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Coaches Corner: Reflections on a 29-Game Losing Streak

I recently saw an article about a team breaking a long losing streak. It brought me back to a memory of a reporter asking me a question after a win, “How does it feel to break the 29 game losing streak?”

At first, it didn’t really resonate with me at all. I had never done the math. I knew we were 0-21 the year before. The year before that we had dropped a few at the end, and we had lost our first few at the beginning of that year. I don’t remember exactly what I said even though the reporter’s question has always been with me since.

Having a losing streak like that is difficult. During that time, I felt worst for the players that were playing on our team and playing for me. Most of them were decent in their other sports and at least had some success. Basketball was not as kind. During the season, they listened, they tried, and they were respectful to me and to each other.

One time, about this time of the season, one of my fellow teachers said he heard a few players saying they just wished the season were over. I talked to the team that night and told them that they give their best in life, school and their other sports. They owe it to themselves to give their best the rest of the season.

I felt the players gave me their best the rest of the way. Even though we never had a 2nd half lead all year, we were up on our conference champion in our first tournament game in the second quarter. Even though the outcomes were not great, I was excited for the next year.

When we did win the game that broke the streak the following year, I could see the happiness in the players, and that is what I also remember from that night. It still was a long road, and we did start another losing streak. It wasn’t as long and I don’t remember how many, but I knew from that point forward I would be looked at as the coach with the 29 game losing streak.

I had a parent tell me that “these players will never believe in you”. I still remember my response and how quick it was, “well then I will find players that will.”

As hard as the players were trying, I wanted to give them everything I could. I knew that they needed to have a reason to keep giving the effort we were asking them to give. For the kids that did not quit during the tough times, what kind of message would I be sending to them if I gave up?

I wanted to write this for one reason. For all the coaches out there that are struggling, there is hope. Keep on working. Keep on giving your kids motivation to improve. Every night is a new night, every week is a new week. If you don’t expect your kids to give up, how can you?

Along the way don’t forget the following:

Your family. Without them you will have a tough time to keep on going. It is not easy for your spouse or children to hear about how bad of a coach you are. They are going through all of the tough times as well. I am thankful I had that support.

Your coaches that work with you. I was extremely fortunate to have coaches that were supportive. I can’t say enough about the loyalty of those, and even though we had some rough times, I have never forgotten the people who stood by me. You need to have people that you can trust. Without those it will be difficult to succeed.

Lastly, to all of the players that play on a struggling team. It is not easy. What you are doing is something that will build for the future. Your hard work and commitment will pave the way for younger kids to want to be better. To the players that we had during the tough times, thank you for everything you did. You really did help build something to be proud of.

Coaches, keep on giving your all. There are definitely tough times, but isn’t that the lesson we want to teach? That we can persevere no matter how bleak things may look. If you have a passion and a love for coaching, do not give up on it just because you have a few struggles.

Good luck to everyone the rest of the season.

Written by Beaver Dam girls basketball coach Tim Chase, who has coached for more than 20 years.