Thursday, May 21, 2009

New And Big And Different

Through the focused leadership, hard work and passion of our guy's from The Helping Up Mission, The Basketball League is changing. And by changing, we mean growing. And by growing, we mean evolving.

At the end of last week's session, three of our guy's -- Johnny, Mike and Greg -- each expressed that we needed to do more with our ninety minutes together. They were completely right. There is a noticeable skill divide between our players, and it had finally caught up with us.

While these men had become frustrated with the overall level of basketball being played by the group, we knew that they could design a program that would teach the fundamentals that everyone needed to succeed. They weren’t confident about implementing the changes, but they knew that it could be done. That it had to be done. It's just as Mike said as we stood in front of The Melo Center two weeks ago: "We need to teach everyone how to play."

Our pilot program was designed to give our guy's from The Basketball League the opportunity to take total and complete ownership of every aspect of the process. If something needs changing, they can change it. If something needs fixing, they can fix it.

We met with Johnny and Mike on Monday afternoon and they carefully mapped out a curriculum for what would be our first practice. Their schedule allotted specific amounts of time for stretching, lay-up lines, shooting lines, free throws, and passing and dribbling drills. They estimated that these skill-building drills would take us from 735p to 810p, after which we would divide the group into two teams and play straight through The Melo Center's 900p curfew.

In Wednesday's reality, Monday's designed practice was nothing short of inspiring. As the stretching came to a close at 740p, Johnny effortlessly hopped off the bleachers and took firm charge. For the next eighty-minutes, he surprised everyone -- most of all, himself -- by energetically taking our crew through his well-planned drills and exercises, carefully explaining every important detail and expectation along the way.

Johnny used the rolling scrimmage as but another opportunity to teach, frequently arresting play to further drive home key group and individual concepts. With everything now moving at game speed, the crew’s collective learning curve accelerated accordingly.

At 855p, Johnny halted the animated full-court play and asked the group to line up on the back wall for sprints. Suicides, to be exact. Words were said, faces were made, eyes were rolled. But twenty seconds later, the entire group of sixteen men were off on their first suicide. Foul line and back. Mid-line and back. Far foul line and back. End line and back. Done. They took a brief thirty second break, then repeated the entire progression.

It was a long, hard practice and it took some of our guy’s a good while to finish that second suicide. But finish that suicide they did.

Wednesday night was the start of something new and big and different for The Basketball League. Not only was this amazing, courageous group of men ably lead by one of their peers, but they responded positively to his leadership and instruction.

After just ninety minutes, our guy's had not only become better individual and team basketball players, but they were noticeably closer and more comfortable with each other than they had been the previous four weeks.

Through our main man Tom at The Helping Up Mission, we heard that a many of our guy's were pumped about Wednesday night, going well out of their way to tell staff at the house that this had been by far the best week yet.

This is new and big and different, for sure. We can't wait to see where it leads us.

We are something worth believing in.

Power Forward Baltimore


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