Here it is, two days before the release of my debut novel, CLAIMING MOON, on Kindle (Nook, other formats to follow). I should be all wrapped up in preparing for that, nervous, thinking more about how to get the word out, continuing to find reviewers for the work, all that sort of stuff.
I am doing that, I really am. But you know what is foremost in my mind right now?
Any of you who know me know I coach, or I did coach, a girl’s high school varsity team up until March of this year. (For a little more on the end of that season, and why I coach, check out my blog from Feb. 29).
As much as I love coaching, I decided to give it up for two primary reasons. It is an all-consuming commitment. There’s practice planning, conducting practices, studying the strengths and weaknesses of your players, designing drills to address those, scouting other teams, watching video, preparing specific game plans for some games, travel to games…the list could go on. The team I coached played 35 to 36 games every year, traveling across three or four states to do so. We start practice in August and finish the season in March.
It’s great, but it’s long and takes, as I said, all my time outside of work.
My first reason for giving it up was simply to spend more time at home, with my family. I have five kids. Two of them are attending a local community college and will be transferring to four-year schools after this upcoming school year. This is my last chance to be at home with them (although, to be honest, they both work, they go to school, they have boyfriends – there still isn’t all that much family time at home with them).
The second reason was more time for writing. This summer I’ve edited and revised and prepared a novel for publication, I’ve collected a novella and some of my short stories for two upcoming collections to be released (some are original stories, some reprints), and I’m about a third of the way through a new novel.
None of that, most likely, would have happened if I were still involved with basketball.
So what’s the problem?
I opened my e-mail yesterday and there was a little note from a coaching buddy of mine. He started up a girls homeschool basketball program two years ago and, quite frankly, has done a remarkable job growing from a start-up to a fairly competitive program in just two seasons.
Now, the parents want to start a boys program, with a junior varsity team this year. He asked if I’d be interested in helping to get it up and running and to serve as the coach.
I was just thinking a couple of days ago about how it’s nearly August, and how much I miss the preparation work I’m usually doing at this point for the first practices, but also how much I’m enjoying the freedom from that time commitment.
If you followed the link I supplied earlier in this blog, you know a little bit about my coaching. I coach because I love the game of basketball, and I’m far too old to try playing competitively. I coach because I get great satisfaction from working with kids, watching them struggle and work and then suddenly get it, master some skill, understand the offense, figure out how to play defense. It’s amazing to watch -- sometimes you can literally see their face light up with excitement.
That’s usually just the beginning. They grow more confident, on and off the court, become a stronger, more self-assured person. I’ve had a handful go on to play some college ball.
I enjoy the competitive aspect of coaching. The chess game, matching wits with another coach. The feeling after a close, hard-fought game (elation with a win, disappointment at a loss). I’m not above bragging a bit here – in three seasons we won 72 games, we went to two state title games, winning one and nearly pulling of a major upset in the other. There’s a camaraderie between coaches, between coaches and officials, coaches and players, that can’t be matched anywhere else.
All of those are reasons I so much enjoy coaching. And, honestly, miss it already.
Yet that is a chapter I had closed, at least for now. I had moved on. Or so I thought.
Anyway, I’m going to give it serious consideration. It is a junior varsity, after all. Not as much practice, not as many games, no late-night video sessions to scout the other teams, not quite as much time, right?
For now, maybe in writing this I’ve gotten basketball out of my mind for a few hours. Time to focus on writing.
If I can.