TODAY FOR TOMORROW
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The Game of the Year: Lessons We Can All Learn From It By Matt Wright
What a night! If you missed the semifinals of the state tournament, you missed a good performance by our young men. They represented their team, families, school, and community well. When I go to games, I don’t usually sit around others or even talk to people I know. Last night, my mother went with me and I bet I didn’t say 15 words to her during the game. There is a competitor that still resides in me and that competitor isn’t made to be visiting during games. I love athletics, competition, and I miss coaching. If you have sit by me at a game, our conversation has probably been interrupted by me jumping into what a good shot or pass a kid made, complaining about a bad call, or other things that just aren’t suitable for regular conversation. I love to socialize as much as the next person, but I don’t want people to think I am a raging lunatic….so I try to stay to myself during sporting events.Having said that, last night I was standing by a man at the end of the game who didn’t know who I was, but probably knew where I was from. He told me something that I heard many times before this season.Boy, these kids from Marked Tree are athletic.These kids from Marked Tree have God-given talent.Look at how fast these kids are!On the surface, these sound like great compliments. Our kids are athletic, fast, and they certainly have a talent that is God given. But attributing our success in basketball to only our kids being athletic and having a God given talent doesn’t even begin to tell the story…and that is what I want to try to do because I think it is a valuable lesson for all kids.If you want to see where last night’s double overtime victory started, you had to be in the gym shortly after the state championship loss last year. The game last night started way back in March of 2017. It started in the shadows of disappointment that came from the loss in last year’s game. It started in the shadows of a gym down an old, dusty gravel road. It started in the shadows of the banners hanging on the wall from previous championship teams. The key is that it started right after the loss. This year’s team started getting themselves ready as soon as last season was over.These kids get it. It is what we try to teach kids every single day at school. It is what you try to teach your kids. It is something that I heard my father say over and over growing up. No deposit, no return…If you aren’t willing to make a sacrifice and put in a lot of time, you aren’t going to be good. This applies to any of our kids’ academic pursuits, their musical careers, or even our professional work careers. This is one of the takeaways we hope your kids get from school or from their extracurricular pursuits. Regardless of where they get it, this is THE TAKEAWAY our kids have to learn during their youth. It is where we must teach them that your late teen years and early 20’s aren’t about figuring life out, it is about grinding it out, working hard, and always setting yourself up for the next phase of life. This isn’t just about playing for a second state championship (which is awesome), it is also about learning a key component for the blueprint of life.Show up. Day after day, you must show up. They showed up during April and May, they showed up during the summer (A LOT), and they showed up when school started. They play basketball when they are around their coach and they play basketball when they aren’t around their coach. Now, they aren’t perfect. However, they have been taught the 2nd part of this valuable lesson (and probably the most important part) by their coach. It isn’t just about putting in more time, it is about putting in more effort during those times. They are pushed and have learned to push their skillset to the brink of their ability. That is how you get better. The reason why they look so athletic and make winning look so easy is because of how hard their practices are each day. It isn’t just about spending more time at work, it is about putting in more effort when you spend more time at work. All of this extra time and hard work will never make them 7’2, but it will make them a better shooter, passer, or defender. It helps them hone their skills so they can contribute. Therefore, it makes them a better teammate. This, being a good teammate and doing your part, is ultimately what makes us employable or not.This reminds me of something that Nick Saban said last year about the illusion of choice. It went something like this…“Most people think that they have all of these choices. People think they can do whatever they want to do, whenever they want to do it, and still be good. Most kids…they don’t always get told no or they don’t always get told this is exactly how you need do this. So kids tend to have this illusion that they have all of these choices.The truth, the fact of the matter….if you want to be good, you have very few choices because, in the end, it takes what it takes. You are going to have to do what you have to do to be good. You have to make choices and decisions that require discipline and doing what is right. If you are going to be good, you have to do what is right…there are no choices. It requires discipline and focus to the process of being good…whatever good is or your goals are.”As a school leader and community member, I appreciate all of the comments that we heard about our kids. Just like all of you, I am appreciative of people noticing them. I just want our kids at school and other people to understand something. Our basketball teams success, and success in life, is so much more than just having talent.I believe it was Thomas Jefferson who said it best when he said, “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” The biggest compliment I can give our kids is this….They are doing it the right way.As for the next step, Coach Wilburn and Ms. Smith have to be in Little Rock at 2:00 for a meeting where they will announce the time we play. I believe the Arkansas Activities Association will broadcast this on Facebook Live under their page. You can also follow the press conference by following their Twitter account, @ArkActAssn. Come help us make Hot Springs #indiancountry!
Superintendent: (870) 358-2913 High School: (870) 358-2891
Fax: (870) 358-3953
406 St. Francis St.
Marked Tree, Arkansas 72365
Elementary: (870) 358-2214
703 Normandy St.Marked Tree, Arkansas 72365