Welcoming This New Season

I’m making it official…I am back from my blogging hiatus…again!!  It’s not that I haven’t thought about my blog almost daily, it is just that I have been too busy surviving this crazy life to write about it! That, and basketball season, a new job and life in general, has had me distracted!  So, here we go…bear with me as I get back in the saddle and remember how this thing works!!

I have had this blog 2 years now and can honestly say that its really difficult to blog consistently when I have my paying job and life to live at the same time!  But…I love it so much!  SO, my promise to myself, 3 months into this year…BLOG!  And do it as consistently as possible!

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Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

It is truly amazing what a weekend of sunshine can do for you!  As we enter back into our cold, gray world after a weekend excursion to a volleyball tournament at Myrtle Beach I am energized and feeling hopeful and determined in my spiritual life, our home, my physical fitness, everything!!!  I’m ready to kick start this spring and new year!  Yes, I know its March…and my first blog post of 2019…I’m a little behind but that’s ok, the sun is FINALLY shining!

Let’s talk about some GOALS for this new season!  Since I missed resolution season and I always screw those up anyway….lets just go with GOALS:

  1.  Say YES to God!  Focus less of my life and more on the lives of those around me, whether its holding a door and giving a smile in an everyday activity or finding ways to make this life better for a friend or complete stranger my answer will be YES in faithfulness!
  2. Gain control over my home and calm the chaos!  Last year I started out on a real roll!  I organized and cleaned and truly started the year out in a place of joy and renewal in our tiny home…and then Team Gunter had some life-changing events over the summer that ushered my blogging hiatus and turned our home upside down – literally and figuratively!  I have not been able to gain control since but I am determined!  SO, pray along with me; I am a pretty sucky Proverbs 31 woman but I’m gonna start working on it!
  3. Love this life we have been given and show gratitude for every moment of it!  I all too often find myself in a pity party for things in life that I am not exactly happy about…without even noticing how ridiculous that is (see Goal #1).  We have so much to be thankful for and its time to start showing it!

 

2 Weeks and Counting…The Basketball Season Countdown

    img_20180703_234246_6747610938281689502199.jpg We are exactly 2 weeks away from the start of basketball season and I can hardly think about anything else!

 

     Did you see how I just jumped right back in there, like I have not been on a blogging hiatus for 4 months now!  Yep, daily chaos, summertime fun, school starting back, a jury trial and writers’ block have gotten the best of me this summer (and fall)!  It isn’t as though I haven’t thought about blogging…I think about it all the time.  I write down ideas and quotes I like and think would make a good post; I carried my computer with me on vacation and while Elle was at basketball camp but this past summer I decided I just couldn’t write about it, I had to live it!  Unfortunately, Team Gunter also dealt with a bit of heartbreak this summer which may have added to my lack of blogging – if you can’t say anything nice…yada yada yada!  But anywho, I am back at it now and just in time for my favorite time of the year…BASKETBALL SEASON!!

     Why do I love basketball season so much…let me count the ways!

  1. I love the sounds, sights, smells and feeling I get from being in the gym. Yes, I  said smells!  It takes me to a more peaceful place.  I learned in college that there were not many problems that God and I couldn’t work out while in a gym alone with a basketball and prayers!

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    Photo by Bk Aguilar on Pexels.com

  2. I love to see my daughter and players putting in the work to achieve their goals.   In today’s world our kids expect to simply have things handed to them; if I leave my players with anything, I hope that one of the lessons they learn is that nothing good in life is ever free and that they can accomplish any goal they set their minds to as long as they are willing to put in the WORK!  So, I ask them to keep a notebook to show me what extra work they have put in during their free time and in the summer.  I also want them to be writing down their goals and keeping them in sight as they progress down that path! I had the pleasure of reading a devotional by Crystal Stine called Holy Hustle, based upon her book by the same name.  In the passage she discusses that God intended the work before us and therefore we should do it as if working for the Lord and give him the glory! It made me ponder about doing a better job of serving the Lord in all three of my professions: criminal defense attorney, part-time basketball coach and Mom; not simply just going through the motions for a paycheck or March! Ouch and Amen! (P.S. I ordered the book! I can’t wait for it to arrive!) 

     

  3. I love seeing the Sisterhood come together!   I started coaching basketball at the local middle school and junior varsity level five years ago.  We had a blast that first season; the players were relaxed without distractions, they trusted each other and me and we had very successful seasons!  Once my little 8th graders got to high school and influenced by the older girls and lost focus, life wasn’t always so easy.  We have had many highs and lows in the last 4 seasons but this year…the feeling is already different in the gym during pre-season workouts…they are focused, positive,  having fun and trusting each other and me like never before…they are developing into not just a team but a Sisterhood!   When I was in college and one of my teammates or I would be asked to join a sorority during fall rush an upperclassman teammate of mine, Brooke, would always quickly chime in that we were already in a sorority and our induction process was far worse than any hazing the sorority sisters could cook up.  We ran together, lived together, ate together, rode buses at all hours of the night together, endured injuries, heart-brakes, milestones, wins and losses together.  She was right, this was the closest thing sisterhood I could imagine.  Now that college is well in my rear-view mirror I still love and miss my teammates dearly, and have a complete desire for my daughter and the players that I have had the pleasure of coaching for the last 5 years to experience this type of relationship, one relatively few women their age get to understand…the sisterhood of  teammates.20180924_1457015713093968130368214.jpg

5 Life Lessons We Learn from March Madness

If you haven’t figured it out from my previous posts on this blog…this family LOVES basketball season!  We watch, coach, play and live basketball from November to March and really most every month in between!  After-all, what’s not to love!?!  As with everything else in life, it truly comes down to what your viewpoint is and how you choose to perceive certain situations and when it comes to sports and basketball its all good stuff here baby!  In, fact Team Gunter believes that there are important life lessons that can be garnered from March Madness and we take this opportunity to share them with you!

1.  SIZE DOESN’T MATTER.  

University of Maryland – Baltimore County’s 5’8″ point guard, K.J. Maura, showed the nation that great basketball players do not need to be 6-footers!  In fact, Maura admits that 5’8 may be pushing it a bit!  He doesn’t believe that his size is a hinderance to his game, in fact he reported to the Washington Post that his size was actually an advantage.  “My size is an advantage because a lot of guys are taller than me and they don”t expect me to be pressuring the ball.”  Maura told Washington Post reporter Steve Reed in an article posted on March 17, 2018.

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You see, Maura and many other tenacious athletes like him understand that accomplishing goals in sports or any area of  life isn’t about appearance at all,  its about taking control of the controllables, thinking outside the box, and not being afraid to chase you dreams;  even if you don’t fit the traditional mold!  It’s not being afraid to be who you are and to recognize and use your God-given talents and attributes to excel in your sport or profession and to achieve your goals!  So, K.J. Maura may never dunk a basketball and swing from the rim like his 6’8 counter-parts but what he can do is play tenacious, pestering defense and use his petite stature to slice and dice past larger, bulkier defenders as the drives to the basket to defeat one of the top teams in the nation in a game that will go down in history!

2.  PLAY WITHOUT HESITATION – GO FULL OUT.

I am constantly telling my players and kids that my biggest pet-peeve is when they don’t do things “full out.”  To me, its a waste of energy to only give 75%.  Why stay in defensive stance for 3/4 of the court only to stand up and let someone drive around you on the baseline!?!  Why spend time cleaning up dinner and washing dishes if you aren’t going to wipe off the stove and counter – its still dirty – and the water is right there to clean it!?!

 

 

 

This year’s NCAA basketball tournament has boasted more upsets that a few from teams that would not have appeared to have been worthy on a paper bracket sheet.  But, no one told them that!  They showed up and played “their” game without hesitation against the very best teams in the country and shocked the nation!  On the other hand, there were plenty of “good” teams that either under-estimated their competition or for some other reason showed up on the big stage and didn’t give the 110% required to propel them to a win!

I am loving the stories of lower ranked teams that suited up, warmed up and stepped onto a floor in an arena that may have been much larger than they had ever played on before and played without doubt – what did they have to lose!?!  What if we played EVERY game that way?  What if we approached life that way?  Confident, assured in our preparation, trusting our teammates, respectful of the gravity of the situation but unaffected by the largeness of the moment – that my friends is when we are teams and individuals are UNSTOPPABLE!

3.  ITS THE LITTLE THINGS (CULTURE WINS).

I can already see my players rolling their collective eyes as I jump up on this soap box again!  Close-outs, Box outs, keeping your hands high and in passing lanes, hedging on screens, Peek and Powerful, constant communication with teammates….all the “little” things in basketball that aren’t really “little” at all.  In fact, this tournament proves that the teams who focus on and execute on the minute details are the ones on the top of the score board and moving forward in the bracket.  They are committed to their defensive concepts and offensive strategy put into place by their coaches and program and are executing it in a precise fashion, even in “big” games – stick with your culture my friends!

It was much to my dismay as I watched my beloved Vols fall to Loyola, my real upset…why were they running and jumping at shooters!?!  Had they forgotten how to close out!?!  Did they not realize that as they went flying by the offensive player for the fifth time in a row that the Loyola player simply did a head fake and drove to the bucket or shot after the flash of orange defender went flying into the bench behind them!  I will be a University of Tennessee fan until the end but come on guys….these are basic defensive concepts….they won’t shoot over you if you stay on the floor with your hands high!  I feel like Coach Barnes may have told them this a time or two!  Stay true to your culture and do better next year!

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I read an article this week by the Chicago Tribune about the Wall of Culture that Coach Moser of  Loyola Chicago instituted in their locker-room. Is a commitment to these phrases a key to their successful season and trip to the Elite Eight? It was certainly a powerful enough idea that I posed the question to my G-Girls and asked them to tell me what phrases would go on our wall?

The lesson…stay true to your culture and the little things that your coaches (and parents) believe make your program great!  Pay attention to details, I know you don’t want to hold your hands in the air on defense but it may be the difference in a passer taking the look over your head or them feeling as though this defense has completely shut them down and settling for a poor shot or turnover.  Also, pay attention to the culture of how you behave on your team and respond to your teammates – love them, be positive to them and hold them to the high standards set by your program.

4.  YOU CAN’T DO IT ALONE – TEAMWORK PREVAILS

What more can I say…this one speaks for itself!  You don’t see a single team in the NCAA tournament, men’s or women’s, that are doing it alone!  Basketball, just as life, is a team sport and to excel on the highest level you have to trust and rely on your teammates.  The even more important part of this lesson is that sometimes on a team you have to be the role player, distributing the ball to the hot hand of your teammate or taking the charge and other times, your teammates need you to take the ball to the rim!  It’s that balance that makes teams great!

5.  IT DOESN’T HURT TO HAVE GOD ON YOUR SIDE!

This tournament season, Sister Jean of Loyola Chicago has taught us that even on the court, a little prayer goes a long way! Further, her spirit and love for watching her team play its way through the tournament is refreshing.

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I don’t pray for wins…never have and never will! But faith plays such a strong role in every aspect of our lives, why shouldn’t it in sports as well.  I often pray that my players are safe and play with clear hearts and minds and fully enjoy the game and all the positive attributes that can come from being an athlete and playing this game that I have loved most my life! I believe that training can be largely spiritual, there is nothing like being in a gym alone…I used to have my best talks with God and get in the best workouts in those moments!  When testing your own limits physically, mentally and emotionally isn’t this a perfect time to be talking to God…absolutely!  He may show you things about yourself you never even imagined…giving all glory to Him of course!

So, there you have it….I could go on for days but I’ll try to contain myself.  I love athletics! I choose for athletic experiences to be positive lessons, even when we aren’t necessarily winning!  You can do the same for your teams and families too!  Keep looking for those positives!

 

 

Prayer Warrior Challenge

As a basketball coach I challenge my players to be in “Warrior Mode” every game!  To our team, that means going the extra mile, supporting your teammates more and, making additional concessions for your teammates and team culture!  Our prayer lives are really no different.

In the small country church I grew up in, my sister, who was not even old enough to drive at the time, would belt out a rendition of a 1989 song called “Prayer Warrior” by Heirloom that would bring the congregation to its knees…sometimes literally!  Every time I hear that phrase, “prayer warrior”, I think of those early days in my Christian life.  I was just a teenager in those days as well but it was in those times that I determined I wanted to be a Warrior!

I have been blessed with wonderful inspiration from friends on social media lately.  Last week a friend posted this on Facebook:

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What an amazing idea!  I could hear my sister’s voice and the music and see the hands of all the mothers and church ladies around me raised high in the air and I may have even said out loud…”Amen”!

Well, I am game for a good challenge! Not that I don’t pray for my family and friends and those around me in need everyday but this a little extra…this is “Prayer Warrior Mode”!  I challenge you my friends, fellow mothers and Christians to be Prayer Warriors….praying for those in your community that God puts on your heart, believing that God changes lives!  #watchGod.

Now, get to praying! And in case you need a little inspiration…I have included the link to “Prayer Warrior” by Heirloom.  (Note, that while this is a beautiful song…it sounds slightly different to me in my memories)!