Saturday, February 22, 2014

Basketball Update

We are right in the middle of Ashley's 8th grade basketball season. As many know, I am a firm believer in finding and developing the unique talents of each player on any youth team. Each team brings a variety of talent, skills and spirit. Any coach can put her top players on the court and win a lot of games. It takes a skillful coach to play all of her players and win games. Now don't get me wrong, I have a very competitive group of girls and we play to win. We play as a team. I do not play my girls equally. But, all of my players have the opportunity to earn playing time.

Playing time is earned based on 4 factors:

1) Respect - for officials and refs, opposing teams, coaches, and each other. Negative comments about any team member are not tolerated.

2) Attendance at practice

3) Attitude and effort at practices and games

4) Performance on the court

Now this year, I have very little issues with respect, attendance, attitude and effort. So everyone earns a lot of playing time. Our league requires a minimum playing time of 4 minutes for every player in each game. We play 6 minute quarters so 4 minutes out of a total of 24 is not very much. My goal has always been to double the minimum playing time as long as it is being earned. This year I have exceeded that goal partly because I have two less players and because I have a very dedicated group of girls.

Some parents think that the top players should be playing all the time and the others should be benched. I literally had a parent email me telling me that I should bench certain girls. I had another parent tell me that if I didn't play my team this way, I wouldn't be doing my job as a coach and my team would not be successful. I understand competition is tight at the high school level, but I believe middle school should be a time to focus on fundamentals, teamwork and the love of the game. Why write off a player at such a young age? Give them a chance to learn and improve and they just might surprise you.

Having obtained this head coach position 2 seasons ago by default (I was the assistant when the original head coach had to resign), I had no idea how successful my team would be given my coaching philosophy. I chose to not let the opinions of others sway me and I have stuck to my method.

So far this season we have won 2nd place in our first tournament and we currently have a 3 and 1 record. We are tied in second place in league standings. We are winning as a team, losing a couple games as a team and, most importantly, playing as a team. All players are developing their skills, (as opposed to a select few), having fun and love the game. Isn't that what middle school sports are all about?

Go Wildcats!


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Emery Update

All is finally well with Miss Emery.  It was a long 6 weeks.  She has never had a set back that has lasted more than 1 to 2 weeks.  So this time period has been disheartening to say the least.  The root of her problem:  fluid in her ears.  Yes, fluid.  I don't even think the school transition played that large of a part in her set back.  I am kicking myself for not taking her to the doctor sooner.  So the story goes...

At the beginning of last week, Emery was still hitting herself, not feeding herself and completely distressed.  After talking with her therapist, we thought it might be a good idea to try to have an MRI of her brain taken.  Nobody knew for sure what was causing her distress or when it might end.  We had talked in the past about the MRI, but always decided to wait to see how she does with therapy.  Since we have very little information regarding her birth and it was an unmonitored pregnancy, we decided the MRI might give us a better picture of what is going on with our Emery.  If nothing else, it could potentially rule some things out. 

So with an MRI in mind, I called her pediatrician.  Since she was not sick, the pediatrician could not see her until April 4th!  All I could think of was Emery suffering for another 6 or 7 weeks.  That was not going to work.  At this time, Emery had been doing a weird little head shake about 5 or 6 times an hour.  It was a quick little shake, but she had started doing it about 4 or 5 days prior to me calling the doctor.  I mentioned it to her therapist.  Her therapist thought it could be slight seizures (scary) or maybe fluid in her ears.  I called the doctor back the next day with this latest observation and was able to get her in right away. 

The diagnosis:  Fluid in her ears.  The doctor said she could have had ear infections, which could have taken 6 weeks to clear up on their own.  After the clear up, fluid is common.  Ugh!  My poor little Emi.  I told the doctor I kept checking her temp during this set back and never once did she have a fever.  The doctor said some kids do not get fevers when they have an infection.  Apparently, Emery is one of those kids.  Hard lesson learned for me.  The next time Emery starts acting out of sorts, she is going to the doctor immediately.  It just happened the same week she switched schools and with no fever, I assumed her issues were related to the transition. 

So, to clear up the fluid, the doctor told me to give her Benadryl 3 times per day for 5 days.  At which time she would come back in for a follow up appointment.  By the time the 5 days were up, I could already see some improvement in her behavior.  The doctor confirmed that the fluid was basically gone, suggested keeping her on the Benadryl for 3 more days to be safe, and decided an MRI was probably not necessary. 

As of today, 4 days after her follow up, Miss Emery is 100 percent back to normal.  Excited to go to her new school and to therapy.  I had completely forgotten that prior to this lengthy set back, we were discussing a new discipline method for Emi.  She had been getting a little out of hand and doing a time-in in her favorite rocking chair was no longer very effective.  Well, back to normal also means that she has been a complete stinker for the past couple of days.  I am so grateful to have my happy, giggly, mischievous little girl back.  But, we will still be implementing a new discipline method!  Sorry Emery, no more getting a way with everything just because we missed you!

The Vandermeulen household is finally back on track.  Deep breath and sigh of relief.