I read an article today about a coach getting fired for winning 100-0 in a girls varsity basketball game. I have to say that, after reading the article, I agree with the decision. At first, I didn't know what I thought, but the coach's response is what turned me against him. He was completely unapologetic and didn't see anything wrong with running the score up so high.

This story is a little personal to me. I coached basketball. I even coached girl's basketball. One year, I was the coach of a 7th & 8th grade girls team. The year before we had all 8th graders who were all fairly experienced, so we did pretty well. The following year, those girls all moved up to the freshman team, and my team consisted of all 7th graders, most of whom had never really picked up a basketball. We had three weeks (twice a week) of practice before our first game, and I was teach them how to dribble the ball and shoot. The team we were to play first was one of the better teams in the league, made up of mostly 8th graders, their practices were consisting of strategy, defense, different offensive sets, and the like.

The day of the game was rough. By halftime, their coach realized that we were severely outmatched. The score was 53-0. He had already, by the middle of the second quarter, shifted his team into a 2-3 zone so that there wouldn't be as many steals, but my girls didn't know yet how to change directions while dribbling and they basically dribbled the ball right into the opposing team's hands. In the third quarter, the other coach told his girls to just stand there with their hands up. Still, we would lose the ball and they would take it down for a lay up. The final score was 86-1. Our one point came from a free throw that banked in so hard I thought the girl had thrown the ball baseball style at the backboard.

I did not (and do not) fault the other coach. He tried to lessen the margin of loss by putting in his substitutes, changing his strategy, and even putting restrictions on his players' scoring. But, if a middle school girl has a wide open shot to score, so that her parents can see, I would never begrudge her that. Our girls were a little upset, but I tried to encourage them by pointing out the fact that they had all just begun to play while the other team had been playing together for a while. I promised them that if they worked hard in practice, we would improve.

We never won a game that season. However, our last 5 games of the year went down to the wire. The girls' skills improved to the point where we could implement different offensive and defensive sets. They could finally put the ball in the basket. We had one game that went into double overtime against a team that had previously beat us by 20 points.

Oh, and the team we played first and lost to by 85, we played 2nd to last and lost by 3. Despite the losses, the improvement throughout that year was astounding and it was one of my favorite years coaching.

I thank that coach for having mercy on us in that first game. The score could have been much worse. But I also thank him for the harsh wake up call to the girls on my team that they had a long way to go. It lit a fire under them to really work hard in practice (and out of practice). Some of them went on to be very good players at the high school level. Sometimes we need to get our asses kicked, but the other side doesn't need to be a jerk about it (as it seems this particular coach from the article was).

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