Saturday, January 19, 2013

Miner Webster

*This post is more for me to write down what I want to remember than to have others gain anything from it- but read if you like
In honor of coach Miner Webster's 700th win, I reflect on 3 things he did I will never forget.

His Ability to Make High School Ball a Life Lesson
I was never a star basketball player (except in jr. high- those were my glory days).  However, I always worked hard to try and be the best.  I had a weird jump shot that I'd adjust from time to time.  I started out as a point guard and by my sophomore/junior year I was a guard.  I wasn't on the starting line up all the time but I always got some playing time.  I was hit or miss when it came to pressure situations.  I had this thing against Dobson; every time we played them I'd choke and play my worst game ever.  After one particularly bad Dobson game I was so mad I didn't even want to show up for practice.  But I did, and shot free throws quietly by myself before practice started.  Webster came up to me and I almost immediately had to hold tears back.  You have to know that Webster wasn't a buddy-buddy talk all the time coach.  If he took you aside, it was because something needed to be said.  He asked me what I did best for the team (it was my senior year and my basketball skills seemed to be getting worse with time, although I was a co-captain).  I didn't know what to say, so I said passing the ball because then I didn't have the ball so much.  He laughed a little and told me that I wasn't on the team because of my skills.  I was there because I was a leader.  And being a leader wasn't about having the best skills or scoring all the points, it was about working hard, setting a good example, and cheering when I was on the bench.  This may have been just a pep talk but it was a bigger deal to me.  My self-esteem was on a negative scale and Webster not only brought it back up but also taught me a valuable life lesson.  We're always trying to be the best this or the best of that when actually being the "best" isn't always what it's about. 

His Temper
Webster has a pretty quick temper when his expectations are not met.  However, he usually displays his anger in 3 ways. 
1. Red face
2. Pacing
3. Saying phrases such as "Holy Mackerel" or "Gee Golly" while shaking his head
After 4 years of playing basketball for this man, I can only recall two occasions when his anger got the best of him.
One game, we played against Mountain Ridge (I'm actually not sure if that was the exact team name but it's a good guess because half of the high school teams in AZ have the word mountain or ridge in their title).  They were a less skilled team so we should have been killing them but at halftime, we were only up by 10.  We all knew we were in trouble sitting in the locker room.  He came in, pacing back and forth with his red face, and out of nowhere kicked the water bottle holder and it shattered sending little pieces of plastic flying towards me and the bench I was sitting on. 
 Another time, at a tournament in Vegas he was talking to us after the game and slammed his clipboard on the floor (we were all sitting on the floor and he was squatting so the clipboard was only about a foot off the ground) but it broke.
On both occasions he apologized for his behavior afterwords.  I always found it funny that he was this way.  A legendary coach apologizing for getting mad.  I don't know, the way he handled himself was in a way that told us it wasn't us as people he was angry with, it was that we weren't fulfilling our potential.

His Expectation for Excellence
Everyone who has played for Webster knows what P.R.I.D.E. stands for because we said it as a team after every single practice- no exceptions.
Re-read that over until it hits.  Perfection requires intense daily effort.  That's what Miner expected on and off the court and made it clear by setting standards.  I played that 2005-2006 season.  The one that had 10 losses, the most losses he's ever had in a season.  We had a lot of talent that year and with that talent was a lot of drama.  That year probably made him want to quit and move somewhere he'd never have to interact with a high school girl again.  But he did his best, trying a variety of different tactics (making us run practice on our own since we weren't listening to him, taking us to the movie Glory Road to teach us how to unite).  Sometimes, it meant sitting the more talented players and letting the other players show their potential.  I remember the disappointment throughout that whole season.  I don't think Webster ever gave up.  He kept trying to turn it around and make us see that we were better than what we were doing.  Sadly, we didn't live up to his expectations.  But you know, I think it says a lot that regardless of who his next team is, he is always working towards a state championship.  I would rather play for a coach that expects the best and is disappointed than for a coach that expects the worst and is pleased.

So, here's to Miner Webster, for making such a big difference in my life.  People have been asking him for his "secret" for years.  He always says "good kids" or that there isn't one but I think there is one; it's just not complicated.  Expectations, Consistency, and P.R.I.D.E

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