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DOCUMENTS


The Tentacle


March 31, 2006

The New Patriots

Derek Shackelford

Sports can be an excellent metaphor for life. The attraction is global. Much of our sporting events are televised globally. We have the Summer and Winter Olympics in which many nations and countries participate.

Our sports even have governing bodies which are international. Most of the major events are well attended and - in fact - highly financed. Television networks pay huge amounts to broadcast these events.

The Super Bowl in February was one of the most watched events in many years. Recently we had the World Baseball Classic, which brought countries together to determine who has the best baseball players.

Our proclivity to gravitate to sports in the United States is astounding. Somewhere in all of us is the dream of making the winning shot, scoring the game winning touchdown, or kicking the winning goal. All of us who are sports enthusiasts have dreamed of these fetes at one time or another.

This is why the pressure is so high on youngsters to be very good at an early age. The prestige and financial rewards are astounding.

Although most of us will not make it to the level of a professional in athletics, participation in sports activity can be a start as a training ground for our attitudes in life. This is why this weekend I will be rooting for my alma mater - the George Mason Patriots.

Yes, that's right those same George Mason Patriots who are competing in this year's college basketball Final Four in Indianapolis. This team has captivated the nation and garnered national media attention.

As a basketball coach, there is more to coaching than just teaching the fundamentals. As a coach you can have a profound impact on the lives of those in your charge. There is more to be learned in a competitive game than from any classroom situation these young men may encounter.

Just during these NCAA tournament games, the George Mason players have learned trust, character, teamwork, perseverance, defying the odds, friendship, etc. Just in this short amount of time these young men have learned valuable lessons that will carry them through their lives.

In defeating Michigan State, North Carolina, Wichita State, and Connecticut, these young men have become odds busters and dream makers. When no one else believed in them, Coach Jim Larranaga instilled the value of hard work and the enjoyment of the moment onto college basketball's biggest stage.

While everyone has become enthused with the methodology that "Coach L" has used, it is not strange for the team. In fact one of the metaphors for life in this particular situation is that what you do when no one is watching may determine your success.

As a coach I have tried to instill these values in the players I have had the privilege of coaching.

So, tomorrow evening when you turn on the television set to watch the team from Fairfax, VA, keep in mind that we all could learn a valuable lesson or two about hard work, enjoying the moment, being odds busters, and dream makers.

This is an experience that will shape these young men for the rest of their lives.

So, I say to these young men who followed me onto those Patriot courts in Fairfax a decade ago, continue to be odd busters and dream makers. And, oh yeah, it sure wouldn't hurt if you rebounded and played defense for this could be your "One Shining Moment!"

Go GMU!!!



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