Brittany Graham

There's Nothing Wrong With Caring

basketball, faith, motivation, brittanyBrittany GrahamComment

I'm trying to figure out how I became such a positive person. It's a typical Tuesday night for me (out of season Tuesday night that is, hints no late night film and scouting reports), lying down, watching Netflix, and counting down the last 22 days of pre-season, carrying on multiple conversations with my girls. Just because messages, and three other uplifting encouragements that were much needed after workouts today.

So then it hits me, how I transformed into the coach, person, and friend, I am today.

I'm just going to be bluntly honest when I say that as a player I didn't always feel a burst of positive energy and encouragement from most of my coaches. I felt like a lot of times when I needed guidance, help, someone to reach out to me, push me, and someone to believe in me, more than not my cry for help was never heard.

Now granted, I completely understand that part of growing up and being a division I athlete is toughing it out and finding away to make it, which it did, but on my own.

I never, ever, ever, want the girls I coach to experience the misery I felt as player. If faced with adversity, which at some point in their careers they will experience just that, but they will never endure it alone. I promised myself a long time ago that I will,  always be there with them every step of the way through every failure, and each success.

I was praised and put on a pedestal when everything was going my way and I was making shots. But, as soon as I hit any kind of slump, I was tossed to side and forgotten about. My confidence was gone and if I could "no longer help the team win," it was back to the white team as a defense dummy that didn’t matter or have a purpose. Then the following week the cycle repeats itself slowly working my way back in after someone else had fallen off from the good side.

However, I guess in a way that’s kind of what college athletics as turned into the past few years due to coaches feeling the pressure to win more and more. Which in turn, has trickled-down to player-coach relationships, resulting in the harsh reality of feelings do not matter. Just do your job, make shots. Rarely did anyone ever just simply ask if I was okay, stressed out, or how my life was going.

And there you have it people, how and why I've become such a positive person over the past few years. I just want to help people. Encourage people. Make them believe, and be a reason they never quit. I remember how I felt, I remember how nobody cared, and I badly remember how nobody was there to lift me up. I know part of being a coach is making the best decision to give your chance to win. But, people also have feelings, and people and those feelings in my mind should never been over looked. Even when times get bad, there's no reason to just completely forget about someone, leaving them behind to fail. Because to me, that's when people need your help, and coaching the most, during their struggles. That's when people need that extra bit of attention and encouragement to get through that slump and know that even when they are playing at their worst, someone is still by their side helping them get back up.

I guess I just have a different way of thinking, and trust me I'm not that soft (haha ask EP). I demand a lot when it comes to basketball, I'm very critical, hard to please, and as any coach like things done a certain way (:

I don't have close to perfect relationships with the girls I coach, lol not even. I get on their nerves as much as they badly get on mine. No you can't substitute pick-up for conditioning, no you can't run 2 miles instead of 3, no it's not perfect do it again, your lockers better be clean with nothing showing, so on, and so on. I get the look, yes the look, you know THE look, the eye roll, the BUT Britt's, the talking behind my back, the talking under your breaths, what coach doesn't?

But through all of this, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I care. 1 through 18, I care. Today, tomorrow, in season, out of season, next year, 10 years from now, I will always care. On career highs, and career lows. I care. I'm bothered when I notice one of them having a bad day, stressed out from school, or broke up with a boyfriend.

Honestly, I feel I would've been a much better player had someone consistently cared about my jump shot as much as my overall state of mind and well being a person. And it's not to say I never had any, because I had some great coaches here and there that I know I wouldn't have been able to survive without, especially my lone year in Kansas (and to this day the only coach I talk to on a regular basis in all my years of playing). Because I went to three schools in 5 years (ugh), having that close knit...I can count on, go to for what ever, whenever relationship with a coach...I never had and it sucks.

So for me, giving not one, not a select few, but building that type of relationship with each of the girls I coach, giving them something I never had is something I truly value. Obviously, I've figured out that big time D1 ball is probably not suited for me to coach at because of the fact that I'm very relationship-orientated and conscious of the feelings of those around me. But, Like I said in this post "Why, Not Where," I'm here for a reason.

There's no right way to be a successful coach and get the most out of your players. But for me, positive energy, a lot of sarcasm LOL and making 1 through 18 feel special, wanted, and important just so happens to be what works for me. Being uplifting, sparking encouragement, and placing that little bit of hope in their hearts to try a little harder. Not everyone will reach their full potential when it comes to basketball, in fact most won't, and I honestly don't believe I ever reached mine. But as long as I do my part to teach,  grow, mentor, and discipline the next, the rest is left up to each of them.

I've grown closer to God this past year, and I've learned that my good fortune will come in serving others (the right way) for him through what he has placed in my heart, basketball. I know that if I become such a self-less individual and focus on 1 through 18 instead of myself that eventually my hard work will begin to surface in other aspects of my life. Because at the end of the day, it’s not about me. It’s about giving these girls the best possible experience, four amazing years as a college athlete, and serving God for a greater purpose than myself.

Focus on the people around you, pleasing God, serving others, and in turn, he will supply your needs.

Be positive, enjoy life, and most of all…be fun to be around.