Mind Over Sports

Archive for April 2017

From the internet: “Azarenka, once No. 1, is on an extended break after pregnancy, but she is quietly yet fiercely determined to rise again. She will return with a new coach, the former journeyman pro Michael Joyce, and a new traveling companion in her son, Leo, who was born in December. ‘Yes, I’ll do it for me, because I want to achieve my full potential, but it’s not anymore just for me,’ Azarenka said. ‘I want to have my son be proud of me. I want to give him a good example that if you have a goal and you have a dream, you can achieve it if you work hard.’”

If Victoria’s game holds true to form, she should be great at her game. The past has proven that when female athletes take a break and have a baby, when they return, their game is better than ever. They are happy, and their lives are in harmony.

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If a team is to be successful, the players and their coach must be bonded together and have excellent chemistry. But based on what I’ve observed, that doesn’t seem to be the case with the Missouri State University Men’s Basketball Coach Paul Lusk and his team. I don’t think Coach Lusk honestly knows how to handle his team’s emotions. Or how certain decisions he makes affect team morale. And the result? Good players leave the team.

According to the Springfield News-Leader: “When Missouri State officially announced the departure of juniors Chris Kendrix and Austin Ruder, it was pointed out that both have one season of eligibility remaining and have received their release from the Missouri State program. Kendrix, a 6-foot-5 guard from Willard, was named to the Missouri Valley Conference Most Improved Team as a sophomore, when he averaged nearly 28 minutes and 12.1 points per game. He was suspended for the first game of his junior year (for a violation of team rules) and when he returned, his playing time plummeted. He averaged only 13.7 minutes and 5.4 points per game.”

One could interpret this as an indication that Coach Lusk is somebody who holds a grudge against a player. If not, he would have made sure Chris was put back into the rotation. But he didn’t. Treating Chris the way he did had to impact other players on the team who where close friends of Chris. And it also could have affected how they performed for Coach Lusk. But did the News-Leader dig into the reasons Lusk wasn’t playing Kendrix and write about what was going on behind the scenes? Not at all. And the reason is if they did, and uncovered some negative things, the sports reporter who wrote the story could lose access to the athletic department and to the team coaching staff. And if he loses access, he could lose his job.

When you have a team that doesn’t like its coach, the team is faced with a dilemma. Do you sluff off and not play at your best and hope to lose the game hastening your coach’s departure? Or do you play hard and try to win, knowing every game you win only entrenches the coach’s positon with the fans and the athletic director who is responsible for his hire.

On May 25, 2016, Ben Cannefax’s mother, Rae Ann Cannefax, died of leukemia. Ben, the oldest of five sons, plays baseball for the New Covennt Academy in Springfield, Missouri, and is one of the Academy’s top pitchers. But no one could have predicted what happened next. Ben’s game suddenly became more enhanced and his team began winning games. “I know she’s watching over me,” Cannefax said, and regarding his teammates, “They’re just there. I know that I can come to them about anything.” Because of her death, the team bonded around Ben and team chemistry went through the roof. And that’s when teams win games. New Covenant’s players and coaches paid tribute to Rae Ann Cannefax by writing her name or initials on their caps. And Ben began pitching no-hitters. This is an excellent example of what I often refer to as “Excelling for a Higher Order.” Ben’s memory of his mother has enhanced his performance and created a bonding among his teammates.


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