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A letter to my coach

By July 8, 2018 12 Comments


Coach Friest,

I wanted to share this story with you. It’s about things you taught me 42 years ago that I heard but didn’t take to heart until I became the coach, and repeated most of it to my players.

You may not remember this, but it has to do with my jump shot. I always wanted to be able to shoot a normal jump shot like most of the guys on my team. My strength kept me from being able  to accomplish this. You saw me struggle with it and pulled me aside after practice—you told me not to worry about it; a shot is a shot. Of  course I wanted to shoot a jumper like Pistol Pete.

You told me that I could change my shot to more of a push shot from the top of the key. I resisted at first, but begin to work on it—then I  remembered I saw Denny Schaffer of NIACC score 56 vs Iowa Central at St. Edmonds gym and he had a bit of a push shot, so that was good enough for me.

The next game we faced a zone and I had a few opportunities to shoot the top of the key jumper. I made the first one I shot and looked over at you and you gave me that “atta boy” fist pump. Obviously, it is a favorite memory, one I won’t ever forget……..

Fast forward………to 2018.

I’m in the gym last Saturday in Fort Dodge. The former Hillcrest Elementary school is the home of AFES, an academic and sports program run by Charles Clayton. He has me come up a lot and work with the high school kids and teams.

There was a kid from St. Ed’s there, a freshman, and he was working on his shot after the workout. I watched his shot for a few minutes and asked him some questions….the topic of jump shot came up….the more I talked to the kid the more he reminded me of me as a freshman; same body type, blonde hair, loved the game. (but he didn’t have gray floppy socks).

I told him the story about you helping me alter my shot from distance to help my accuracy…….he had a moment; he looked at me and we began to work on his shot. When I moved him out to the three-pointer at the top of the key he didn’t miss. You should have seen the look on his face! It came full circle and you were at the center of it.

The lesson is a good one; whether we are a coach or not; things we say may not make sense in the moment, but many of them are just seeds that lay dormant until an unexplained moment when the light goes on.

“Learning starts when the student arrives,” is a favorite quote. No matter how hard we try, the message isn’t accepted by the student. When they are ready, it hits home with the power of an atom bomb.

Fortunately for me, I was open and ready that day after practice, and your advice and support was immediately put into practice. Thank you.

I thought you’d like to hear the story!



Randy Brown

About Randy Brown