Tag Archives: Coaching Confessions

Sunday Morning Confessions 21

I’m not Catholic but on Sundays, I make confessions.  Instead of telling them to a priest, I tell them to you, the internet world.  I try to post these in the morning, but let’s be honest, they typically get posted on Sunday night or Monday morning.  The best part about these confessions is when you make them too, so don’t be bashful and add your own confession in the comments.

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1. I looked like an idiot when I didn’t know who well-known people are.  My most recent idiot moment came on Saturday.  Apparently Brendon Jennings was standing a few feet away.  When I was informed of this by excited voices, I responded with, “Who’s that? Did he go to Valley?”  People always assume that since I’m a basketball coach, I follow the NBA.  Obviously I don’t.

My other idiot moment came during our bunco game.  Yes, bunco, as in the dice game old ladies play.  I’m in a group that meets once a month and it’s a cool thing, okay.  I embarrassed myself by revealing my ignorance when I was at a table with the mega lotto winner (she got a check for $ 167 million last year and still loves to win 20 bucks).  She made a reference to Richard Ramirez and I, having never heard of this guy, asked if he was a childhood friend.  Apparently he is a well-known serial killer.  Man I hate looking like an idiot. Continue reading

Sunday Morning Confessions 9- Summer Coaching

Tomorrow marks the very last day of summer basketball.  I’ve spent the last 7 weeks with 10 squirrelly high school girls, so naturally I have a boatload of confessions.  I’ll share all but two of them.  Now you’re curious about the two I won’t share, aren’t you?  One must be kept confidential because if my girls ever found out, they’d be way too embarrassed, and I can’t share the other because I might lose my job.  Yeah, let your imagination run wild with that one.  But it’s not as crazy as you think.  And administrator, if you ever stumble upon this blog, I’m totally kidding.

So without further ado, here are my Sunday Morning summertime coaching confessions:

1.  I pretended to be a player.  Here’s the thing: I feel like their mom all the time.  They started calling me Mom and laugh pretty hard when I respond without hesitating.  Last weekend I chauffeured them around in a giant 15 passenger van, fed them, and gave them curfews and bed times.  I REALLY felt like their mom then.  Much to my chagrin, I’ve even been mistaken for one of the girl’s actual moms several times.  I must admit that we do share somewhat of a resemblance because of our Dutch roots:

but I much prefer being mistaken for her older sister than for her mom.  I mean, I’ve yet to see a mom master the “shake face” pose. Continue reading

Eight Months

I plan on vacuuming my room today. It’s been a few months and I have a cat who sheds so the carpet in my room is borderline disgusting right now. But I HATE vacuuming and will use any excuse in the book not to. For the past few months my excuse has been: I’ll clean once I’m not so busy with basketball. Well, our season officially ended last night. It wasn’t an awesome ending but it was an awesome season. And now I have time to do those things on my to-do list which I’ve been putting off “because of basketball” like vacuuming my room and washing my sheets and clipping my toenails. Who knows, maybe I’ll get real crazy and open my mail from the past 4 months.

Butterfly Destruction

I’ve never liked butterflies. They’ve always kinda creeped me out but I’ve found that people think you’re some kind of monster if you admit that you don’t like them. It’s like saying you don’t like sunshine or rainbows. Sure, they’re pretty and it’s cool how they emerge from cocoons, but really they’re just colorful moths masquerading themselves as if they weren’t flying bugs.
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And I hate flying bugs. I cringe and do a little internal freak out when they flutter and fly too close to me, flashing their colorful wings way too near to my face. I sense your judgment but I’m being honest here: butterflies, moths, bees, wasps- they’re all the same in my book. And even though I want to, society won’t permit me to swat these obnoxiously beautiful butterflies away. Because everyone hates bees and wasps but I’ve found people have an exceptionally low tolerance for butterfly-haters. Truth be told, I feel the same way about lady bugs. The only thing I like about lady bugs is that 1992 soccer movie with Rodney Dangerfield. But I digress. Lady bugs, butterflies: I’m on to you. The world might admire your beauty and grace but I see you for what you really are: dirty, nasty, flying bugs with a little splash color. S0 please, stay away from me.

Crying in the Locker Room

Seven years ago I sat in a locker room bawling for a good hour. They were fat, painful tears that left my eyes puffy and body drained. My college team was playing in the NAIA National tournament and I had missed a shot at the buzzer which would have won us the game to advance to the elite eight. I wasn’t crying about the shot, though. I was crying, sobbing rather, because I envisioned myself as a fourth grader, with a killer side pony, practicing my form with my dad in the backyard. I was replaying the hours and hours and hours I had spent on basketball courts from the time I first learned the game to that last shot as a senior in college. And I was realizing that it was all over. Basketball had consumed my time, my thoughts, my energy, my world for so long, and now it was over.

Causing A Scene

I accomplished a life goal today. I got on the jumbo-tron. Granted, it was at a women’s USC game and there were only about two hundred people attending so chances were high that we’d get on the screen, but we made it up there nonetheless. I went with my team and we discussed before the game our strategy if we did make it on the giant screen. Ugly faces, of course. I convinced them that we all needed to make thee grossest faces possible if we made it up. They agreed.

Throughout the game we saw awkward fans dancing and cute kids dancing but then came our shinging moment near the end of the game. During a time out, suddenly, there were our faces, magnified and staring back at us from above. We screamed and I screamed, “Ugly faces!” and went to work distorting my faces in as many ways possible. I had a large repertoire to pull from: double chins, awkward tongue placements, lots of crossed eyes. I heard the gym erupt in laughter and I was so proud of my team. However, I couldn’t see what they were doing since my eyes were crossed. However, when I finally uncrossed my eyes, I realized that I was the only one playing the game. All the other girls were watching the screen, watching me and laughing. It gets worse.
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Just so I wouldn’t miss out on how embarrassed I should have been in that moment, the cameramen, amused by my antics, showed an instant replay. I was able to watch the whole 10 second charade of me making really hideous faces while the team looked on and laughed. People turned and stared. I blushed. When we left the gym, several people gave me knowing looks and giggled at me. I felt a bit like a celebrity but not in a good way.

One of the joys of coaching is being able to pass on knowledge to the next generation. I taught the girls nothing about basketball today. However, I passed on much other valuable information. Not only did I teach them what to do when on the jumbo-tron, I also taught them how to distract a free throw shooter. They were yelling awkward words and I was doing Xena the Warrior Princess esq yells. We got quite a few looks at this game.
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They also learned what to do when cheering for the visiting team. Some junior high girls sitting in front of us continually turned to “mad dog” us when we cheered for Oregon State. What did the mature coach do? I said loudly, “We’ll be cheering all game. Stop looking so surprised.” Basically, I was teaching them how to get in fights at sporting events.
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They also learned what to do when bored. I made two of the girls play rock-paper-scissors and the loser had to ask a cheerleader to take a picture with her. They both ended up in the picture and made me proud with these faces:

After the game, I taught them how to walk awkwardly when in busy crosswalks and more importantly, I introduced them to Freebirds.

I frequented this burrito wonderland often while going to Westmont and another one finally opened closer to us. We ended our outing by stuffing our faces with giant, delicious, meaty burritos. Twas wonderful.
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I rushed from one college game to the next and joined my family cheering for my Dad’s team. However, I caused another scene at this game. There was no jumbo-tron but my presence was felt more than I ever intended. First, Vander and Huddy went missing. I have a bit of my mom in me and we both freaked. Heidi was surprisingly calm and collected (she gets that from our dad) because she knew they had to be in the gym. I, on the other hand, was having visions of them being kidnapped and freaked out a tiny bit. Only strangers witnessed the freak out. I told 6 or 7 different security personel to be on the look out for two blonde boys. I might have run down a few halls. I was basically on the verge of tears by the time I discovered their hiding spot in an area that was locked but someone had held open for them. “Look, Katie, a miniature ladder just for me!” beamed Vander while I grabbed him and hugged him. I might have cried a little. I might have run and scooped up Huddy and ran to show them to my mom who was equally frantic.
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Then during half time, the boys wanted to shoot on the main court. They grabbed volleyballs and started shooting but insisted that I come play with them. Then they insisted that I shoot. I realized that the whole crowd was bored and had nothing to watch but me playing with my nephews on the court. I was also aware that my shirt was tied too tight to give me full range of motion for a normal shot so I used every trick up my sleeve to distract Vander so I wouldn’t have to shoot and rip my shirt in front of the crowd. Out of excuses, I finally shot an akward looking shot and of course the ball landed right on Hudson’s head and I looked like the jerk aunt who instantly started laughing. Don’t worry- he got his revenge…
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Later, we caused another scene when we were playing with volleyballs in the upper level. I wasn’t watching Huddy closely enough who decided to chuck his ball over the railing. It hit a person and bounced onto the floor. If you read a few posts ago, he threw his toy horse and lion on the floor when I was watching him. I fear a pattern is emerging. However, this time, instead of pointing at Huddy, I just turned and ran behind a wall so no one could see me. When the whole crowd looked to see where the flying volleyball had come from, they could only see the red-faced 2 year old beaming.
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Today was a full one indeed. Full of funny and awkward and embarrassing moments. Full of basketball and burritos and the people I love. Maybe it was the clear skies and the tall palm trees; or maybe it was the bright sun and 80 degree weather; or maybe it was all the laughter but today was indeed a beautiful one.

Coaching Confessions Part 2

My entire family is a collective bunch of ref-yellers. Clump us together in a gym with inadaquate refs and there is destined to be a mini-Hardeman riot. We’ll go nuts booing and screaming and berating and quite frankly, causing a bit of a scene. My brothers, sister and I show no mercy when a ref makes a bad call. Even my dear, sweet mother has been known to join in the jeering and tell a complete stranger to, “Get a new job cause you’re awful at this one.”
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Growing up sitting in countless gyms watching countless games coached by my dad, all four of us learned at an early age the joy and wonder of yelling at a ref. This was the one time in life when we could spit insults at someone and not be punished. Any bottled up anger and frustrations with our teachers or siblings or parents or life in general were released on these innocent, black and white striped strangers. We never said anything too hurtful (except for Trent who has been kicked out of a few gyms for his particulary spiteful comments) but I see now the odd nature of the whole charade that some may say is not very “Christian.”
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But hey, it is part of the game and Jesus yelled at the Pharisees who probably would have been better refs than some of the ones we’ve seen. In the last three years though, I’ve toned downed my chiding of refs as a spectator. This is in no way due to burgeoning maturity on my part. It’s actually because I have no bottled up frustrations to release. What’s my secret? The peace that surpasses all understanding? Nope. I’m working on that but truth be told, I’ve already released all the anger screaming at refs as a coach.
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Tonight while I stomped my heel and furrowed my brow and got in the face of a sweet, elderly Asian man and screamed until my spittle hit his cheek, I had a funny realization. In the midst of moments like these, while I am jabbing my finger at his chest and yelling that, “You’re terrible! How could you miss that foul?” I am often simultaneously thinking, “Who am I and what on earth am I doing?” Screaming at refs as a spectator is kinda fun but they never can really hear you (unless you’re my brother and he’s yelling hilarious insults when it’s awkwardly quiet and the whole gym turns to us so my mom has to leave since she’s embarrassed) and even if they could, they don’t care what you, a spectator, think of their decisions. But one of the glories of being a coach is that they actually do listen to my chiding and answer to me. This was beyond strange when I first started coaching. I would fume and yell about bad calls and then they’d come and explain their decisions. They never did that when I was yelling from the stands. The power was intoxicating.
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It seems only fitting that following this mention of me screaming at a sweet, old man when we were winning by 30, that I make a few other confessions.
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coaching confessions part 2
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1. I nearly made a grown man cry. I hesitate to admit this because I realize I’m painting myself to be a a bit of an unfeeling monster. But in our most recent game this poor, pony-tailed man in his thirties made the wrong call and had no idea who he was messing with. He clearly hadn’t heard from the refs from the previous game because they would have told him to be sure to run on the other side of the court and steer clear from me when they make the wrong call. Since he was standing right by our bench, I may have gotten in his face and I made have had some choice words for him. I ended my rant with, “What more do you want?” and his lip quivered. Literally quivered. And then he stammered, “Uh, I…I um didn’t think she went straight up.”
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My thoughts: “Holy moly, he’s about to cry. What have I become?”
My response: “Well, you’re wrong,” and I stormed away.
My assistant and I later had a good laugh but I actually felt quite bestial.
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2. I may have lost a game for us due to my drug-induced state. If you read this post, you know that I was a bit “out of it” last week. Kids are still telling me, “I keep hearing stories from your first period class about Monday. I wish I had seen you that morning.” On that morning I said everything that I usually only think. Turns out my thoughts are pretty bizarre- I always suspected this but Monday confirmed it. So the weekend BEFORE I lost all credibility as a teacher, I coached a game after genuisly taking Nyquil earlier that day. I was lost in a deep fog and it was not pretty. I mustered up some energy but I know I wasn’t completely lucid. I got in a disagreement with a ref and found myself saying over and over, “You’re wrong. Nope. You’re wrong.” I must’ve said it at least 7 times. Then we were losing with only 30 seconds so I called a time-out. I drew a sorry excuse for a play on the clipboard and said, “Um, Kari, you shoot it.” She saw my glassy, unfocused eyes and said, “Okay, but what should we do on defense right now? We should foul right?” “Uhhhh, yeah. Do that.” We lost by four.
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3. I’ve taken my frustrations out on my girls. At times, these sweet girls are sadly the victims of my bad moods. I am not proud of this. It’s something I hope to change. Once I hadn’t eaten all day and ended up yelling at them during a casual shoot around. (The Hardemans do NOT function well without food.) The most recent occurrence happened when I received bad news right before practice began. My girls know me so well that judging by my tone and body language, they knew I had instantly gone from a great mood to a terrible one. One girl tried to hug me. I denied her hug. Maybe that was their first clue. (Yes, that’s the second time I’ve denied someone a hug this season.) Another girl told my assistant, “Uh-oh, she’s pissed.” Sure enough, I yelled at them before practice even offically started for not running to the huddle fast enough. In both cases I apologized the next day. In both cases we laughed about it the next day. My girls are kind and offer me much needed and much appreciated grace when I blow a gasket and take my frustrations out on them. (Despite this post, I’m typically quite joyful so please don’t think I have an anger problem.)
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4. I turn everything into a competition. Who doesn’t love a little healthy competition? However, this past week I realized I may take it a bit to the extreme. Whenever my girls ride in my car we always play, “guess the song and artist” on the radio. I usually dominate on the Christian and country radio stations and get dominated when listening to that crazy hip-hop music. Answers are typically yelled as fast and as loud as you can. (I’ve caught myself a few occassions screaming the name of song when I’m alone in the car) Competition spices things up but I may have crossed the line of “healthy competition” when I gave some dental floss to a player after our pre-game meal and said, “Bet I can get a bigger chunk of food out of my teeth than you can.” For the record, I totally won. Thank you top left molar.
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5. I read a book during the boys’ intense game. I thought I would trick people with my fancy new Kindle so they wouldn’t realize I was sneaking in a chapter from Cold Tangerines but a fellow English teacher sitting nearby said, “Katie, are you seriously reading a book right now?” Of course my players overheard and mocked me mercilessly. In my defense, A- it was a really good book and B- I was drained from the game we had just played and didn’t have the emotional energy to allow myself to get involved in a close game.
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6. I’ve given some very mean, very awkwardly long dirty looks. (I repeat: I do not have an anger problem) When I was teaching in Mozambique, Ude, one of my sweet South African students interrupted a lecture to say, “Miss Katie, has anyone ever told you that you look like the White Witch from Narnia?” Since then I’ve been told that I resemble this infamous white witch on a number of occassions and when I coach, I think that, barring the weird armor and sword, I might actually look like my doppelganger:

I gave this exact piercing look to an opposing team and to a whole crowd when they yelled, “AIRBALL” when my shooter airballed a shot. It’s quite hypocritical of me since I used to love to chant that as a spectator but I am defensive of my girls and their feelings. It’s just not classy for another team to chant “airball” so when they did, I glared so long at their bench that they stopped and their coach gave me a very apologetic look. Then some boys from the opposing school were sitting close to our bench in another game and chanted airball so I turned and made direct eye contact with each of them until they stopped. I know no awkwardness when I’m mad. I heard snickering shortly thereafter but I had made my point: if you chant, “airball” I will shoot you a slightly terrifying look.
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7. I embarrassed the “airballing” shooter in front of her fans. Just so you don’t think she airballs all the time, I must tell you how she earned quite a following at a neutral school. Students from this school would come to our tournament games just to watch her and cheer for her. After our last game they were singing her praises and had a camera out so I, being such a helpful coach, said, “Hey do you guys want a picture with her?” She shot me a very dirty look but her new fans loved it and all jumped in as I snapped the shot.
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8. I told the girls, “Don’t try to win. Just have fun.” Great half-time pep talk, eh? We were getting demolished by a team that is significantly better than us. I ordered, yes ordered, the girls to have fun during the second half. “I don’t care how much we lose by. Let’s just make better decisions and enjoy the game. You have to laugh this half.”
“Coach, we HAVE to laugh?”
“That’s right. It’s an order. Now go enjoy yourself, or else.”
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So I was quite proud when I saw the other team shooting a free throw and our team was in hysterics. I was confused why the other team was joining in the laughter as well, though. The reason for their laughter is one of my favorite stories of the season. One of my girls had gone to block a shot but fouled the girl hard and had let loose some gas while in the air. (She has infamously foul-smelling gas) The other team went to help up their teammate and unknowingly walked right into the sour cloud. They all started falsely accusing their own teammate while she shot the free throw but the poor girl knew it wasn’t her. She pointed her finger at my girl, but feeling quite embarrassed as all eyes were on her, she smiled innocently and denied it. The old saying proved to be true: “He who denied it, supplied it.” I can still picture the giggling girls bent over at the free throw line laughing uncontrollably about the horrible odor festering in the key and it makes me smile.
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9. I used a unique strategy to get a man to move who was cramping my space. During our game, the ref for the following boys’ game sat a little too close to my area for my liking. I never sit while I coach, but if I had, I would have had to be right next to this intruder. He didn’t respond to my “why are sitting so close to me?” look and I couldn’t just ask him to leave because that would be weird. So I did what any problem-solver would do who had eaten something for lunch that was not sitting well. I stood directly in front of him and let out the SBD I had been holding which smelled similar to a dead animal. (I’m sorry, mom- I try not to be too crude on here but I was so impressed that my brilliant, albeit disgusting, strategy actually worked.) I held my nose and lingered and then paced away and when I returned, surprise surprise, intruding ref had disappeared.
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This last confession has nothing to do with coaching but I have get to 10 so I can have a “10 on the 10th” post but it still involves basketball.
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10. I didn’t do the best job supervising my nephews at my dad’s game. Two year old Huddy and four year old Vander were playing calmly with their animals when Huddy decided he wanted ALL the animals. Vander refused. Huddy fumed. Terrible twos. He looked at me, looked at the plastic horse clenched in his paw, glanced at the nearby court where the game was being played and then chucked it with all his force onto the court. I wish I could say I leaped into action. I didn’t. I yelled, “Heidi! Horse on the court!” and his mom sprang into action and retrieved the horse. But before she could return to scold Hudson, he looked at me again and the lion went flying. Again, my response was probably not the most mature but I noticed my dad’s team all looking my way so I put my head down and pointed my finger at the raging Hudson to clarify who the guilty party was. I later learned that basically the whole gym had been watching since the teams nearly tripped on the flying animals. Thanks for that Huddy.

Coaching Confessions

As the daughter of a basketball coach, I was raised in a gym. I am at home in a gym. I am alive in a gym. I love this place. I love the sounds heard only in here. I love the cacophony of squeaking sneakers, the screech of skin sliding across the wood floor, the grunts and wails as bodies collide, the thundering stampeding of footsteps, the bounce of the ball, the hoots and hollers from the crowd, the sweet swish of the net, the loud blast of the buzzer, and the piercing shrieks of referee whistles and of angry coaches. I love it all.
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And it’s a good thing I love it so much since I’ve spent 36 hours this past week in the gym. Between practices, shoot-arounds, walk-throughs, scouting, and playing in the tournament we are hosting, I’ve spent more time in the gym more than I have in my bed. But I’m not complaining. I love it here. Sure, I may refer to it as my “hell week” and I may have bags under my eyes, but I’m doing what I love in a place I love. However, I do have some confessions.
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Coaching Confessions Part 1
(because I’m sure there will be many more throughout the season)
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1) I was late to practice. This will come as no surprise to my colleagues since I’m often ducking into meetings 10 minutes late, but I’m never late to practice. I was annoyed and confused when I walked in the gym and the lights were still off and the girls weren’t warming up. However, they were making me very proud. Here’s what they were up to:
Youtube clip they posted. The lil punks.
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2) I continued the scaring war. I usually stay after practice to rebound for our shooter and have hidden in different spots in the locker room to scare her when she comes out. It’s such a satisfying feeling to watch her jump, scream and nearly fall to the floor. However, the other day I planned an elaborate scare that went awry. I hid outside and waited behind the door she typically exits from. I waited for 10 minutes. The suspense built as I twiddled my thumbs waiting. I was going to get her good. But then she came out the other door and saw me standing and waiting like a fool. I felt very silly. And then I lied and told her I had only been waiting for 3 minutes. I couldn’t let her know just how pathetic I actually am.
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3) I have yelled at girls with a lisp. The orthodontist said I’d have a lisp for a day or two as I adjusted to Invisalign. It’s been a month. Truth be told, I rather like my lisp. I think it adds character. But students giggle as I read aloud and my players tease me mercilessly when I’m yelling at them and they hear the lisp. Even I had to stop and laugh when I was yelling at Kristen but accidentally called her Christian.
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4) I have a dirty mouth. It’s not what you think. I’m not one of those coaches that swears at her players. However, I’ve found no adequate substitute for the phrase “half ass.” And that is often how they play. But “half butt” makes no sense and I’ve tried screaming, “You’re playing lackadaisically!” but it truly does not have the same effect. I once yelled, “You’re playing half….as hard as you should be.” They knew I was trying not to say “ass” and they laughed at me. But I was most disappointed in myself last night. It was a super intense game against a rival school and one of our best players fouled out. And I said shit. Not super loud but loud enough for my parents to hear who were sitting a few rows up from me. Loud enough for my Athletic Director to hear who was sitting right behind me. Loud enough for me to feel ashamed. I coach girls who aren’t allowed to say “pissed” or “crap” and who say I’m a bad influence on them since I often use the phrase, “don’t crap your pants.” So you can see why I’d feel so awful about saying “shit” in front of them AND their parents. However, when I asked my parents if they heard, my own mom, whom I was most concerned about since she cringes when I say “butt”, offered me grace and said, “We’re all human.” I think she just felt bad that we lost:)
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5) I am a bit of a yeller and can be a bit obnoxious about it. This is what usually scares people who know me only as teacher, friend, or family member and have never seen me coach. The yelling scares some people. I see it in their eyes. I see shock and horror and genuine fear. It makes me feel rather beastly. My own nephew cowered in fear last year when he sat behind our bench. My roommate was shocked and probably a little scared to get on my bad side. My British friend, Tom, visited last year and admitted after the game that he was a bit “terrified” of me. Terrified. If you’ve seen my dad or my high school coach in action, you’d think I’m tame. I don’t throw chairs, veins rarely bulge from my neck and forehead, but I do raise my voice… just a little. I didn’t realize just how obnoxious I am until we watched game tape and my own voice made my ears bleed. It’s a necessity though. It makes my girls play harder and smarter.
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When I missed the first part of a game because I was coming from a wedding and was stuck in traffic, the girls played “half ass.” One girl even said, “Coach, I needed you here to yell at me. I was playing like a freshman.” I feel bad sometimes though and last night at half time I explained that I love them and am only yelling to make them go harder. I know- it’s a weird way to express my love to scream, “Catch the freakin ball!” But nevertheless, it is an expression of my love.
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6) I occasionally sass the refs. I’ve never gotten a T, wait- maybe I did my first year but I’m sure I didn’t deserve it. However, I’ve often been told to sit and remain in my “coaching box” since I tend to pace like a caged animal. And sometimes I sass the refs. While my girls can always hear me screaming directions to them, the refs often don’t hear me requesting a timeout even though I’m literally SCREAMING, “Time out!!!” This happened last week. I must have screamed it about 12 times. No exaggeration. When he finally called it, he came over and said, “I had to wait till your team had possession of the ball to call the timeout.” My humble, Christlike response?
“We had possession when I called timeout the first 5 times. That’s why the entire gym is laughing at you right now.” And I whipped my hair around and turned back to the huddle of now-giggling girls.
Truthfully, the crowd was laughing at me and my hysterical screams, but I didn’t care. Coaching definitely brings out a different side of me.
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7) I am not always very professional. My incredible shooter is getting recruited by some top schools so I get a lot of calls from college coaches. A few weeks ago, I was waiting for a call from a dear friend living in Spain. She called during my prep period, right as I was entering the Chick-fila drive through. I was so excited to talk to her that when I saw the unfamiliar number, I answered the phone in my best Mrs. Doubtfire voice and yelled, “Hell-ooooooooooo!!!!” Pause. “Um….is this coach Hardeman?”
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My thought process: “Oh crap. This is definitely not Christy. How do I play this off?”
I cleared my voice and cringed as I said, “Yes? May I ask who is calling?”
“So and so from Harvard. I’m calling about Kari.”
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Harvard. It couldn’t be some state school. Harvard called recruiting Kari and I sounded like a total buffoon. She was gracious and pretended like I hadn’t made a fool of myself and went on a long spiel about why they were interested in Kari. Of course I had to interrupt her to say, “Can I get the number 5 with a lemonade?” Luckily, Kari doesn’t want to go to Harvard.
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I also showed my classy professionalism this week when I went to scout a game in my pjs. I was proud of myself for remembering the video camera which I had forgotten when I went to tape a game the week before. I was exhausted and it was rainy and I figured no one would recognize me. But then I walked in the gym and some coach definitely did recognize me because he said, “Hey Coach, how’s your team doing?” What the? How on earth do you know I am a coach? I look like a homeless woman right now. In hindsight, I realized he must have known me from the “coaching world.” Lesson learned- bring a video camera but don’t look like a bum when scouting games.
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8) I don’t always know information I should about our team. So my players know our record better than I do- big whoop. I remember as a high school player reading the paper all the time to see my name and read about our team. I don’t even get the paper now. (perhaps that’s why I didn’t know about the coal miners until they were released) My perspectives have changed since high school and I know how we played each night- I don’t need to read the thoughts of some newspaper guy about my team. A player asked if I saw the new rankings in the paper and then laughed when I said I don’t get the paper and didn’t care about it. “Coach, I feel like I know more about our team than you do.” Whatever kid, I know the important stuff. And when there is a really ridiculous picture of you in the paper, someone will tell me about it. And I’ll find that picture have it made into a fridge magnet like I did with the one from last year where you look like you have cleft palate. I laugh at her every morning when I open the freezer to get my eggos.

9) My girls are a little too comfortable with me. You might doubt this after I’ve told you that I scream at them but they LOVE to try to make me awkward. One girl in particular has the ability of making me blush easily. She once picked me up after a game to show me how strong she was. She also likes to try to give me the “good game” butt tap on occasion just to irritate me. Last week was the worst. The coach of the host school was super chatty and happened to be a young guy. Every time I talked to him the girls would huddle and giggle. This particular girl even walked right up to us when we were talking and took a picture. Talk about awkward.
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10) I can get a tad fired up when we play poorly. Just a tad. Yesterday I might have slammed some doors at half time. And I may have broken some heels from stomping my feet so hard. And okay, so maybe I punched a car after our loss. But I was walking in the pouring rain without an umbrella and they drove right in front of me slowly and they needed to know that it was very rude. And sure, a parent tried to hug me after the game and I denied her hug and said, “Not now.” Really though- I am not a hugger and definitely do not feel like hugging after a loss.
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However, it was hard to angry tonight even though we were playing terrible. I struggled to get angry because Hudson and Vander sat behind the bench. Huddy kept saying, “Katie, Katie, Katie” until I would smile at him. And then Vander kept trying to have a conversation with me.
Vander: “Katie- did you know I’m going to have a ninja turtle party?”
Me: “Very cool. Nia!!! Watch the weakside!!!”
Vander: “Shredder’s coming to it.”
Me: “No way. Box out Lianna!!!!”
These boys are great reminders that it is just a game. Yes, I will always be intense but I can always laugh off a loss when I see their smiling faces.

HANDS

I’ve been thinking a lot about hands lately. Not just because I have giant man hands. (no joke- my high school coach said it was the first thing she noticed about me. Awesome) I’ve noticed that there is power in hands. There is meaning in hands. Messages are sent in hands. Assumptions are made based on hands. They have the power to destroy or create or utterly humiliate. I have been finding this to be true in many different circumstances.

I have seen the power of hands after each basketball game. My team probably talks more about the post-game hand-shaking line than any other team. This line offers so much potential for awkwardness and since I have such a love of awkward moments, this is beginning to rub off on my girls. I once dared a player to give the opposing coach a side hug rather than a high five and she did! I was so proud. Then in a recent game one of my girls dressed in street clothes and since she looks much older than her little 16 years, the other coaches assumed she was a coach and shook her hand rather than giving the traditional coach/player high five. She was ecstatic and I made her pretend to be a coach the next few games to see what others would do; they fell for it and we fell over laughing. Oh the little victories in life.
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To further illustrate the awkward breeding ground that is the post-game hand-shake line, let me tell you about my dear friend Katie. She is a fellow coach and fellow lover of all that is awkward. She shook hands with the opposing coach and went to say the traditional “post game encouragement” line such as: “Hey, you’ve got a great team,” and “Good luck to you this year”, or “You guys are really good.” What did Katie say? “You good guy.” I love that. I wish I could have witnessed it. It reminds me of this Brian Regan clip.
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In case you’ve never played a team sport, after the game each team yells the opposing team’s name and then lines up and gives each other high fives and says, “good game.” However, coaches don’t high five each other. Those are reserved only for players. We shake hands. It sends a different message than merely slapping some skin and enables us to exchange a few additional pleasantries.
Most head coaches are older men and since I’m a young, often frazzled-looking girl, I try to prove my maturity by giving them an extra firm handshake.
.The problem I face, however, is this- I use a green white board marker to draw up plays and in the heat of the game, I never remember to use the eraser and just wipe the board clean with my hand. This leaves me with a green-stained hand by the end of the game, occasional green smudges on my face and clothes and leaves me feeling a bit self-conscious as I go to slap hands with the other team looking like Kermit the Frog. I fear my green hand sends the message, “I’m a bit of a hot mess,” which, truth be told, isn’t totally inaccurate according to my team.
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I found a new power in hands last night as we shook hands with a team that beat us. They are better than us. No shame in losing. But then their assistant coach went and clenched my hand too soon, before I could get a grip. This annoyed me and sometimes I react like a 12 year-old so I got my revenge on the head coach. I grabbed the tips of his three fingers and clenched. I clenched hard. And then I shook those three fingers like it was totally normal but surely it must have been painful. “Sure, you beat us by 15 but how are your fingers feelin now, sucka?” Revenge sure can be sweet. (note: I never call people “sucka” in real life)
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I’ve also found the power of hands whenever holding hands during prayer. The other day I was out to breakfast with a bunch of girls I didn’t know very well. We went to bless the food and some girl more affectionate than I decided we should hold hands. So I linked up with the girl next to me whom I had never met. We did the “3 second dance” trying to figure out whose hand would go where and then successfully linked with only one little awkward chuckle. But then some girls got distracted. And then the waiter started bringing our food. And pretty soon just the two of us were left holding hands and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to appear rude and release her hand and make her feel awkward. “Surely everyone else will relink in just a second,” we both thought. But as seconds passed, it became more and more obvious that we were strangers holding hands for no reason. Neither of us wanted to cave. Neither of us wanted to acknowledge the awkwardness. But we finally looked at each other and laughed and released…only to link up 30 seconds later. I then gave her the squeeze at the end of the prayer.
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I cannot help but do the “amen squeeze.” I think it’s encouraging and clarifies that, “yes, I see that the prayer is officially over and we can release hands now.” It’s a habit. But I don’t squeeze men’s hands. I fear it sends the wrong message. Girls, however, will always receive a squeeze from me, regardless if I know you or not. I thought nothing of this squeeze until my girls started fighting about who has to stand next to me at the end of practice when I pray for us. They’ve started squeezing back and squeezing hard. Oh the power of hands.
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I found the power of hands when I watched this YouTube clip as I researched “slam poetry.” Kim, my new blogging friend, introduced me to the poetry and I love it. She challenged me to write my own and though I’m certainly no poet and wrote something that probably doesn’t fall under the genre of “slam poetry”, the writing process was surprisingly therapeutic. I mention in my poem the image of me nestled in the Father’s giant, cracked hands. See, hands have been on my mind.
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I found the power of hands when I heard the song, “In Better Hands” by Natalie Grant. (warning: if you watch the video and you’re a girl, have tissues ready. I was not prepared. ) Here are some of the lyrics:
There is hope when my faith runs out
Cause I’m in better hands now

It’s like the sun is shining when the rain is pouring down.
It’s like my soul is flying though my feet are on the ground.
So take this heart of mine, there’s no doubt
I’m in better hands now.

I am strong, all because of you.
I stand in awe of every mountain that you move.
I am changed, yesterday is gone.
I am safe from this moment on.

There’s no fear when the night comes ’round
Cause I’m in better hands now.
I also found the power of hands when I read Psalm 95:3-5 which says:

3 For the LORD is the great God,

the great King above all gods.
4 In his HAND are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
5 The sea is his, for he made it,
and his HANDS formed the dry land.

The creator of the universe holds the depths of the earth and the depths of my heart in His giant, all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful hands. Wow. No wonder the psalmist goes on to say:
6 Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
7 for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.
Yes, being in His hands causes me to worship, causes me to rejoice and dance and sing and rest. Hands are certainly powerful. But HIS are the most.

10 Everyday Injuries

In our second game Kari might have set a new school record by making eleven 3 pointers. Eleven. That’s unheard of. But sadly, I think I may have stolen her thunder. How you ask? Watch this video. I’m standing in the green yelling at Kristen to get in front of her man.

I kind of wish the video was clearer and I could figure out the slow motion feature, but I kind of don’t. It’s painful enough reliving this moment of sheer shame and humiliation. Have you ever had an entire gym laugh at you? I don’t recommend it. I had experienced this as a player, but never as a coach. Here was my thought process in those 2 seconds after the ball nailed me in the face at 100 miles per hour: Continue reading