Teri Vance: Lessons learned from the sidelines

This week concluded my husband’s son’s basketball season with the Douglas County Parks and Recreation Department.

It was interesting to watch the boys over the last few months grow their skills individually and as a team. Watching from the sidelines, I learned my own lessons as well. I thought I’d share them with you.

1. Pass the ball. It was pretty apparent from watching middle-schooled-aged boys play passing the ball doesn’t come instinctually. Rather, the kids tended to hang onto the ball as much as they could, taking the shot even when it wasn’t under the best of circumstances. I can relate to that. When given an assignment or some sort of direction, it’s my tendency to try to handle it all myself. We should let other people help. We all have a team who’s willing to help us meet our goals. Use them. Not only is it more efficient, it’s more fun.

2. Claim your space. Our team, the Spurs, won the first game somewhat easily. Then came the second game. The Spurs were taken off guard by the aggression of this team that would just grab the ball from the hands of our players. How many times do we let others grab what is ours? If you want it, go after it. I tell my public speaking students when they’re in front of an audience, they need to own the space. Don’t shrink. Be proud of what you do. Own it.

3. Listen. Coach Joel Greenfield spent time talking to his players after each game. During practices, he explained techniques before having the boys run the drills. My husband’s advice to his son, Silas, “When your coach talks, listen. When your coach talks to someone else, listen. You can learn from other people’s mistakes.” We have a lot of mentors in life. We start with our parents, then teachers, coworkers and trusted friends. We can learn from their wisdom and experiences. We just have to listen.

4. Practice. Sometimes, it felt like we were watching two different teams from practice to game time. Skills the boys had mastered in practice fell by the wayside come game time. Gary phrased it like this, “Under pressure, you revert to what you know most, not what you know best.” There’s only one cure for that, and it’s more practice — until what you know is best is what you know most. Raw talent only gets us so far. None of us can reach our best potential without hard work.

5. Victory doesn’t always mean winning. It was frustrating for the boys when they didn’t win a game. I think it was sometimes frustrating for the coach, too. But in the bigger picture, the lessons learned in teamwork and persistence will far outlast the final scores. The team may have been eliminated from the championships, but they each walked away as victors.


Ted Rupert, owner of Rupert’s Auto Body, has jumped in Lake Tahoe as part of the Polar Plunge to benefit Special Olympics since the inception of the event 13 years ago. He’s now recruited his children to join in the fundraiser. He sent in this photo of the brave endeavor.

Teri Vance is a journalist, freelance writer and native Nevadan. Contact her with column ideas at terivance@rocketmail.com.


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