A Welcome Lesson
One of the things I enjoy most outside of work is coaching my daughter's youth basketball team. I have been doing this on and off over the past 10 years and find it really fun and rewarding to teach the dozen or so 10- and 11-year-old wide-eyed, silly and chatty girls a few things about playing a game they all really seem to enjoy. It's also an opportunity for me to give back in some small way to my community. I have seen too many fun childhood experiences ruined by the overzealous.
Our team is doing well this season. We are currently 9-1 but I really don't believe it would be catastrophic to any of them if we were up or down in the loss column. They have great attitudes and are all learning new things, running plays (thanks Coach Greenberg for your tips!), hustling, cheering, laughing and generally enjoying the travel to games and hanging out with each other. It's a great diversion for me, too, and a bit less stressful than watching any of our games here!
I'd like you to introduce you to Sarah, a scrappy guard who is on the floor much more so than not. On this particular Sunday, we travel to a nearby town for an early morning game. We arrive early and I'm greeted by the coach from the opposing team who introduces himself and informs me that his girls are just beginning to play basketball. I think it's an effort on his part to brace us for what could be a long game. And he is right on. From the opening tip, it's clear that the teams are not evenly matched... and to Sarah's great credit, it really doesn't matter. Our team jumps out to a quick 12-point lead and, judging by the ease in which we are scoring, I decide we should call timeout. I have had the great fortune to play for some very good and thoughtful coaches in my day and this game had embarrassing written all over it. I thought that the timeout might be an opportunity to talk to the girls about sportsmanship. Well, I didn't need to do that... Sarah would handle it.
Sarah comes to the huddle and suggests that "we play the girls who don't always play the most" and that we don't want to "embarrass the girls who are just learning to play." The huddle went silent for a moment before all of the girls started giving ideas on how to continue the game, while not running it up on an inferior opponent, nor embarrassing them by totally quitting anything that we had learned to do. It was a first-class move and all of the girls participated. I never smiled wider and could not have been prouder of Sarah and our team for their reaction. We backed off on defense, played screens straight up, worked the ball around on offense and worked with our substitute players on getting better. All the while, our starters cheered the others from the bench and encouraged them by showing them where to go on the floor when they forgot. We won the game but the scoreboard told very little of the story. This is especially true when juxtaposed against a game some of us were involved in a few years ago on the other end of a 74-4 loss, against a full-court pressing and double-teaming defense that lasted for 30 of the 32 minutes of action.
Sportsmanship is a vital part of any game and it's an element we need to teach our kids. I didn't have to teach much on this particular day, thanks to Sarah's leadership and our girls' buy-in. However, that experience reminded me of how impressionable our young people are and how what we show them, in our words and in our actions, really does make a difference. Clearly, Sarah "picked it up" somewhere along the way and I'd like to thank that coach and her parents for instilling those values. As a society, we need more Sarahs, don't you think?
This is the first entry written by Athletic Director Mike Lynch for "Open Mike," a new GoTerriers.com blog. Lynch will be providing an inside look into Terrier Athletics from his perspective as head of the department.
The scene is a familiar one to Boston sports fans: February 2006, night one of the Beanpot at the TD Garden (that's what it's called now, anyway)... BU vs. Harvard in the late game. It was the first time I really "got it" - the excitement, the rivalries, the BU of it all. And since then it's been played over and over again as one of the most spectacular plays in the long history of this four-game set.
I'm sitting in section 2, about 16 rows from the ice directly behind our bench. I had dinner with a few of our contributors and fans, and been downstairs in the tunnel wishing Coach Parker and our guys well and now it was time to take the game in. The BU contingent - unlike our foes' across the river - is buzzing, the band roaring, the sea of Scarlet active in the upper deck. It's a BU Beanpot scene. I recall us scoring the first goal which always puts those that I'm sitting with a bit more at ease... there is a lot of chit-chat among the crowd near me about the freshman class... "it's a special group, these guys are talented"... at this point it could be any BU game. Well, it's the Beanpot, which means it's not just any game to BU, but in many ways it wouldn't have registered anything more than that in my memory.
It all changes for me in an instant, as the puck moves across center ice and then across the blue line into our offensive zone, right there in front of where I'm sitting, and onto the stick of freshman Chris Higgins. Number 10 - all 165 pounds of him - takes the puck at the top of the circle, slips a defender as he's heading to the net, dekes the goalie as he's falling, sprawling first into the left post and then onto the ice and finally into the back wall as the puck slides into the goal. It now plays out in slow motion in my mind's eye... it's so slick (and thanks to YouTube, I can still take it in). It still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up, still gives me an adrenaline rush - not just the goal, but the scene - and it seemed that everyone in the house that night rose out of their seats to catch a glimpse of what was quickly transpiring. And the response was deafening. All Scarlet and all BU in a way that no other college hockey fans react and it was at that moment that I experienced my first true taste of the BU Beanpot magic and its importance to the faithful.
We went on to win the game and the tournament that year, and Number 10 played a starring role for four years, ending his career playing a pivotal role in our 2009 National Championship run, which had some hair raising moments of its own! But it's the Beanpot goal that lives for me as my personal watershed moment when the lights went bright and the unique midseason tournament rocketed to stardom on my "importance meter" in my role as overseer of the Terrier brand. Next to the FIVE national titles, nothing is more BU than hoisting the trophy on the second Monday in February.
Welcome to my blog. My thoughts will be represented here, tinged with Scarlet and White, and my hope is to bring some "behind the scenes" moments to life for you, the BU fan. I hope you like it... and if you don't, let me know that, too. I would enjoy hearing from you.
By the way... what's your "magic" moment? Send your responses to firstname.lastname@example.org