I’ve been blessed to be able to be around athletics my whole life. As a player, coach and as a spectator. A few weeks ago I was honored to be able to travel with Coach Chris Haynes, head basketball coach at Yankton High School, his staff and the Yankton Boys Basketball team to the State AA Basketball Tournament in Rapid City. I’ve been thrilled to work with area athletes in setting up their performance programs and excited to be able to serve as the Yankton Bucks strength and conditioning coach for the past few years.

I’m sure by now you’ve heard, seen, discussed, broken down and even had some heated debates on what happened in the second round of the tournament this year. The situation was heart breaking to say the least, and not just from a figurative point of view, but I was there to see the tears and broken spirits of the young men, coaches and others that worked so hard for months to chase a dream. For some of those young men, the seniors, it was the last leg of their basketball journey.

I’m not here to head down a beaten path once again, or talk about “the Non-Buzzer Beater,” what I am here to say is that all those young men have set themselves up for success in life! Hard to see at the moment. Hard to see even now as the sting of the game is still in our memories. However, life lessons work that way. This situation, and in my opinion, sports and training, teaches us lessons on how to handle what life throws our way. There aren’t many avenues or activities in the modern era that put us into “life lessons” that will serve us down the road.

Let’s face it — sometimes life isn’t fair. Sometimes in sports, like in life, you can do everything to the best of your ability; you can work as hard as you possibly can, have the right mind set, put in hours and hours of practice and training, prepare yourself for victory, and come out on the short end of the stick. The same happens in life! You might be working harder than you ever have and end up losing a job. You might find that a close relationship comes to an end, even when it seems you were doing all the right things and stepping up to do what was supposed to be done. You might even suffer the loss of someone in your life that is unexpected. You are faced with problems, ups and downs, conflicts each day and struggles that you might not see coming. You find that the path you thought was “easy street” for success is filled with bumps, cracks and detours. We hate to see it, we hate to talk about it — but as they say, “That’s life!”The key to success is how do we handle those “life moments” and keep moving forward to find success in what we consider unbearable moments. We all need to know that there will be times in our life when things don’t fall our way, when bad things happen to good people - and when you get up the next day you find out that the sun came up and life is going on.

The sun came up the next day for the Yankton Basketball Team of 2019. They needed to get up the next day, brush off the burden and situation from the night before and play another game. Coach Haynes and his staff needed to prepare for the next opponent. Athletic Trainer Trevor Woods and myself needed to get the players physically ready for another day of competition. Everyone needed to get mentally ready for what the next day would bring. You see, the sun came up, life moved on, and those young men needed to be ready to take on the day and the next challenge — just like in life! AND THEY DID!

I want to say it was easy. I want to say that the next game ended in victory and high fives around. That didn’t happen. However, I honestly believe that everyone invoiced with the program learned a valuable lesson over that weekend.  I believe that being a part of sports, part of a team, and putting themselves through the grind of training over the past year helped them to take the burden and stress that was placed on them and move forward.  

I believe that sports and training put you into moments when you said, “I don’t know if I can go on. I don’t know if I can do another rep. I don’t know if I can run another sprint,” but you do it anyway. At that moment, when you choose to keep getting up and moving on, you put yourself in a learning situation so when you’re in a spot where life can throw “stuff” at you — you bend but don’t break and continue on. Maybe you didn’t win the championship that day. Nevertheless, tomorrow is a new day. As long as you get up from getting knocked down, you can find success. The key is to prepare yourself today for your victory run tomorrow. AND NEVER GIVE UP!

Mark “Coach Rozy” Roozen, M.Ed, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT, FNSCA is the Founder/Director of Coach Rozy Performance - Powered by AVERA Sports. He can be reached at 817-219-2811 or you can email him at rozyroozen@gmail.com for more information on this article or programs that he offers.

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