This week I need to pause and brag on a bunch of 3rd and 4th grade kids! For the last three years, I've been a part of a great basketball organization in the Omaha metro area called, Score4Sports. This past season I had the pleasure of coaching 9 awesome kids. We focused on learning the fundamentals of basketball, give weekly challenges on improving their character, have fun, and make some great friends along the way. Some weeks, I think I was having more fun than the kids! Throughout this last season, I was continually reminded of how important it is to invest in our children, and not just in terms of finances and money management.
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. – Proverbs 22:6
What is Score4Sports?
Score4Sports isn't just your typical Rec basketball league for kids or another YMCA basketball league. It's a local organization that's dedicated towards providing more for children than developing their basketball skills. Top to bottom it's built on developing kids character through weekly lessons on the five letters of SCORE's acronym.
Besides the basketball aspect of SCORE, it really gave my team the opportunity to realize that it's not about winning a game or scoring the most points. It offered the opportunity to invest in developing long term character traits.
For our team (The Wildcats) we had such a fun season, because at the end of the day we knew it was all about having fun! Along the way, here are few of the things we focused on teaching our team:
- Discipline is painful – most kids now-a-days think that everything should be handed to them, or that talent is just born and you don't have to mature it. This season we focused on Hebrews 12:11 and what it means to be trained by discipline.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. – Hebrews 12:11
- Play for the team and not the individual – this year I focused a lot on positional basketball and having each of the kids know their spots and what they are supposed to do in each spot. It was easy to see how the whole team would brake down if one kid didn't fulfill their role and how the team is dependent on all the collective individuals. For being 3rd and 4th grade kids I had a total of 5 plays I had them memorize of the entire course of the year. Weekly I'd give them quizzes or drills to develop their discipline. By the end of the season my boys were able to continually and successfully execute every one of the team plays!
- Have fun – after losing the first game of our season a lot of our kids started to cry and really wore their heart on their sleeve. I told the kids, “Look at my face. You know why I'm smiling? Because at the end of my life none of you will remember that you lost this game. This game will mean nothing at the end of your life. The important thing to remember is that it's just a game. Have fun and be a kid!”
- Serve others – every week I'd award one or two kids players of the game, and a lot of times it would be one kid that was willing to put a teammate or opposing team member first. Whether it be setting a pick or helping an opponent off the floor I wanted our team to know how important it is to put others first. In addition, we stress the importance of serving in our communities whether it be by ringing the salvation Army bell or collecting donations/packaging meals for Kids Against Hunger. At the end of the day, our kids realized how blessed they were and the importance of paying it forward!
- The Importance of Prayer – this was probably my favorite aspect of the season, which was such a difference maker in our team. Before each game, our team would hold hands and say a prayer that would usually focus on service, being an example, or about having fun.
Each year that I serve in SCORE I feel like I get so much more out of the season, then the kids. It just brings back a lot of memories of my childhood and how much my Dad and Grandpa invested in me. Each season I realize how I'm being an example for the next generation. That is way bigger than basketball, but about building lifelong characteristics in our kids.
I'd be interested in hearing from our readers on how they are investing in the next generation of kids!