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Hoop Stories

  • Writer's pictureHannah Ericksen

AAU Coaching: A journey of teaching, sacrifice and joy

There is an natural joy a child feels when participating in sport. It is an intrinsic feeling that brings him or her to the playing field every single time.

Of course, there is always a parent, guardian or mentor that enables the child to attend and embrace what it loved. The reward or payment being the child’s fulfillment, nurturing and ultimately development both in sport and in life. Then there are the people who represent a unique combination of both child and mentor. When one seeks reward it does not have to simply be of a financial nature. It also comes in knowing that there is a legacy being left behind and a joy in knowing that the world can be a better place. In the course of seeking to improvement the quality of others, there also is a child-like happiness that is felt. It resembles the feeling kids on the playing field unknowingly have. As an adult, there is a better appreciation for what it means. Meet the AAU coach. While basketball coaching is big business, even in the AAU industry, most who work with travel squads do so at a cost to his or herself. Why do it? “I started this because I love basketball,” Carolina Elite fourth grade head coach and mentor Roy Smith said. “I don’t get paid for coaching AAU, and I don’t mind because this is what I do. This is a passion of mine. I love it. “ Like the young athlete who is looking to play AAU, the key for a coach is the fit of the program. Each team and program has its ideals. When they match what the child’s parents or guardian seek along with what the type of wisdom the mentor seeks to impart, that is when the collective vision really takes off. “It is really amazing to see the strides that these girls make, learning how to work hard, it is kind of cool to see that because we know that even outside of basketball it is going to have a big impact on their life,” Carolina Elite’s Lyn Adams said after guiding his squad to the title in the Ninth Grade Gold Bracket of the 2018 Mayberry Madness in Mt. Airy, North Carolina over the weekend. If it done right, the journey can extend to off the court and beyond the sporting life. The ball will stop bouncing for everyone at some point but the lessons taught during the formative years are what is carried on and ultimately passed down. That is the impact a positive mentor can have. “I think it is great to teach young ladies to compete and work hard to be great competitors,” Adams said. “When they get to college we hope that they become leaders. We hope that they take that work ethic to the class room and actually become leaders in their community one day. “They can learn a lot through the sport and we are just proud to see them work hard like they do.”

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