During the most recent Christmas holiday season, I had several experiences that restored my faith in humanity, if even for a short time. These experiences were the simple "pay it forward" things that people tend to do from time to time.
The first encounter was at a Subway. A young lady I had in my PE class when she was elementary school was in line ahead of me. She and her mom had ordered their subs, paid and were heading out the door. We briefly exchanged glances and smiles and that was it. No more, no less. As I approached the cashier, I pulled out my wallet and the cashier simply said, "You're good." I was stunned. I didn't even know what to do. The cashier told me that my former student and her mom had paid for my sandwich. So, doing what I felt was the right thing to do, I paid it forward. I too, strolled out of the store, gave a simple wave to the gentleman behind me in line and left with a feeling of joy.
This happened once again at a local Chick-Fil-A. I was out with my two sons on an excursion to buy Christmas/anniversary gifts for my wife. As per our custom, we had to stop and get lunch at the nearest Chick-Fil-A. We pulled through the drive through and ordered our food. Much to my surprise (again), the folks in front of us in line had paid for our food. I paid it forward once again and used the time as a teaching moment to my sons to explain that it's always good to do something good for people just because. There doesn't need to be a rhyme or reason to do it...just do it. The joy and completeness you feel when doing something good for people is consuming. You don't do it for the fame or for show. You just do it because you love people. I'm quite sure there hasn't been a better lesson that I have enjoyed teaching my children than that one.
With those things being said, I always think back to the game of basketball. I love the game. I appreciate the history of the game and those that paved the way for me and for today's generation of hoopers. I have always felt the need to pay the love of the game forward.
As a kid going through middle and high school, I think I broke into my high school gym so many times that I should probably still be doing time for it! However, one of my first basketball mentors and my assistant principal at the time, did something unbelievable. He saw me in the gym one day when school was out (I used to shoot with the lights off and doors closes thinking no one would know I was there) and he pulled me aside and asked how I got into the gym. I didn't lie, I just told him the truth. I had jimmied one of the doors so I could get in the gym any time I wanted, day or night.
He gave me a look that I just knew meant I was in trouble. Then, all of sudden, he cracked a huge smile. He gave me a key to the gym and said, "Turn the lights off and lock up when you're done." I was floored! I couldn't believe that this man had given me a key to the gym. It was the best gift anyone could have given me at the time. I had that key from probably my 8th grade year of middle school until I was a sophomore in college. I would likely still have it but they changed the locks on me and I couldn't secure another one after that.
Our girls' basketball coach when I was in high school was another basketball mentor for me. At the time, girls' basketball was played in the fall so I had to compete with them for gym space. I wasn't too happy about that and I was always in the gym until they kicked me out so they could have practice. One day, the coach came over and put his arm around me and asked me to stay and help them practice since I was there every day anyway. I got to run scout team and participate in all the drills with the girls. I also had a front row seat to witness coaching techniques and strategies from a man who had a very successful run as a high school coach in West Virginia.
These are just two of many examples of people in my life that paid it forward in regards to basketball. I've had many more and they have shaped and defined my love of the game more than they'll ever know. It is those people that I have always kept in my heart when it comes to giving back to the game.
I try to help as many players and coaches I can with my limited knowledge. I don't know everything about the game but what I do know, I don't mind sharing. I think we have a responsibility as caretakers of this great game to pay it forward. Share what you know and help as many as you can so this game continues to grow and advance.
Unfortunately, too many people don't want to do that anymore. Too many people are scared to help someone out of a fear that the person will rise up and take their job or their clients. Is it really that serious? Is it about you or is it about the game? I can tell you, for me, it's all about the game. If you need help, shoot me an email or call me. I'll try to help you as much as I can or at least get you connected with someone that can.
You see, I love this game too much and have had too many people help me along the way that I can't help but pay it forward. It is my duty and responsibility to foster the growth of this game. It was done for me and it's how I plan to give back to the game that has given me so much joy.
Put ego and pride aside and do something positive for someone even if they can't repay the favor. Do it for the game. Give back to the game that has given so much to you. Help those out that need it because you never know when they will be in a position to help you. It will bring a joy to your heart that is worth much more than money, jobs or clients. Simply put, pay it forward.