Here it is, the moment you have all worked so hard for, for so long. All those days of practicing free throws in the back yard with no one else around. All those weekend practices that were spent refining a game you grew up loving. You gave up a lot of things then, to get you to this point now. All those memories are behind you, and all those memories have prepared you for what now is in front of you, a chance to make one more wonderful basketball memory.
You are excited..how could you not be? One year ago, you were in this exact place in this exact moment about to play the exact team you are about to play. The universe is a crazy place, I’m sure you have already figured that out, but it is also a wonderful one as well. This is going to happen. This is finally going to happen. You are going to finally see what is on the other side of all that hard work and determination. You are going to finally get to finish what you started. No board, no council, no pandemic or natural disaster is going to halt it this time. The stage is set and the curtain about to be lifted on one the greatest moments in your young life. Are you ready?
Do you remember the school song? The one they play over and over again at games. The one that reminds you of who you are and your place in this crazy universe. Do you know the words to the beginning of it?
Cheer Cheer for Ole Harsthorne High
Give Three Cheers for Ole Harsthorne High
Loyal, Faithful, Brave and True
We’ll Always Be In Love With You…..
Loyal. Look at the girls around you while you ride the bus. Look at them as you get dressed. You have been loyal to them and they to you. You did not get to this magical place without them, nor did they get here without you. This is your tribe, your people. Even though you have a whole town behind you, these are the people that you need to look in the eye and trust. Not everyone makes it this far, but you did. You all did. And you did it all together. Remember that. This game isn’t about me, or your parents or your town. Don’t put that on yourself. I am an old man and have lots of my own wonderful memories from my time in high school. This is about you and those girls sitting next to you. These are the girls who’s weddings you will be in. These are the girls who you will call when their parents pass. These are the girls that no matter how much time passes, will always have a part of them in your heart and you in theirs. This is about the loyalty you have given to them, and the loyalty they have given to you. Look them in the eye, tell them you appreciate the journey you have gone on with them. Hold their hand and tell them you can’t image being anywhere else, with anyone else. You have their back and they your’s. And like this memory, know this loyalty will last a lifetime.
Faithful. Fatih is about believing in something that is bigger than yourself. It is about trusting the unknown and about working for a common goal, even when the path seems unclear and the way seems hard. Faith is about doing your work and trusting the process. Faith is also about believing that those around you are doing their work and trusting them and their abilities. You are part of something special, a group of girls that forged your own path to this place in history. And you did not do this alone. You trusted them, and they trusted you, and together, as a team, you have made your dream come true. That is Faith. Continue that faith with one another as you go forward and play these last few games. Trust in one another that you will do your best and they will do theirs. Have faith that the handwork you have done to get to this point, will also be the hard work that carries you through it. And have faith that no matter what, this team, this incredible group of girls, is going to get your back, and pick you up. You have made thousands of shots in your lifetime, and you have missed thousands of shots too. You will miss, but all those misses have helped you learn how to get better. Have faith in your ability, have faith in yourself. You got this, you really are good enough to beat anyone, you really have to believe that, because it’s true. Have faith in one another, have faith in yourself, because we all have faith in you.
Brave. Bravery isn’t about doing hard things. Here is something you should know about bravery; there is no such thing as bravery without vulnerability. A crazy person can run into a burning building. But a brave person is scared. A brave person knows what is at stake and knows the consequences of their action. There is no such thing as being brave without having some amount of fear. It is about recognizing that fear and those feelings and doing the right thing. You will have feelings, and you will have butterflies. Own them. Ask yourself why you feel that way. And chances are you think it is fear. But it isn’t. That feeling you have isn’t anxiety, it is excitement. The feeling you have in your gut is your body’s way of telling you that you are normal, that you recognize a challenge, and that you are being vulnerable. That’s a good thing. Why, because you can’t be brave without it. You recognize that there is a situation in front of you, but the good news is that you are not alone. Be brave, be amazing. You have had those feelings before and you turned out fine. You have had those moments of excitement and look where it got you? To the Tournament. Thank your body for the signal, thank the butterflies for reminding you of just how important this game and this group of girls are to you. And then take a deep breathe and tell them to get the hell out…that you got this, that you and your team have got this. Tell the butterflies about the shots you made and the games you have won. Tell the butterflies about the team and tell them about you. Butterflies know nothing about basketball….but you do. Tell the butterflies you are brave, that you have walked this road before with your fellow warriors, and you will take it from here.
True. Truth is hard. The truth can sometimes be the hardest thing in the world to hear and to say. But there is no growth without it. But truth will also lead you the way. Sailors long ago used True North to navigate uncharted waters. We talk about God being the Truth and Light. Shakespeare talks about “to thy own self be true”. Be true to yourself and your team. Don’t lose focus, don’t forget who you are and where you come from. Don’t let the bright lights and the loud noise distract from your truth. You are here because of that truth, and don’t forget that. You are a hard worker, you are a winner, you are a leader and you are loved. You are the person you need to be right now in this moment and trust the truth in that. You are not here on Earth by some randomness, and you certainly didn’t earn the right to play now by mistake. Believe in the truth of this moment, that you and this team are where you need to be. Be true to that, believe the hype, believe in all the hard work. But if you need something to guide you, if you need your North Star, just look around you. Look at your teammates and see in them, the truth. Believe in how you got here and believe that if you are lost, they will help you find your way. Look at them and know that they trust you, and they look to you for their way. We will always be greater than the sum of our individual parts, that is what a team is, one large unit made up of individual units that gave up their own individuality for the sake of the whole. That is truth. Be true to yourself, and be true to your teammates. Be true to the team.
We’ll Always Be in Love With You: Your family loves you. Your friends love you. The whole town loves you. You are a point of pride for everyone, but don’t play for us. Like I said earlier, I have my moments. I have my memories. I have my tribe. This is about you and the people you call teammates, your tribe. This is your time and your time alone. And no one can ever take that from you. You were loved long before you were a basketball player, and you will be loved long after. People are happy for you and people are excited for you, and let them be. But this is your time and your accomplishment. Cherish it, breathe it in and enjoy every moment. One day you will look back at it and be happy at this memory, and it won’t be about the outcome of the journey, it will be because of those you went on the journey with.
If you have learned anything between last year and this one, it’s that life is unpredictable. You have learned that no matter what you do and how hard you work, sometimes life can be unfair. You have something right now that was taken away from you last year. A chance. A chance to make a memory, to make a mark, to play for a championship. The only thing anyone of us really want in life, is a chance. The chance to live, the chance to love, the chance to be the person we were born to be. You have that chance this weekend, to fulfill a dream that started long ago when you first picked up that ball. Enjoy your time, for this is your time, and your teammates’ time to live. Life is not perfect, and you will not play perfect, but the memory of what you are about to do will be perfect. Enjoy the time, and enjoy the ones that helped get you here. Enjoy your life. Enjoy this magical moment that is in front of you, and trust in your ability to win. You have earned every bit of this chance.
Be Loyal. Be Faithful. Be Brave. Be True.
Be a Miner.