At the beginning of this year’s Bulldog Basketball season it was announced to our team that this year we were invited to attend an NBA game at the TD Garden on the last day of school before the holiday break. With shouts and high fives, our team could not have been more shocked and thrilled about the opportunity. Almost all of our players had never attended a professional game of any kind and several of our players had never taken a trip before outside of Vermont. For the next few weeks the team was filled with raw excitement, imagining the huge stadium, seeing their favorite players up close, staying in a hotel away from home, and touring Boston with their friends. This opportunity sparked healthy imagination that translated directly into real motivation and teamwork at practices and on game days.
As the trip drew closer, excitement transformed into nerves and daydreaming about the possibilities turned into worry, fear and panic about the unknown. One after another guys on the team started to think negatively about the trip, which led to low mood, a lack of teamwork and resistance about even going on the trip. And this is where the real work began. Every young player on this team was supported to identify and address their fear based thinking patterns that would ultimately derail this opportunity if left unaddressed. Each young player on this team was challenged to use new coping strategies to replace fight/flight reactions with the support of their coaches and teammates. This was the greatest measure of the team we had become. It was not the scoreboard or the wins versus losses in the book that reflected our growth. Our greatest achievement was the trust and interdependence that was developed on this team that supported each player to accept help and give help when it mattered the most. As a result of time, practice, skilled support and a genuine sense of community and belonging, each and every player was able to write a new script to address doubt, fear, and uncertainty. The outcome was magnificent- An amazing host of new memories that will last a lifetime.