Basketball is a passion of mine.
But, it wasn’t always the case. I hated the sport when I was younger. That is until I met Dale Spitler, my eighth grade basketball coach.
“Spit” demonstrated a bonafide interest in me as soon as I caught his eye. My tall frame intrigued him and he began to recruit me to play for the 8th grade basketball team (I didn’t play in 7th grade – it wasn’t something that interested me).
He invested a ton of time into me. He even created a unique identity in me: The Big Shu. The name stuck.
Basketball is a game of nicknames. Shaq. The Answer. Dr. J. The Ice Man. The Microwave. The list goes on.
My basketball coaches in high school always called me Jimmy (I always went by Jim – but for some reason I was Jimmy to them). But there’s a group of men in Southwestern Ohio who I regularly played pick-up ball with who knew me exclusively as Big Shu or simply Shu.
I owe a lot more than my nickname to my old coach. He helped me develop as a responsible man. I am forever grateful to him.
I doubt if I would be the same person I am now if I weren’t Big Shu in my earlier life.
Extracurricular activities are actually extra classroom experiences for a school to perform its educational mission of developing citizens. And … I think of coaches as simply teachers with alternative classrooms.
Good coaches have an opportunity to make an enormous impact on their athletes’ lives. I am a living proof of that being true.