Following a terrific season in 2015-16, the coaching staff took the following seven months to really reflect on the previous season and look forward to what the next step of our program needed to be. We will always be so incredibly proud of that 2015-16 season and winning our program’s first ever ODAC Championship and making our first ever appearance in the NCAA tournament, but we also knew and wanted to make sure our incoming freshmen and returning classes knew that we aren’t done. That isn’t our cap on where we can go. We want to regularly win ODACs and consistently make it deep into the NCAA tournament so that one day we can bring home the National Title.
With that said, we also knew that this season was going to be so much more than the results. It is going to be more than x’s and o’s. We have our system in place, we know our plays and defense can win championships, we know our recruiting is strong and that we bring in the right girls to develop into amazing women on and off the court, we know our scouting is thorough and our team is always prepared, and we know that our conditioning is at the top of our league. All of that is set into stone within our culture, our players take pride in that, and the incoming classes rise to fit into that culture. When our season comes to the end this year, the result will not be from the success or failure of those things as much as it will depend on our character, our chemistry, our Ethos. Every day our players and coaching staff will wake up and begin defining and fitting the Lynchburg College Women’s Basketball Ethos. For the next 7 weeks, we will reveal the words our players and coaches have chosen to define our Ethos as a program.
1.Character or characterization as revealed in action or its representation; the quality of the permanent, as opposed to the transient or emotional.
2.The characteristic spirit of a people, community, culture, or era as manifested in its attitudes and aspirations; the prevailing character of an institution or system.
3. The character of an individual as represented by his or her values and beliefs; the moral or practical code by which a person lives. (Oxford English Dictionary)
“When the opposition line up against the New Zealand national rugby team they face the haka, the highly ritualized challenge thrown down by one group of warriors to another…Opposing teams face the haka in different ways. Some try to ignore it, others advance on it, most stand shoulder to shoulder to face it. Whatever their outwards response, inwardly the opposition know that they are standing before more than a collection of fourteen players. They are facing a culture, an identity, an ethos, a belief system–and a collective passion and purpose beyond anything they have faced before.
‘Tis death! ‘Tis death!
I may die! I may die!
‘Tis life! ‘Tis life!
I might live! I might live!
Often by the time the haka reaches its crescendo, the opposition have already lost. For rugby, like basketball, and like much of life, is played primarily in the mind. The New Zealand national rugby team is the most successful rugby team in history. They have been called the most successful sports team, in any code, ever. In the professional era, they have an extraordinary win rate of over 86% and are the current World Champions.
The haka reminds us of the inherent fragility of all life. How little time is given to each of us. And how much we still have to do.
It reminds us:
This is our time.
Under coach John Wooden, the UCLA Bruins basketball team won the US national collegiate championship for seven straight years, starting at 1967. At the start of each season he would sit with his team down in their locker room and, for a long time — for a very long time — they would learn how to put on their socks:
—– Check the heel area. We don’t want any sign of a wrinkle about it… The wrinkle will be sure you get blisters, and those blisters are going to make you lose playing time, and if you’re good enough, your loss of playing time might get the coach fired.
The lesson wasn’t really about blisters, or playing time, or whether the coach got fired. It was about doing the basics right, taking care of the details, looking after yourself and the team. ‘Winning takes talent,’ John Wooden would say. ‘To repeat it takes character.’
Between 1979 and 1989, Bill Walsh coached the San Francisco 49ers from an under-performing bunch of also-rans into one of the great sporting dynasties in gridiron history by employing a similar philosophy. He believed that, ‘You get nowhere without character. Character is essential to individuals, and their cumulative character is the backbone of your winning team.’
Walsh knew, ‘that if you established a culture higher than that of your opposition, you would win. So rather than obsessing about the results, you focus on the team.’
—(Quotes and excerpts pulled from Legacy by James Kerr)