Friday, January 9, 2009

The Basketball Diaries: Chapter One.

For those of you uninitiated, this site does indeed have an ulterior motive behind all the politricks and Negro Nonsense. That motive is The AverageBro Challenge™ and you're gonna see me walk the talk firsthand as I coach a team of 6th graders this Winter in our newest series, The Basketball Diaries. The season begins this weekend, and I'll provide results and storylines shortly after each game here at My hope is that this will de-mystify the whole process of "giving back" and encourage some of you to do the same with your spare time, despite how limited (and believe me, mine is very limited) it might be.

It is, and has long been, my sincere opinion that the best way to reverse the negative course that Black America's been on for decades is one child at a time. Adults are pretty much who they're gonna be by age 21. So, if you're 21 and effed' the eff' up, why bother? I prefer to spend the limited time I've got to help out the chill'rens. Cause we all know the chill'rens are our future.

I advocate working with kids, especially middle schoolers, because they're at an age where they're still somewhat pliable and might even listen. Over the years I have mentored and tutored middle schoolers, but nothing is more rewarding and fun than coaching basketball. I started this in college at the YMCA across the street from my Negro College HBCU as a wager against some buddies (yes, we were betting on the games we were coaching. I was young. Shoot me.), and a few years ago began coaching 4th-6th grade teams each winter in my county's youth league. This season is my 5th overall, and my second with this particular set of kids, who are all in the 6th grade.

The county assigns you players if you're starting a new team, so unless you personally know some kids who can ball (which I didn't when I started), your talent level is really the luck of the draw. The first set of kids I had 5 years ago (The Blazers) happened to have an abundance of talent. We had kids who could already play (including one who will most certainly get a D-1 scholarship in a few years) and just needed some guidance. Over the 3 years that I coached them, The Blazers went 22-2, losing the only two games (badly might I add) to an AAU squad that was the 12-and-Under national champions. I foolishly thought this meant I could actually coach.

Boy was I wrong.

Last year, me and my buddy/assistant coach ANewP (who comments here every now and then) got a new batch of kids (The Panthers), and well, let's just say the talent level isn't what it was with the Blazers. Not even close. We finished the season 2-6, with one of our wins coming at the expense of a team that really should have chosen to play lacrosse instead. We beat those kids like a pack of rented mules (30 point win), but our other losses (all by 20+ points) were humbling to say the least. My confidence as a ooach, as well as my dedication to volunteering waned, but when we won our final game (versus a team that murdered us the first time), I felt like we were turning the corner.

Uhhh, not so much.

[Editor's Note: The names of the kids and parents have been changed for very obvious reasons.]

This year, the Panthers are back, and the same lazy practice habits that haunted us last year have returned. They arrive late to practice, are always distracted during drills, and just don't seem to take the whole concept of "focus" very seriously. In the back of my mind, I'm thinking we're prolly gonna go 0-8 this season unless something gets into these kids pronto. The first game is this Sunday afternoon. Wish us luck. We'll need it, and then some.

Will the Panthers improve upon last year's 2-6 record or regress? Will the parents stage a mutiny? Will ANewP and Coach AB get Sprewelled before all is said and done? Stay tuned to The Basketball Diaries this season and watch the drama unfold.

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