Sunday, March 30, 2014

Let's Get Physical: Another Reason I Love Bookstore Basketball

This is going to sound weird; please don't take it the wrong way. I like interacting with others physically.

One reason I loved coaching cross country is because I interacted with my student-athletes in a physical way. I say that because it stands as in contrast to what I do as a teacher. In the classroom, my work is formal and regulated by a bell, desks, a podium and a blackboard. While I am standing and instructing my students are sitting (NOT sleeping); they are passive. 

As an assistant coach however, I ran with the girls everyday. I sweat when they sweat. I would stretch while they stretched. One of my favorite memories is leading them in push-ups. I would urge them not to be afraid to overachieve. Don't hold back ladies! If you want to complete the set with one arm, go for it. If I say 10, please say 15 coach! Those were good times.
SJP Mike finally got a championship title!
As the commissioner of the Bookstore Basketball tourney for the Notre Dame alumni club of the San Francisco Bay Area, I finally figured out why so many friendships have formed from an event that takes place but once a year: 55 men and women are interacting physically with one another for a half day. They are banging down low and jumping up high in the quest to be the first team to 15 points.

When you interact with someone physically the conversation is never limited to "wow, he's got great hands" or "she has amazing court vision." No, eventually with a contact sport like basketball, it reveals character, personality, maturity and even one's spirituality. 
Sweet Memories...2010

Bookstore basketball is a case study for this truth. We play a round robin and the top four teams advance. Because Notre Dame alums often run slightly/naturally competitive, once the warm-ups conclude, a "game-time" athlete takes the court. In those game that run close, one or two players always emerge as "chippy" or "lacking integrity" (other people's words...not mine). Because you call your own fouls, there is definitely a fair amount of give and take. How people call them and how people respond to them is interesting (one of the most loaded words in the English language). On the other end of the spectrum, I love to see how captains support their players and how athletes form friendships across enemy lines. It's incredible how many players I have run into a week or month later are still talking about one of their games.

It's also just fun for me to see my friends compete. I enjoy seeing people I work with, friends from church and others take it to the hoop. Personality never fails to enter into this dynamic. For example, last year, my friend's teammate asked the player he was guarding how he should guard him. The opponent didn't understand what he was saying. He replied "I honestly do not know." The opposing player said "let me tell you after the game." I had to laugh when my friend's teammate returned this year with a surge in confidence and new-found ability to size up players. Reminded me of the sophomores I will teach! 
Justin is upset that his guys/one of my favorite teams did not defend their title.
Furthermore, every year, there is at least two women I envy for their smooth dribble and efficiency with the triple threat. We started calling one woman "Rebecca Lobo" today. Enough said.

Interacting physically with family, friends, one's spouse or children can build and strengthen relationships. It can teach everyone about each other and one's self. Good for the heart, good for the soul. No wonder "work hard, play hard" is a beloved motto.

I would be remiss if I did not thank Betsy Cannon for starting Bookstore Basketball for SFND 13 years ago. It certainly laid part of the foundation for the gift of our friendship and those of many others all these years. Betsy, you're a great player, organizer and can't wait to get you out there again!! If your local alumni chapter is interested in starting your own tourney, please contact me for information. Betsy was the lawyer-genius behind that too!

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