Do more than live; experience life

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Getting through life seems to get in the way of experiencing life sometimes, and that is not ok. Too often I find myself “doing” and not necessarily “experiencing.” I know that it’s a problem that can affect almost anyone, but in the results-driven and highly watched world of sports it’s easy for days, weeks, and even years to go by before you remember to experience them. The older I have gotten, the more I have tried to appreciate and experience my day-to-day; however, aging also comes with increased responsibilities.

Between a busy basketball coaching schedule and four kids under the age of 9 I have a lot going on and if there’s ever been a time in which I have an excuse to just get through the day it would be now.

But, as the need for me to be more active than ever has increased, what I have realized is that now, more than ever, I need to take a step back and watch. That doesn’t mean let life pass by; in fact, quite the opposite. It’s all the more important that I am aware of those ways I have grown and observe what I need to do better.

My children have driven home this truth recently. My 4-and-a-half-year-old (don’t call her 4) was riding with me the other day and hit me with several “did you know” facts.

She covered sports, politics, cinema and history. I was amazed with the conversation I was having with my little girl. I asked her how she knew all of these things.

She explained that she had heard my wife and I talking about some of the topics or heard things on the radio while we were driving.

(So now, in addition to being shocked at all my daughter knew, I was also jolted (and a little scared) to remember how much kids pick up simply by experiencing.)

I’ll admit I have had moments like Ralphie and his dad had in “A Christmas Story”. Ralphie knocks the bolts out of the hubcap and yells “FFFUUUUUDGE!” while changing a tire. Ralphie blames his friend Schwartz as the culprit who taught him the bad word. In actuality it was Ralphie’s father.

My young team continues to teach me and this time it reminded me how important it is to observe and absorb your surroundings – to learn by experiencing.

As a parent, coach, and adult it shows me that I need to have that same awareness. I need to live and experience every moment in what I am doing. If I don’t, it could become a huge detriment to my team, both on the court and at home.

Teams I have coached that have won championships have been made up mostly of upperclassman. But, the value of their being upperclassmen was not just that they were older and more developed. They had gone through a lot individually and as a unit LEARNING from experience wins championships.

But, to gain knowledge from experience, you need to do more than just go through the motions- you need to own it. A team can learn from a one-point loss. It can learn from how it held onto a 15-point lead.

And it is as important to observe yourself and be self-aware of what you yourself are experiencing as to make certain your team is learning from its experiences. It’s how you can grow and thrive … and it’s also more enjoyable.

Brian Barone played basketball at Texas A&M University and Marquette University and holds a master’s degree in communications. He now coaches men’s basketball at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

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