Chuck.

Back in junior high, I decided to try my hand at organized basketball. It was the sport that I grew up around. The Dream Team was big at the time, and everyone in my neighborhood of us would go to the local park for a pick-up game where we would pretend to be one of the members. In my eighth-grade year, I was excited to try out for the junior high varsity squad.

This was going to be my year!

During tryouts, I would hustle for every loose ball, grab every rebound with authority, and make every type of impossible layup that I could to impress the coach. When tryouts were over. The coach said that he would deliberate and paste a list on the locker room floor. I left out of there feeling like I conquered the world — of course I made it!
Until hours later, when I, along with another friend and teammate were summoned into the head coaches’ office:
“Well, I am going to come right out and say it, you two are at the bottom of the varsity list, so I will give you a choice. You either can choose to be on varsity squad were you may not play very much — if at all, or you can play junior varsity as an 8th grader, where you will most likely start. I will give you a day to think about it.”

Both of us looked at each other and said in unison,
“Nope. We don’t need a day, We’ll play junior varsity.”
Truthfully, we did not give a shit which team we played on, we just wanted to play basketball.

Towards the middle of the season, I started noticing a guy sitting awkwardly in the bleachers after halftime of each home game. He would sit with his back on the above bleachers with his elbows pulled up, chest level rested on them — like he was sitting in a Laz-E-Boy. He was lightly swinging a bottle of Diet Coke in one hand, his legs were crossed, and he was wearing a red and light blue jumpsuit. The expression on his face was as if he did not have a care in the world.

Who in the Hell is this joker?!
Whose dad is this?

Each home game, I would often make jokes about the awkward, guy white-haired guy who sat mid-bleacher.

Until one day, one of the varsity players overheard me.

“Dude, that is Chuck White. That is the head coach of the East Anchorage Thunderbirds!”

I will take this time to add context —

The East Anchorage Thunderbirds are a storied team coached by a legend. They literally were the “New York Yankees of Alaska” — everyone loved to hate us. We are talking about a team that not only won the basketball boys state championship almost every year but also had players going to play college ball somewhere in the country. As far as anyone in our school was concerned, making a Thunderbird roster was making it out of any kind of negative environment that you were in.

2015-12-29 20.46.32
I loved my years of high school basketball.

And so, I found my mission: play junior varsity this year, impress the coach with my play while I had him in the audience during the second half, and make a Thunderbird roster when I got to high school.

And, wouldn’t you know it, my sophomore year, I, along with four others made the team.

Let me be clear, there were significant benefits to making the varsity team. You received:

  • A practice jersey with shorts,
  • Travel sweats with your jersey number,
  • A travel jacket and pants embroidered with your name and number (the same red and blue ones that I would see him wear when in junior high), and,
  • Team shoes. Yup. As a sophomore, I had arrived.

What I did not realize was, making the team would be the easiest part of this journey. In the three years that I was on the squad, Coach White would continue to teach me lessons that I would carry with me for the rest of my life.

  1. Although you are small, you can still be mighty: I have no idea what Coach saw in me when he decided to put me on varsity sophomore year. I couldn’t shoot well, my free throw percentage was garbage, and at 5’11”, I played post — where everyone else was 6’2″ and up. Years later when I asked coached why he chose me, he said, “Just because you aren’t six-foot-five does not mean you can’t play like you are six-foot-five.”
  2. Coach them hard, love them harder: A majority of the tactics employed by coach would not be accepted by parents today. He expected a lot from you both on, and off, of the court. If you were not able to perform, keep promises, or take care of responsibilities, he did not have time for you. Being part of his team meant playing your part a system that required maximum time and effort; not everybody was cut out for that system. But if you stayed around long enough, you knew that you were part of a brotherhood – something that was bigger than you.
  3. A measure of a man is not by how much he uses profanity: Although this is true, I do use a lot of profanity still (Sorry, Chuck). Many would watch this man become splittingly mad (seriously, splittingly). But he would never curse. He would stomp his foot or hit his chair, exclaiming, “GOD BLESS IT!” But cursing was beneath him.
    54DDB7FD-764B-4595-8AF2-7B7B3C1D45F2_4_5005_c
    He was a fierce competitor as a coach. He yelled but never cursed.
  4. Although people are not perfect. It does not mean that you cannot expect it from your athletes. He would always say. “I know we can’t be perfect all of the time, but we can darn sure work towards it.” Coach paid attention to every detail, which is why his teams would execute every offensive and defensive play with precision.
  5. If your athletes make mistakes, it is the coach’s lack of preparation: Coach did not take too kindly to losing; we barely ever did. But he knew that when we did lose, we were not prepared physically, or mentally. So he did everything he could to help us get another victory.
  6. The “Our Father” prayer: He was careful to never participate with us. But he knew how important prayer was. So, every game, he would give us our pre-game talk, then quickly leave so that we had our moment of prayer.
  7. Not to give a damn what other people thought: I have never seen a person who was hated, but loved; respected, yet revered; accepted, but feared. I thought those things could not go together. But they can. And truth be told, I don’t think he gave one damn who was on what side. I watched him chew a ref out, get kicked out of a game, then joke around with the same referee 15 minutes after the game had ended. He never took it personally.
  8. Fake Hustle. This is something that he would yell constantly. (the other thing he would do – call you by your mother’s name while your mother sat behind you, laughing).
  9. Every tough guy has a soft spot: East High teams were known for their defensive schemes. You had to be able to interpret a crazy numbering system he had and be able to carry out any directives to perfection. This system, when done correctly, made our team one of the most feared in the state. This meant that players had to be in their top physical condition in order to keep up with these demands.We ran.A lot.And after we ran, we ran some more.
  10. But there was a way out of running — his daughter showing up to practice. We had finally found his kryptonite. She was the same age as I and would often go to the practices waiting for her father. When she did, he got a big smile on his face and eased up on the crushers. During classes, we would often beg her to show up at the end — before conditioning, of course.
  11. It doesn’t matter if the other team knows your plays, winning is about execution: Anyone who has played for or against a Coach White team knows the plays 2 High (or 4 High), 4 Low, Kentucky, Open and Basic (there were a few others, but it really didn’t deviate from there). So why did they work? How was he so successful? Because there was a lot of autonomy in those plays. There was always an option B, C, and D if A did not work. He played chess while the opposing coach played checkers.

I could go on and on with the lessons both big and small that I learned from Coach White. But, I was not the only athlete that had the privilege to be under his care. Upon his passing, hundreds of men gave testimony to his caring, nurturing, and tough-as-nails discipline. His 914 wins, 18 state titles, and 81 percent winning average pails in comparison to the impact that he left on so many young men. He gave 45 years of coaching and mentorship to a community that so desperately needed it; his wife gave a piece of her husband and gained many sons; his daughter and son gave a piece of their father and gained many brothers. Learning of his death was a sad day for many. A pivotal figure in our lives went to heaven. What a gift he gave us all. Rest in paradise, Coach. We love you.

2019-11-25 15.19.30
You could hear that laugh from a mile away.

#tbirds

#eagles

#family

Allow Me to Introduce Myself…

If you grow up in my neighborhood, you have already practiced overcoming adversity. You were supposed to be some kind of negative statistic. You were told from a young age that you would be dead, on drugs, or in Cook Inlet Correctional by the time you were eighteen. Not by people who actually live in your neighborhood, but by those who claim that their data is an accurate predictor of outcomes.

If you grow up in my neighborhood, it is not problem when your college advisor refuses to give you a letter of recommendation so you can move on with your studies; you weren’t supposed to be there anyway, now were you? But you don’t fret. You persevere. You find another way – because that is what your hood trained you to do. And one day, it will pain her to have to shake your hand.

If you grow up in my hood, you are not afraid to stick up for your rights, question authority, or choose another path to success. You’ve witnessed good people get lead astray everyday, dreams deferred, futures crushed. Why would you blindly trust someone to steer the wheel to your future? You’re not going out like that. So, when your boss threatens to cut your pay or take your job if you don’t agree to his illegal terms, you don’t bat an eye. Instead – you say, “I guess I’ll see you in court.” You watch as the papers are delivered.

If you grow up in my hood, you don’t mind when you got overlooked for opportunities… when those way less qualified than you are placed ahead of you… when you are told that you are too, “Rough around the edges.” You get pissed, but you don’t lash out. You save that anger. You don’t make excuses. You say to yourself, “I will make them all sorry they did not choose me!” And you try harder — you do better. You win awards, you acquire accolades. And when you see those people next, you make them have no other choice but to respect you. They will ask “Why did you leave?” And you politely smile.

If you grow up in my hood, you hate the words, “Well that’s how it has always been.” It only means that there is going to be a door closed in your face or an opportunity that you won’t recieve because of established norms or customs that you didn’t have shit to do with. You do everything in your power to change the establishment. You don’t depend on others to do it. You don’t wait your time. You don’t use the proper procedures. You need this to happen now and you will be seen and heard! You already know how short life is and your time is now. Damn kid — maybe you are rough around the edges.

If you grow up in my hood, you are able to adapt to any situation and assimilate to any population. It does not matter who it is or what they stand for — you have grown up in one of the most diverse places in the United States and attended the most diverse schools in the United States. You have muliple dialects and an expansive vocabulary. When needed, you can choose to be prim, proper and articulate; or you can be just one of the homies. You have it all, and people are impressed by you — “you’re so “cultured.”‘

If you grow up in my hood, you walk with your head high. Some will mistake it for cockiness, but you’re not cocky. Cocky is for those who speak a good game – you let your actions speak. You say what you mean and you mean what you say. You don’t mince words and you fear no one.

If you grow up in my hood, you know loyalty when you see it. You live by it. You could have taken the more pleasurable route. You could have transferred to a better high school; you could have gone to a bigger college somewhere else; you could have transferred at the end of your freshman year after going 0-10. You’re no quitter. If you commit to something, then, dammit, it is going to be completed come Hell or high water. You’ll blaze your own path. You’ll take the unbeaten. What the Hell do you have to lose?

If you grow up in my hood, you were destined for greatness and respect. You were built to lead. You were made you rewrite history books. Damn what other people say, you’ve been mislabeled, marginalized, and undervalued your entire life. Seems like you came out okay.

I’m from The View.

But you knew that already, didn’t you?

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

Tips for Stuffs

Tips for many aspects of living

Debatably Dateable

But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for

Marriage

How to organize an unbelievable marriage

Child Care

tips , tricks , free plr articles

Education PLR

tips , tricks , free plr articles

Chronicles of Walter

Growing Up and Enjoying Life

Parenting Today dot ga

tips , tricks , free plr articles

Family PLR

tips , tricks , free plr articles

Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

Commentary about those things I find interesting.

%d bloggers like this: