Saturday, December 7, 2013

Iron Sharpens Iron: A basketball flashback

Surrounding one-self with good people, great friends, strong mentors and inspiring peers amounts to one thing---Iron sharpening iron.
My childhood friend and I battle 1on1 at JL Crowe Secondary School-- our old high-school gym in Trail BC. It's something we probably did thousands of times 20 years ago. That was back when we were bringing the city and the school it's first and only provincial basketball championship. No man has ever pushed me to the limits both mentally and physically like he did. I owe him a lot. Fast forward several years later---Professional and collegiate athletic careers are over and both of our lives have evolved past the athletic focus. Now we just stay in shape just in case we're in the same place, at the same time and there's a ball and a hoop! Then it's on. The picture was taken by his wife, who must have been shocked at how intense and reckless two grown men were competing against each other. We didn't prepare her... On the way up to the school we might have lied to her and said, "We're just going to shoot some hoops." It was all lies. A stranger walking into the gym would have thought we were bitter enemies. And in truth, while we we're playing, we are. I don't like him and I know he doesn't like me. The level of dirty-ness was obscene. Perhaps that's the reason his wife didn't want my innocent Godson watching the madness. Didn't matter I'm sure he felt it in his DNA. A crowd of high-school students gathered around, no doubt wondering what all the shouting and swearing was about. We don't play above the rim like we used to. Neither of us can fly anymore, I lost my wings years ago... in front of everyone. But there's still enough in the tank in both men, that you could get dunked on if you get caught slipping. Two best friends, 30 years of no holds bard competition---Still pushing each other to the limit. Too much fun. When it was all over we hugged, and congratulated each other...Just like we used to. Perhaps more amicably now than we did 20 years ago. Back then, we used to limp off the court from battle bruises. Now, we limp off the court from bad backs, joint pain and arthritic knees. Either way... Some things never change. Iron Sharpens Iron It's competition like this that inspired me to write sport fiction, and specifically, my latest piece, entitled "HUSTLE" for Lorimer Publishing Kids Sports series---HUSTLE is scheduled to be published in the beginning of 2014. I'll keep you posted when it's out!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

NFL and Rod Woodson Touchdown in Vancouver

As exciting, awe inspiring and motivational as the NFL on field product is, perhaps even more so is the NFL’s off field product. For years the NFL and its players and representatives have invested in the youth of America with several programs geared to bring the game to the grass roots level and to uplift the younger generations and strengthen communities.
In the wake of the NHL lockout, residents of Vancouver were treated to a familiar yet different sporting experience. This weekend, the NFL and Hall of Famer Rod Woodson touched down in Vancouver, British Columbia, with an NFL extravaganza that those in attendance won’t soon forget. One thing that stood out was the amount of fun and excitement on faces of the kids and parents who partook in the NFL experience. The NFL couldn’t have chosen a better representative in Hall of Famer Rod Woodson. Woodson took to the field and his larger than life personality made the event a huge success. You may have noticed how this young footballer gave Woodson the Aaron Rodgers "Double-Checked" after the TD. Classic. I had an opportunity to speak with Rod Woodson about his involvement in bringing the NFL experience north of the border to the grass roots of Canada. Woodson is no stranger to helping communities, for well over a decade Woodson was instrumental in running football camps and youth mentor-ship programs with other NFL pros in his hometown in the USA. On bringing the NFL brand to Vancouver and Canada Woodson remarked in his trademark carefree manner,
"It’s been fun. People are really receptive to the NFL and the game. Of course, our game is a little different from the Canadian game, which takes some getting used to, just like anything else. It’s been great to get out here and bring the NFL to the grass roots."
This weekend’s event was just one of the many activities the NFL has been conducting north of the border. George Dudas, Director of Marketing and Partnership Services for NFL Canada spoke with excitement and enthusiasm about the wonderful initiatives the NFL has been able to do here in the Lower Mainland with youths. George's face lit up when he described how recently, Golden Tate from the Seattle Seahawks took part in the NFL's “Take a Player to School” campaign in the Lower Mainland. Dudas illustrated how The NFL’s "Take a Player to School" campaign really strengthens communities as it focuses on inspiring youth to make the most of their in-school and after-school time and encourages them to make smart and healthy choices. Players engage the students and encourage them to set goals and work to achieve them. Needless to say, goal setting is an integral part of youth development. As part of the campaign, Golden Tate came and spent the day with a local family here in the Lower Mainland. He had breakfast with them, played catch with their children and then took the kids to their elementary school (Cougar Canyon) in a limo! The school was invigorated by his presence and the students made Golden Tate murals to welcome the Seattle Seahawks star. The host family also received tickets to watch the Seahawks take on Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in what turned out to be a classic showdown. I spoke with Jason, the father of the family, and he said the entire experience was unbelievable for his family, the kids, the school staff and the community. According to Jason:
“It certainly made a lot of new young fans of the NFL”
Programs like NFL Play 60 which encourage youths to be active and engage in a minimum of 60 minutes of exercise daily, have served to both spread the love of football and physical wellness, and is just one of the many reasons why the NFL is king among professional sports in America. South of the border, these types of NFL programs are widespread, however, at the moment, they are limited to only a handful of Canadian communities. To me, there’s no greater gift that can be made to a community than an investment in the youth and future generations. It’s certainly something I’m committed to doing with The Dream Hoops Academy and it’s encouraging to see a major household brand like the NFL investing in our local communities.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

John Boateng: Dream Hoops Academy Training

John Boateng: Dream Hoops Academy Training

Dream Hoops Academy Training

Halfway through the summer Club season and I'm pleased see the Dream Hoops Academy Club Teams getting better each day. As Co founder of Dream Hoops Academy, I'm a believer in luck. We're lucky to have the type of kids we have in our Academy in our inaugural season. That being said, on the court, luck is earned. The harder you work the more luck you seem to have. Luck is quite simply what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Coach Jason Noel and the Young Man Rumble Cross-fit/Strength and Conditioning program has done wonders for our player development. Can't say enough about the professionalism and expertise of Coach Jason Noel. Coach Jason pushes our players and doesn't accept anything less than maximum effort. If you truly want to excel on the court, getting stronger off the court is paramount to that goal. The Harder you Train The Harder you are to Beat. There's no substitute for Hard Work.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hold On, Be Strong, Move On

With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season sometimes we can find ourselves a little overwhelmed.

So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, beat down, or you just plain have the holiday blues, here’s a little exercise in positive thinking that might help. Hold on, be Strong and Move on. And move forward.

If you find yourself down and out, sometimes it helps to just take a moment, pause and reflect on your situation. It could be bad, but is it the worst thing ever? Can you get through this? Have you gotten through worse?

They say people don’t stumble over trees and mountains, they trip on weeds and rocks.

That's what "they" say, but to some of us, there's a huge mountain in our face, blocking our path. There’s only one thing to do, only one option. Too high to get over, too low to get under...Better get your hiking boots!

Maybe you have heard the phrase that “God never gives you anything you can’t handle.”
Well, I’ve read the bible multiple times, never once have I seen that written anywhere. So scrap that.

What I did find was a powerful verse in Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

All things, not some, all. You have to like that, THAT you can work with.

When things don’t go as planned and you’re hanging on by a thread, take a page from Franklin D. Roosevelt, who said,

“When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”

There’s always hurdles, there’s always setbacks, perseverance is always the key.
It was Albert Einstein who said “It’s not that I am so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

I don’t know about that Albert... E=MC2, theory of relativity...He was pretty damn smart. But the point remains the same genius or not, persevere.

You can’t persevere without hope. And you can’t have hope if you don’t believe. Believe things will improve, hope they will, and persevere until they do.

Look at the NFL right now, particularly at what Tim Tebow, aka God’s QB aka the “Mile High Messiah,” is doing in Denver. By now you should have heard his story...To summarize, He wins, period. Six straight to be exact.

Recently Team President John Elway said in the Denver Post about Tebow and the Broncos, "Everyone believes that something good's going to happen...And, obviously, Tim's been the guy that's led that thinking. He's just such a strong believer. He's really got everyone else believing if you stay strong, stay positive, something good's going to happen...When guys are thinking that way — and it's been led by Timmy with that positive attitude — all boats have been rising with that."

So if you’re feeling down today, overwhelmed, or just flat out defeated, take a moment, cry, shout, punch a bag, go for a jog, do whatever you need to do to clear your head. Then get back on the saddle of life, strap in, stay positive and keep on riding until you get to that sunset. It’s just a little further.

Hold On, Be Strong, Move On. And move forward.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Coaching Youth Basketball: Great Coaches are Mentors

“No written word, no spoken plea can teach our youth what they should be, nor all the books on all the shelves...It’s what the teachers are themselves.”

John Wooden cited this powerful verse as part of what he re-defined as success. This small verse speaks volumes to the obligations that Coaches have to their young players.

As Coaches we have the opportunity and the privilege to mentor the youth and provide them with lessons and principles that will not only make them better basketball players, but better people. We have an opportunity to provide young boys and girls with a tool box for life.

Some of my favourite quotes from the legendary Coach John Wooden include:

“Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

“Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.”

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”

“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”

“If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything. I'm positive that a doer makes mistakes.”

This isn’t X’s and O’s....As I have eluded to in the past, winning is a philosophy that extends far beyond the painted lines of the basket-ball court. At UCLA, John Wooden won more than any coach, though he never talked about winning, his philosophy was that of a winner in life.

In the video below, Wooden quotes from a very inspiring poem by George Joseph Moriarty, entitled “From the Road Ahead and the Road Behind.”

“Sometimes I think the Fates must
Grin as we denounce and insist
The only reason we can’t win
Is the Fates themselves that miss

Yet there lives on an ancient claim
We win or lose within ourselves
The shining trophies on our shelves
Can never win tomorrow’s game

You and I know deeper down
There’s always a chance to win the crown
But when we fail to give our best
We simply haven’t met the test
Of giving all, and saving none
Until the game is really won

Of showing what is meant by grit
Of fighting on when others quit
Of playing through, not letting up
It’s bearing down that wins the cup

Of taking it and taking more
Until we gain the winning score
Of dreaming there’s a goal ahead
Of hoping when our dreams are dead
Of praying when our hopes have fled

Yet losing, not afraid to fall
If bravely, we have given all
For who can ask more of a man
Than giving all within his span

Giving all, it seems to me
Is not so far from victory
And so the Fates are seldom wrong
No matter how they twist and wind
It is you and I who make our fates
We open up or close the gates
On the road ahead or the road behind."

It's all about helping the youth reach their full potential. That's a victory on the scoreboard of life.

Here’s John Wooden on success.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Coaching Youth Basketball: Can't Never Could Win

"Can't" never could win. "Can't" never could do anything.

Just how powerful is will power? "The phrase "where there's a will there's a way" has become cliche, but it's more than a phrase and when Coaching Youth Basket-ball, will power is a concept that should be taught, as it should be taught in all sports.

Legendary Coach Vincent T Lombardi once said, "The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will."

You may have also heard it said somewhere that the winners in life think constantly in terms of I can, I WILL, and I am. Losers, on the other hand, concentrate their waking thoughts on what they should have or would have done, or what they can't do.

Can't never could.

What it amounts to is a state of mind and ultimately a state of being. I call it a champion state of being. Players who fail to take hold of this concept are ultimately afraid or perhaps, unwilling, to try, for fear of failure. The fear in many cases comes from some perceived ineptitude that the player may or may not possess. One can never know what one can do or cannot do unless one simply tries.

But that's just the beginning. In order to truly try, to truly give yourself a chance at success, you really have to believe you can do something, otherwise you're just hoping.

Once again, we are at that point where sport meets real life, where a lesson of will power mastered on the athletic field can carry over into the office, a marriage, a PHd, a daily cross fit workout, a mid-term, or even baking a freaking cake, dunking for your students...actually scratch the last one, but the point is always the same... (INSERT OWN Challenge Here).

All things being equal, the player/team with the stronger will, wins. People will say "they wanted it more," and talk about "how they out-hustled" or "did the dirty things"...but it all boils down to will power.

So it follows the principle that teaching the youngsters the power of will and the power of exerting their will on the game in which they are trying to learn is paramount for their future individual success and the success of their team.

It's not a stretch to realize that the player who is able to successfully exert his will on the game when he chooses, not only grows in confidence, but is more likely to be clutch when the game is on the line.

Any coach who has watched his team finally "get it" and finally reach their true potential knows it's a special thing to watch the whole team do this. Coaches you know the times, it's beautiful isn't it when it seems like even the last person on the bench that you put on the floor is going out there and making big plays. It can happen in the blink of any eye, where all of sudden every player wants it so badly, all the practice, all the teaching and all the hard work gels and each player seemingly turns legend...Even if it's just for a half, it's a beautiful thing.

If only you can get them to play like that all the time. Hey, Coaches need to exert their will too!