Yesterday was one of the rare days where I actually liked being on social media.
For a day, most of the political mumbo jumbo was silenced, and my timeline was filled with joy, happiness and a reminder of just how good it feels to work hard for something and to make it happen.
Yesterday, the Larose-Cut Off Middle School basketball teams were announced, and lining my feed were pictures of happy young men and women smiling with pride at their accomplishment.
“Tryout day” is always one of my favorites, but this year, it’s even more exciting for me because I coached a lot of the kids who are now going to be showcasing their talents and representing their schools.
To those who have made the teams, I am truly so proud of you, and it is my truest wish that you will all have absolutely amazing seasons.
Your hard work and dedication to get to this point is admirable, but I urge you to keep the celebrations mostly short-lived. What happens next is just as important as what happened yesterday. As a member of a school basketball team, it’s your job and duty to work hard every, single day at practice and in competition to put your best foot forward and to continue to get better.
Your coaches are choosing to invest in you — countless hours of time — to make you better. Reward that investment with your absolute best effort.
Because there are others around the school who would do almost anything to trade places with you.
I’m writing this column today to speak not to those who made the basketball teams, but to those who didn’t.
In scrolling my Facebook feed during this time each year, I’m always overwhelmed with joy seeing the faces of those who achieved their goal. But after a few minutes, I’m always reminded that this day is a two-sided coin, because there are an equal amount of young men and women who go home from try-outs unhappy.
To those kids, please know that there is no shame in missing the cut.
I know, because I was one of you.
For as much as I may be blessed to know about local sports, I never was much of an athlete, myself.
I never made Biddy All-Star Teams. I never made junior high or high school basketball teams.
I loved the game, but my body just never would do what my mind told it to do.
But I was also lazy, scared to work hard and both of those things gave me no shot to ever reverse the trend and get better.
Don't be like me.
If you want to be a member of the school basketball teams, keep working, get better and try again next year.
If you’re a sixth or seventh grader at the middle school, practice without relent until next winter. Shoot as much as you can, practice dribbling, work to get stronger, quicker and everything else needed to be a better player.
If unsure of direction, ask the coaches at your school. They are all good people and they will all happily give you drills or different pointers for how to get better.
Study your classmates. Play pickup against them when time allows. Iron sharpens iron. The best way to get better is to play against people who are currently more advanced than you are.
If an 8th grader, go out for the team at high school. Don’t assume that if you’re “not good enough” to make a middle school team, then high school ball is hopeless. There have been so many late bloomers. It’s a fresh start. Take advantage of it.
But whatever you do — don’t give up.
If you want this, chase it.
If you try out again next year and don’t make it, then hey, it is what it is. But at that point, you gave it your absolute best shot and will have no regrets.
And all the while, you’ll be getting better and learning life lessons that will make you better equipped to be a prosperous adult.
Keep fighting for what you love. That’s what life is all about.