Monday, April 13, 2009


I wonder if this resonates with you:

I showed up last week at my daughter's basketball league, where I expected to sit quietly on the sidelines watching her try out for the team in the youth league, and when she wasn't playing, trim a minute or two out of my sermon for the next day.

However, on arrival, I was given a clipboard and told that I was a coach of one of the teams! I recall answering an email from The Authoress who asked if I was interested in coaching, but replying by saying no, I didn't think I could this year with all the transitions but would try to help out next year. The matron of the league, a friendly and quite bold ruler of the fiefdom that is Yorkville Basketball, took the mere expression of possible interest as a definite commitment.

In the UK, this is called being nobbled. It has the sense of being won over to another side, or of being kidnapped, but usually both senses of the word are in play simultaneously. The American equivalent is to be "roped in".

So, having coached girls crew in the past, I now found myself scouting players with the assessing eyes of parents upon me, who wondered if they would be happy to have their daughters on my team. Fortunately, the mercy of the other coaches landed me with the equivalent of the first draft pick, a girl who scored half of our points in the first game (a victory). I initially resented being nobbled, and part of me still feels that resentment. But I also am coaching, something that another part of me looks forward to doing.

On balance, do you like being nobbled, or does the resentment overwhelm the good thing you've been called upon to do. This is something I am very careful of as a clergyman, trying to give people the opportunity to say "no" but still needing to put requests out there.

If you are a praying person, please do keep my two older daughters on your rota as the level of competition is pretty intense, and they are just learning the rules of the game. Being tall only goes so far, and we'll need some grace all around!



T4s said...

of all the things to be 'nobled' into, coaching doesn't seem half bad. tell'em the outcome of the game doesn't matter as long as they play to win.

this could be the start of something very interesting.


Jen Wotochek said...

Cliff--I played basketball from age 11-14, so I know the pressure! I'll definitely be praying for the girls. And you!

As for being nobbled: hate it. : )

Jen Wotochek

Clifford Swartz said...

Thanks for the tips and encouragement, friends! I'll let you know when the championship game comes along...

Martin T said...

Being nobbled is dreadful. If I get my arm twisted into doing something, there's always going to be some resentment even if it's something I want to do.

That said, coaching can be a ton of fun and might even be a good outreach opportunity, provided you can stomach it. I'll be praying!

Martin T.

Clifford Swartz said...

We were crushed today. And my coaching didn't help...

But my girls had good games, going from zero knowledge of basketball to a tiny bit. And having had some fun.