Monday, April 20, 2009

Jake's Thought for the Week

This is coming out a little late today...

Each Monday I will be posting Jake's Thought for the Week which he sends out to the parents of the players in his All-Iowa Attack program.



My Dad often added the following statement to this prayer – The ability to recognize what you need to change and how to change it. As we coach the boys and girls in the Attack program each week we push them to their limits. We challenge them to do more and to give more. However, no matter how hard we push them or how much we challenge them, the ultimate improvement comes from within. It comes from a recognition of what needs to be changed and then a plan on how to change it.

Often times the greatest challenge in athletics is the ability to handle the highs and lows that come with competition and expectations. Growing up I continually struggled with how to handle these moments as I still do today. It seems like there is never a middle ground in competing. You are either extremely high believing you could defeat the world or extremely low wondering if you will ever be successful again.

So, when I was in the 5th grade my Dad gave me a little card that I still have to this day that had the Serenity Prayer on it. Below is an excerpt of some of the struggles I had as a basketball player and the mistakes I made. Please share this thought of the week with your son or daughter because as much as I challenge the athletes in our organization I want them to know that I often struggled with the same things. In order that I improved each year I needed to recognize where I fell short and how I was going to get better the next time.

5thGrade: (My First ever AAU Basketball Tournament):
Our first game that year was against Maple Grove at the Concordia College Pre-Thanksgiving Tournament. During my 3rd and 4th grade basketball playing days I played in a league that did not allow pressing or zone defense. So, to my shock the Maple Grove team pressed us everywhere and would trap once we crossed half court. Every time I crossed half court I would pick my dribble up get trapped and turn over the ball. Also, at this point in my life I had some serious self-control issues (and still do from time to time) and proceeded to yell at my Dad who was coaching me and my teammates. My Dad proceeded to bench me the whole fourth quarter and let me tell you that was a long ride home. That was the same weekend my Dad gave me the Serenity Prayer.

7th Grade: (Apple Valley AAU Basketball Tournament):
At this point in my career I was beginning to figure out the game of basketball, but had some self control issues when the ball would not go in the hoop!!!! In the 7th grade I would either have 40 points or my Dad would end up benching me and there was never really an in between with me. Usually the outcome was decided within the first three shots I took. If I made them I was probably going to have 40 or more points as my 7th grade AAU season. I had 5 games where I scored over 60 and one in which I had 72. But if those shots failed to go in there was a good chance I would end up on the bench for my attitude.

Well, back to the Apple Valley Tournament. We were playing Eagan at 8am in the first round of the tournament. I was not the greatest 8am basketball player and even had greater self control issues that early in the morning. Well, in the first quarter of the game I had missed all my shots but one and as the quarter came to an end I got called for an offensive foul and decided to spike the ball into the ground which also got me a “T”. This was not a good idea with my Dad as coach and he made me sit at the end of the bench for the remainder of the game with my Mom who was keeping the score book.

Again, this was not another fun morning as we discussed my self control issues over some pancakes at Perkins. But, that morning I still remember my Dad asking me what could I control each day? I did like so many teenagers and did not answer, so he provided me the answer. He told me I could control how hard I worked, how much I was willing to practice, and how badly I was willing to pay attention to details and that everything else was out of my control. He said that if I did the above things then most days the ball would bounce my way. On the days it did not I could look myself in the mirror and know I did everything in my power to be successful.

11th Grade (Following High School Basketball Season):
While I was in 8th grade the University of Minnesota began to recruit me and I was regularly in attendance at their games during my 8th,9th, 10th and 11th grade year. Prior to the start of my 11th grade year they had given me and my high school coach the impression that they were going to offer me at the end of the high school basketball season. I was very excited as I had dreamed of being a Gopher and of playing for Coach Haskins at the University of Minnesota. To this day I can still recite the entire fight song which my wife enjoys hearing each time the Gophers are on TV.

Following my 11th grade year they informed me they were no longer going to recruit me and that I was not big enough or athletic enough to play at that level. I was devastated as I felt like all my hard work over the years was completely worthless. That evening as I was as low as I had ever been and my Dad said the following, “There is no reason to be upset. You cannot control what other people think and you can’t control how big you are or how athletic you are and if you need someone to blame you should blame your mother for that.” (My mom is 5’1 and the only time she ever played basketball was after a few margaritas).

Sophomore Year in College: We had just graduated six seniors and the team was now mine. I was named Captain as a Sophomore, and was ready to lead Iowa State back to the NCAA Tournament or so I thought. Jamal Tinsley had just graduated and Coach Eustachy had told me he was going to make me the starting Point Guard and I was so excited because I knew if I wanted to play in the NBA I was going to have to be a point guard.

That year our recruiting class included three post players and a point guard from Michigan named Ricky Morgan. As soon as Ricky got on campus I was prepared to kick his butt everyday to make sure he in no way would ever take my point guard spot. As with any new freshman coming to college this is not overly hard to do as the freshman already feel uncomfortable as the level of play is at such a drastically different level.

As the year went on Ricky never received any extended minutes except for a few games here or there and we managed to finish the year 12-19 and lost 11 of the 19 games by five points or less. For any of you who may wonder why a team usually loses a close game; it is often because of the point guard play in the final 5 minutes of the game.

Following the season, Ricky transferred to UNLV and went on to have a great career. After the season I thought back on the mistakes I made that season and I could hear my Dad saying the following, "The most important thing is to recognize what you need to change and how to change it." So, I moved back to the two position and realized a true leader leads a team so each player can maximize their potential in order for the team to maximize its potential.

In order to be successful it is important that we understand what we can change, what we can’t change, and most importantly to understand the difference between the two.

Go Attack!

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