by Ryan Krzykowski

It’s looking like this will be the final CFC blog post of the 2020 summer break.  In many ways, good riddance summer of 2020.  Yuck.  At the same time, this summer has provided unprecedented opportunities.  We’ve never really had Coaching Life Groups meet over the summer before — and while I’m not a fan of the circumstances that brought us here, the groups themselves have been outstanding.  If not for the summer Coaching Life Group comprised of coaches from Olathe Northwest HS, I would have likely never heard this story which serves as a reminder that we might never know the impact of something we say to a young athlete.

Our good friend Joel Branstrom coaches basketball at ONW, and he shared a story about the words of a coach and the power they had in his life.  Although he grew up in Northern California, at age 15 Joel traveled to Lawrence to attend KU Basketball Camp.  He badly wanted to play for the Jayhawks one day, and so attending camp and doing drills in Allen Fieldhouse was a dream come true.   As with many camps, some of the drills were more enjoyable than others.  At one point the campers were instructed to practice their shooting form over and over without a ball.  This might be a great drill, but it’s not going to keep a group of children engaged for very long.  Predictably, after a couple minutes, most of the shooters began losing interest or goofing around.  Not 15-year old Joel.  He was determined to get everything there was to get out of his camp experience, and so he kept on giving it everything he had.  And then it happened.  One of the assistant coaches noticed his focused effort, walked over and said, “You want to be a Jayhawk one day, don’t you?”  Although it might not have meant much to the coach who said those words, they penetrated straight to Joel’s heart.

Years later, Joel’s dream came true as he joined the KU Basketball program and had a chance to learn from an outstanding mentor in Roy Williams.  These days, Joel is blessed with the opportunity to impact the lives of young people, and his experience at camp and those prophetic words about becoming a Jayhawk someday provide a great example of the importance of learning to choose our words well.  We just never know when a comment, positive or negative, might be one that sticks with a person for the rest of their life.  It’s even possible that a comment we make could inspire someone in a way that impacts lives for generations or ripples out into eternity.

Let’s Coach With Purpose…