It’s a buzz word in sports… “culture.” Every team wants great culture, chemistry…you name it. However, wanting it and achieving it are two different things. As a program the past four years, we’ve committed to positive action and simply having a blast when we are together. It’s sports… it SHOULD be fun. I’ve learned the past four years that the more pressure I put on myself and our kids, the worse we play.
How to prepare for a new campaign, with a blend of new personalities? Our story begins in Cameroon, stops in Boston, and finally ends… or begins…in our home in Bath, Maine.
I’ve never had much success with second languages. In college I took Spanish and on an oral exam I explained to my professor that, yes I did play basketball, and we lost the previous game 190-3. We had our struggles at times but not like that!
Last year I was blessed to form a relationship with Radar Jones, the former basketball coach at New Hampton School. Radar and I started as rivals as his New Hampton B team was a constant thorn in our side and ended up winning the MAISAD league. Basketball creates unlikely friendships. After the season, Radar called me and proceeded to tell me about a group of people in Cameroon who believed and practiced many of the same things we do at Hyde.
I met Yves Lionel Ngalle from L and A basketball agency who introduced us to Christian Beeke, now a first- year student. Our international director extraordinaire, Alex McCormack, and I called Western Union and Cameroon over a hundred times in August, and Christian traveled many miles (TWICE !) to get his Visa. As we say at Hyde.. turn obstacles into opportunities. Back to the language…. As Khalil Depass and I waited for Christian at Logan International, I memorized my ‘lines’ in French.
How are you? Comment allez-vous?
What do you like to eat? Tu Manges…??
Christian arrived with a big smile on his face and we communicated through GOOGLE translate and my broken attempts…. It was all okay — he had a great attitude and was ready for the day. We went to the Lee School in Boston and met with Al McClain, Hyde Legend and mentor to Khalil, Edwin Ezedonmwen, and our former captain, Antoine Montgomery. In a previous blog, we covered Al’s career and impact. It was awesome to get back on the court with the guys and again… we worked on our game and had a blast. The kids still are unable to beat Al in his shooting game – not sure what that means for the season or if Al is just THAT good.
“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
I love Camp. I grew up working and living at a seven-week, sleep-away camp. As we drove back from Boston, I thought, why don’t we get the kids up to Bath at the end of August? However, my friends, this would be a hard sell. Come back to school early? Give up the precious days of summer? Most of our guys likely thought I was crazy, but hey, that’s not a new thought. Yet… I would be surprised. Seven guys agreed to come to Bath early, work as a team, and have lots of fun… presumably. One catch – I had to pick them up!
I filled the red van with gas and HIT the road. Providence, Woodstock, Boston, Acton, Maine. Oh, did I drive, consume tons of coffee and listen to a plethora of podcasts. By Monday night, we had arrived… tired but ready to start the journey. Now, I’ll present you with an example of our favorite day.
- 9:30: Workout 1
- 10:30: STONEHOUSE
- 11:30: Trolley tour
- 12:30: Lunch
- 2:00: Workout 2
- 5:00 WING NIGHT
- 7:00 Lazer Tag…. Or so we thought
The basketball was a blend of new drills from IMPACT BASKETBALL, a wonderful source for any young coach. I was pleased with the effort and hard work of our guys. It was clear they had worked at their respective game and committed to a productive summer. After basketball, I surprised the guys with the feared five- mile loop in Bath: STONEHOUSE RUN.
“Coach… you didn’t tell us we’d be running…”
“Coach…. This is a joke.”
We all ran. It was glorious.
The Bath Trolley is a MUST for anyone. Our driver, Jack, has a wonderful mustache and is a skilled orator. As we traveled through our new homeland, we enjoyed the sites and a snack onboard. The Bell…ding ding ding!.. was a hit as we finished at Brackets Market for Gatorades and healthy snacks. Emphasis on HEALTHY… this would be important for the future consumption of Midcoast delectables.
WING NIGHT. Everyone north of Trader Joes in Portland knows of the unique experience of Benchwarmers on a Tuesday night. 40 cent wings! Mountains of food and hand wipes. We dug in with Tripp Henderson and Coach Andy Wimmer. Those guys are also large… I felt like this.
A lovely Hyde basketball tradition is to encourage our first year players to eat the Kitchen Sink – a wing that burns the taste buds off your mouth – or something like that. Our guys survived, but they had to visit the bathroom before we drove to Portland.
Back to the red van – we fit six very large young adults in the vehicle (prepping for the season) and drove to lazer tag. One problem… lazer tag was closed. Not sure why they just didn’t ask me to run the show! We were flexible and adaptable and settled on an ancient game which requires the participant to throw a ball at clowns. Exciting! The guys loved it and broke the record. Winning already… on the road…in the arcade.
As we packed up our bags, it was clear that this was another Hyde BBALL hit. From Eustis in 2014, to Boston in ’15, Team Camp will go down in the books and deserves another blog! Back to culture… we always have fun, we hold each other accountable, and commit to hard work. That’s culture. Let’s see where it takes us. The journey begins.
Coach Corey Begly