A TEAM LIKE NO OTHER!!!
By Coach Shawn Cheatham
On Valentine’s Day 2019, the New Windsor Recreation closed out another season for the Winter Basketball league (12-14 year old division). This season was unlike any other because Team Gray had mostly all beginner level players. The other team (Blue) had mostly experienced players and a coaching style not affording to the novice player with fair playing time. Low turnout caused a two team season, where they met each other every Thursdays at the Stewart Gym. Day one looked promising with a female player for Team Gray, as she shocked the crowd with her well advanced skills at the guard position. As coach for this team, I was ready to have her skills better her teammates while expanding on her style of play. Unfortunately, we lost her for the remainder of the season due to personal conflicts and injury. This created a challenge to my coaching style because we didn’t have a ball handler at the guard position. So, we went to a swing and spread the floor style of play to get the ball up the court to increase our offensive chances. That strategy didn’t work well because these players insisted on learning how to dribble and score like a point guard. So through trial and error, they learned how to control the ball and trust their dribble. We also had to conquer how to be good defensively. It wasn’t until the energy of team captain Joseph Garcia that inspired his teammates desire to win and play hard that things came together. Yes they fought hard because each week we witnessed them get better and better. Progression that was faster than we all expected, as they even amazed themselves at times. The true test for Team Gray was when the league mid-season wanted to mix the players up to create a better balance between the teams. As coach, I asked them how they felt about the idea? They all at the same time screamed “NO” during the end of the third quarter of the game that should have been its last of the imbalance. Not sure if it was the quality playing time or the brotherhood they formed or both, but I knew then I had to teach them how to foster the winning spirit. In addition, the league sustained the fundamentally teachings about organized basketball to ensure their future success in the sport. They were required to play without looking at the scoreboard because it wasn’t reflective to how they really played. It wasn’t until this last game, the Valentine’s Day game that turned out to be the very impressive and tear dropping game. Unfortunately, we exited the game without the win, but the standing ovation from all parents and spectators assembled would lead you to believe otherwise. These young men did themselves proud and left it on the floor in basketball terms. They are class acts and played with heart, along with respect and sportsmanship. Not to take away from Team Blue because they were class acts as well, but everyone knew the long shot Gray if given one more game – may win it. The final score was 48-38, which was a 20+ point difference from previous games. A season we will all remember throughout time because they left the court winners in a winless season. They’ve earned respect from everyone and made their coach very proud!
Caption: Team in Photo: (Photo provided)
(top l-r) Markell Holder, John O’Sullivan, Joseph Garcia, Justin Harding, Shawn Cheatham Jr, Coach Shawn Cheatham (bottom l-r) Matthew Lavigne, Zachary Barrese, Michael Filippini (not in photo) Anton Le Truong, Ezra Boria-Brannigan, A’Mya Brock