Competition is the breeding ground for great relationships and learning life lessons. If you have played sports, you understand how as the late great Howard Cosell said "sports is a microcosm of life." "The SportMentor" is built on the foundation of competition and sports as a way mentor and invest in people. One of the craziest ways that I have used in mentoring has been the infamous 100 point game. It's a simple game of 1v1 basketball to 100 by 2's and 3's. but the lessons it teaches goes well beyond the game. The 100 is all about both players pushing themselves to their limits. It sets the stage for them to push each other off the court to become all they're meant to be! You're probably wondering how that is. Well I could tell you, but I think it would be better explained by one of my friends who I have been mentoring for the last 9 years. Here is his take on why the 100 is about more than the game.
My name is Sam Hanson and I’ve been playing basketball and growing with Jay since winter of 2010. When Jay and I first met, I had just started playing high school basketball for fun. At the local fitness center, Xsport Fitness, Jay was an all time fun teammate. I just had to drive to the basket, rebound, fake a pass, or do anything to catch him free at the three point line. Then just kick out to him and watch the threes sink. Or I could give him the ball in the post and let him go to work. But, Jay wanted to play one on one, and I had to accept the challenge. Even after I found out he wanted to play to 100, I figured it’s unorthodox, but I’ll go for it. As we started battling through these long and exhausting games, basketball opened up to me as more than just a sport. Jay taught me that playing basketball can be a way for me to strengthen my brain, enrich my motivation, and explore my creativity. Battling Jay has helped me develop not only in the sport of basketball, but given me the resilience and confidence to rise to all challenges that I may encounter.
When you play one on one, all of your moves get put on the table. By halfway through the first game, I knew how Jay played, and he knew how I played. You get forced into improvisation. I had to create on the fly and try things that may or may not have worked out. Not only is constant adaptation crucial to succeeding in basketball, but it’s a universal cornerstone of success. Creating new shots or revamping old moves flexes your muscles and your brain in brand new ways, this is where progress happens. Our battles to 100 over the years is the main reason why I developed a game-ready offhand layup, a quicker releasing three pointer, and a legitimate pump fake, among other moves. The three pointer was a particularly hard lesson to learn. When we started playing, I was a freshman in high school with a slow shot. Jay blocked me constantly, even when I was creating some space away from those dang long arms! I had to speed up my release. The frustration and failure that I went through forced my improvement, like sharpening iron.
Our long battles also taught me another painful lesson. You can’t take plays off, and you have to fight for the long game. That means have a strong foundation! Keep your legs and your heart in it, through the setbacks and missed opportunities; the next play is already about to start. There were many plays when I got tired, and shot lazy short range jumpers that I’m capable of making every time when focused. Ball bounced off the back of the rim, Jay snagged it, ran to the corner, and sunk a three. What could’ve been two points for me ends up being a five point swing the other way. You have to take the energy and focus to shoot every shot just how you trained, because a couple of those momentum swings can have you out of the game early. I’m grateful that Jay taught this to me at an early age. Our time spent together really fostered my mental as well as physical endurance, as taking plays off basically meant conceding the game.
Personally, Jay has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I’ve ever met. He just cares about people, always checking in and seeing how things are going. He’s always looking to learn from and teach people, from those that he just met to lifelong friends. Jay’s support and guidance has helped me grow so much and I’ll always be grateful of the games that we played and the talks that we had. Jay has been a strong mentor for me as I grew as a basketball player and as a person, through every sense of what a mentor does: pushing me further past my comfort zone, helping keep my chin up through adversity, and being a friend that I can rely on and entrust in. If you get the chance to work with Jay, take it: not only will his three point shooting be incredibly frustrating to contest, but his mentorship will ensure your growth in basketball and whatever else you set your sights on
It has been a great joy to walk with Sam over the last 9 years watching him grow from a high school athlete into a solid productive young man who has graduated college and who knows how to think through life and overcome anything. Many of those lessons came through the time that we spent together. Whether we were playing the 100 or doing other things off the court, what we learned through playing the game served as the foundation for a mentoring relationship that has stood the test of time.
The game teaches us how to think through something that seems impossible to do on the surface, but as you play the game out, you discover what it takes to compete not only in the game but in life. What you discover.... is that there is a process to achieving the goal. But the goal isn't what you think it is. Let me explain.
I recently heard a professional athlete make a statement after a win, that wins and losses are simply the results of how you play. The true goal of competition goes beyond winning and losing, it is all about becoming better at the game you play. You compete for every point, using the skills that you have learned. You have to take things a point at a time, making sure you do what you know in the face of someone else attempting to stop you. Focusing on the result can cause you to miss the very things that can help you to not only win the game you are in, but the many more that are to come. Each play is an opportunity to learn something. For Sam, he was aware of what he was learning as we engaged in each game and learned the lessons as they came. He could see how they translated to the game called life. This is what has carried him through high school and college and will serve him well in life.
For Sam and I, it has been a relationship where the bond that we created through playing the game we both love has set the stage for us to grow together as men. It lead us to long talks about life. Those talks happened not only after each game, but as our relationship grew, it provided us many opportunities to do life together outside of it. SportMentor has always been about learning life's greatest lessons through relationships rooted in sports. It's all about learning how to succeed in life beyond playing the game. The 100 is just one way that we open up the pathway towards becoming #bettertogether.
Stay Forever Strong!!