Basketball has always been my greatest sports passion. It is what I turn to in stressful times to alleviate negative feelings and get back on track in life. In high school I battled a lot of depression and anxiety brought about by an unstable family situation. What I found to help me was the greatest sport on the planet and a coach driven to see me succeed. His name was Don Maynard.
I have the ability to stroke it from deep and penetrate on the drive and coach Maynard happened to catch me practicing one day in my sophomore year. He entered the gym and watched me for about 3 minutes before sneaking up from behind and blocking one of my shot attempts. “You can make a shot by yourself but can you do the same with pressure?” I told him I could and he responded by saying he would like to see that. I jabbed right on him, ripped the ball back into my right pocket and triggered a shot over his outstretched hands. Swish!
Coach Maynard gave a wry smile and told me he knew a little bit about my recent family troubles through some other teachers. He recommended I occupy myself with the greatest sport on the planet and return to the gym every morning to hone my craft and try out for the varsity squad that fall. For the next month and a half I dedicated two hours every school day morning in the gym. Coach Maynard would come out from his office to test me at least once a week and give supportive feedback so that when the time for tryouts came I would be ready.
Tryouts came and went and I made the team in large part because of the encouragement and belief that coach Maynard showed me. It is at this time every year that I include my old coach Maynard in my prayers and I remember what he said to me before my first game a week before Thanksgiving: “Greatness is a choice. Choose wisely and we will win tonight’s game.”