MN GBB: The State Tournament 4Us

This is 4U: Unsatisfying, unfair, unfinished, upcoming

The Minnesota Girls Basketball tournament came to a screeching halt on Friday. There are no champions in 2020—-in the conventional sense. Circumstances beyond control have forced unpleasant decisions by folks that have more information than the common ordinary person. This is an unsatisfying result for the teams that were still standing. 4 left in AA and A. No curtain call for Paige Bueckers and the Hopkins Royals. No rematch of DeLaSalle vs. Becker. Hours, years of preparation have suddenly been taken away.

I made my way over to Williams Arena for, what I thought was going to be the A semifinals. Instead, after parking my car in the ramp directly across from WA, I see Minneota coach Johnston and the rest of the Vikings walking away from the facility to the ramp. That is when I realized it was over. I made it to the doors, and everything was already locked down. I was able to get in and walk through the empty hallways. On the court was Allie Arlt, the channel 45 sideline reporter shooting free throws, that was the only basketball action of the day. The MSHSL staff was there communicating via press releases on the tournament cancellation and other cancellations in the upcoming weeks. It was somber. It was eerie, it was surreal. Of course, it was sad. March Sadness deluxe.

The cry from those involved in the tournament is “unfair.” It is easy to see that, understand that, hear that. I am sure many of us in life face “unfair” things life throws at us.  I know I have had my share. How we respond to these situations is the test.

We have unfinished business. We have no closure. The expected finish line does not exist. Think of Schubert’s unfinished symphony, or the ending of the Soprano’s—-fade to black. What just happened? How will we know? We don’t. Players, coaches, teams were robbed of that moment. The natural venting in these circumstances are quite natural. This can not be restored. We, as human beings, take a lot for granted. We have trajectories, rhythms that we expect life to follow. Life zigs and zags. This was a zag. A major zag that is a drag. The final chapter is missing.

This leads us to the upcoming. The chapters that are yet to be written. The professional medical people estimate as high as 1.7 million deaths from this disease. That is conjecture and speculation. It may be too high (I hope) but they have the models and they are the experts in their field. We are only in the beginning of this. I will reemphasize beginning. Club ball is supposed to start Sunday. I am sure some will start despite the stoppages elsewhere. I expect that in the next eight weeks things are going to get worse. Much worse. I expect that the April viewing windows will be slammed shut. I expect that the April/May spring tournaments will not happen. I think July will be OK. More unfairness.

I will close with things that are important. Many people may recalibrate their life after the crisis passes. If you don’t know, I coach the third team (sophs/B) at Stillwater. We finished 15-3 this past year. I also do a lot of reading. (I apparently will have plenty of time for that in the upcoming eight weeks). At any rate at the end of December I was reading a book called WIN the Day by Jerry Lynch. The WIN stands for What’s Important Now. We did not have practice from Friday, December 20 until January 2. My first player in the door January 2 had her mother die from cancer on December 31.  Our team supported this player to the hilt. Later that night, when I was in Rochester to watch the JM v Mankato West game, I received a text from one of the other players talking about her ideas for supporting that player in her hour of need. I was extremely proud that they came up with ideas on their own. It showed a higher level of concern—a caring culture. We lost to Wayzata the next night. Losses are never enjoyable. After the game I told the team that even though we lost we still WIN because the most important thing that day (and every day) was showing that player love and support in her life altering circumstances. They all stepped up in that regard. It is important to focus on what really matters. People matter. Do not take life for granted. Show, communicate, and appreciate it to those around you. WIN the day. We can all experience that. We can all be winners.


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