Do not get caught up on the title – it has meaning, which I will explain later. It is not a cry for compliments. Believe me I have enough confidence.
This is the first of two blogs that have been circling my mind for weeks. Both inspired by the great athletes, volunteers and coaches I get to work with – and the community of giving back. As many of you may know I am against Big Government. I know people help people. People make the difference. People invoke change. People motivate and People inspire.
This year we decided to take a new team to State Games for basketball. It was the right decision and I knew it was from the beginning. Athletes that were either new or never have experienced State Games. Athletes that would have their first big opportunity to shine in the light. Now its a blog and I have to be honest. I am a bit competitive. I like winning. I love having the best teams and seeing them win Gold. However, this is not about me it is about the athletes and bringing a new group to State Games not only would provide them with an opportunity to grow as athletes, they could participate in Healthy Athlete and Olympic Village. We had 6 athletes get their eyes checked and qualify for new sports googles. This is what Special Olympics offers and I am proud to be a small part of the program.
We put together a new team and entered local tournaments. Needless to say they did not dominate, in fact they were not winning or scoring. I know how to motivate my upper teams and what those players understand but this was new for them and me. Luckily we have a great coaching staff who remained committed. We were committed to taking this team even it meant ending our streak of State Gold Medals. We were going to State Games as Champions and returning as Champions – because we know there is more to being a Champion then winning.
After the first two tournaments I knew I needed help. So we decided to employ our upper team to help us prepare this team. This meant the upper team had to give up their floor time to help us coach this team. I cannot express how proud I am of the entire group. They are all Champions, Champions in everything they do. They understand team – and how we are a family. Dwayne did a great job coaching, Tyler and Oscar – unbelievable work everyday, pushing and challenging the team. I was along for the ride as usual.
Come State Games we are to face teams that had previously beat us – not by a little but by huge margins. My limited job is to do the pre-game speech and then move to the end of the bench out of the way. I kept my composure got the team up – broke as champions and let the coaching staff do their job.
What followed was amazing – total and complete dominance. Teamwork I had never seen from this group. Arms Up. Playing their zone. Talking to each other. Passing. Working. Scoring. In the end – they won every game by a wide margin and brought home a Gold Medal.
So what is this “I Am Nobody”? It is a tribute and thank you….. To Oscar and Tyler for their daily commitment to making all of the athletes the best they can be. Not just on the court, but as adults. As a team. As individuals. See we challenge our athletes. As coaches we play against them. We push them – push them hard. We taunt them so they know how to keep their cool. To play through adversity. To huddle together as a team and regroup. So one day – as we played the athletes, after a score – Oscar pounds his chest and taunts the athletes yelling “I am nobody”. So I stole it as a motivation. Who knows why those words came out. I know use them in my mind. If I can sit back and be nobody, I am doing my job.
Thank you to the teams, the coaches, the staff, the trainers and job coaches. Everyone that supports our program. I love being nobody and it works.