As coaches, we get these young people for hours a day, 6 days a week. We should know them. We have to know them. More importantly, we have to get them to know themselves. And their teammates. So, on some days, we should put the basketballs, baseballs, footballs, and equipment away to learn. On some days, the classroom is where you get better. On some days, the locker room is where you get better. On those days, we learn. Today’s subject? History. They are all a part of our history. 15 young people. 20 young people. 50 young people. Their families are tied together in this American thing, this melting pot of travelers, wanderers, outcasts, survivors and winners. This pool of survivors, strangers, families, and royalty.
How do I know this? They told me. They told me and others about their ancestor’s journeys. They were all journeys. All from somewhere else. Actually, several somewhere else’s. They talked of The Mayflower, Ellis Island, Korea, Cuba, Italy, Germany, Ireland, England, Argentina, Gullah Island, France, Columbia, Mexico, Scotland, Africa, China, Vietnam, and more. We talked about Castro, Sickle Cell, every great war, every great migration, and several trips by boat. We talked about love stories and sad stories, success stories and failures.
We talked about geography and geology. We talked about each other and ourselves. And we talked about heroes. And warriors. And politics. And again, love. Being loved enough to have ancestors dream of a better life, fight for a better life, create a better life, and survive. Being loved by family enough to change countries, continents, and even names. And being loved by a country that was flawed and changed for the better. A country that welcomed the unwanted, and hugged the unlovable. A country that is supposed to be about the circle of mutts, mongrels and regal. A country that gave them a chance to build a home for these young people of all colors, creeds and religions to sit in a circle, laughing, sharing, and loving each other.
They will make that same country better. Today, they learned why they are here, how they got here, and why it is important. They will now pay more attention to the history being taught. It’s their story. It’s their history. And their future. What a great day of learning.
The easiest way to connect is sharing. A team that will study together, ask questions together, learn answers together, will win together. Shared IQ and Intelligence. Each one is smarter with another. Quite often, the ball court is a classroom. Connections don't just happen. They happen by choice. They happen by planning. They happen when people care. Care enough to ask, care enough to listen, care enough to tell, and care enough to share.
When this is done, we know more. Knowing more means caring more. Caring more means sharing more. When we know who we are, who we all are, we are better for it.
That is true, on the field of play and off. That’s what learning and loving through sports is all about.