I coach. I coach 8th grade girls basketball. I coach 8 grade girls basketball with a team full of girls who do not want to play. This used to be the punchline to my coaching jokes, but this season it has been just downright frustrating. Several of girls were on my team last year, which finished up 3-9 (to read about that team, click here.) We have two games left in the season and this year we are 1-10. The record is less important; the girls play Division III and are much more social players than ball players. And in all fairness, I did know this going into it this year. The entire season I’ve encouraged effort over results. The final score doesn’t matter, but effort put forth does. Aggressiveness has been replaced by passiveness, tenacity replaced by apathy, and what’s left at the end of each game is 8 girls who tell me they can’t wait for their basketball careers to be over. I sat them down at practice last night, determined to find the cause of the change in their attitudes this season, and came up short. When asked why they signed up for the team, and what they wanted to get out of the season, one girl looked at me and said, “Well, Coach, we knew it was Division III and we thought we would be better than anybody. We didn’t think we’d have to try.” Ok… fair enough, (I guess)… When pressed for further details, another girl looked at me and said “We just don’t want to play basketball.” When asked what I could do to make them want to play, the response was overwhelmingly, “Nothing really, we just don’t want to play.”
Seriously?! My parents instilled in me and my siblings a Yoda-esque work ethic that consisted of ‘Do or do not, there is no try.’ Go out there, try your very hardest, give it all you have, if you do those three things, the results become almost irrelevant. Walking on the floor, and mere half-efforts would have been met with scorn and disdain. Not to even try would have been seen as a sign of disrespect to my parents and coaches. I’ve read coaching articles, researched drills, and spoke with my old athletic director and the advice tends to be all the same… that I can old do so much, at some point they have to meet me half-way and they have to want to succeed. While I understand that, I’m not sure I accept it. How can I reach these girls? At this point, it’s not just about basketball but about how to live your life as well. How do I make them understand that?!
— one frustrated whistle blower