as family because our relationship with God is also portrayed as a family. God has given us the opportunity to be on His team, but we have to accept that we are not the superstar—He is! Just like we could spend 4 years chasing after PT and records, we can spend our lives chasing our own glory and satisfaction and end up wasting it on ourselves! Or we can examine our heart’s motives and take our eyes off of ourselves and finally realize why we are alive —to bring God glory. If we are Christians, we are called to follow after Jesus (Luke 9:23). Jesus’s goal was to bring the Father glory (John 17:4). Bringing God glory, not ourselves, is why we were created. So look at the gifts God has given you and ask yourself why you do them. It may be basketball, it may be music, it could be art—whatever it is, do it to the glory of God, not yourself (1 Corinthians 10:31)!

MY HOPE

My hope is that my story will cause you to examine your heart, and change your mentality as you head into next season. Ask yourself today, “Why do I play?”

Which Do You Love More?

Lord, don’t let my gifts take me farther than my character can sustain me.
— Mark Batterson

DREAMERS ARE EVERYWHERE.

No matter what career you are invested in or what goals you envision yourself accomplishing in the future, you are probably the type of person that is passionate about the process required to realize your dream.  You are a gifted individual with unique talents that separate you from the rest of the pack.  

But if you're anything like me, sometimes the dream God gave you takes precedent over the God who gave you the dream.  You get so wrapped up in the work and excitement of pursuing it you forget to acknowledge the reason you're able to pursue your dream in the first place.  

In his book, All In, Mark Batterson writes a brilliant excerpt about the Gift Giver.  

"If the gift ever becomes more important than the Gift Giver, then the very thing God gave you to serve His purposes is undermining His plan for your life.  God is no longer the End All and Be All.  And when God becomes the means to some other end, it's the beginning of the end spiritually because you have inverted the gospel.

God-given gifts are wonderful things and dangerous things.  One of my recurrent prayers is this: 'Lord, don't let my gifts take me farther than my character can sustain me.'  As we cultivate the gifts God has given us, we can begin to rely on those gifts instead of relying on God.  That's when our greatest strength becomes our greatest weakness."

I know in the game of basketball it can be very easy to rely on our gifts rather than on the One who gave us those gifts.  Sport is one of the easiest places for people to become prideful and believe they are accomplishing their dreams because of their talents.  I want to challenge you to love the God who gave you your dream and know the gifts allowing you to be successful were given to you by Him.  When the tests come into our life we are given the opportunity to rely on God and put an awesome testimony on display.  Keep taking action to acknowledge the Gift Giver and you will be amazed how your dreams will begin to come true as you pursue the process!