As driving into Hickory, Indiana, a tiny town, I see that every house has a basketball hoop on the side of their barn. The little town consists of one main street. It has the local supermarket, barbershop, hardware store and some other small stores. While driving on the main street, I noticed that everyone notices a stranger coming into town. That is how small Hickory is. Driving into the high school parking lot I see that the girls dominate the young men by far. Looking around I also see that everyone is talking about the basketball game that night.
When hearing that Norman Dale was going to coach a high school basketball team, I figured it was worth a shot to see how he would handle high school basketball rather than college. His experience in college was once hailed, but then dramatically failed. I was glad that I took the time to see how much talent coach Norman Dale could dish out of his players. I heard through some townspeople that the practices were unreal. Coach Dale was very intense and had the young men were worked very hard. Coach Dale believed that in every practice it should be helping you to get better for your next game and how you practice is how you play.
There were only nine players on the team and they did have talent. It was whether or not it all worked was up to coach Dale. From watching their first game to the game, there was a great journey that the Hickory Hoosiers had. So many things happened and many memories were made. It is a special journey that needs to be shared.
The Hoosiers started out rough, but held their composure. They were losing and the townspeople didnt like how coach Dale was coaching. They disagreed with his decisions that he made during the game and they didnt like his attitude. Coach Dale believed that his style of coaching was appropriate and he wasnt going to change. The townspeople decided to have a meeting to see whether or not they should keep coach Dale. The players were waiting for the answer of if Coach Dale was being fired. The players felt that Coach Dale shouldnt be let go. As the meeting was going on a young man, Billy, from school who was in excellent basketball player but didnt play on the team, due to his home life, came to talk. He said that he would come and play. Everyone in the room cheered and were excited. Some even shouted that now they only need to get rid of the coach. Then Billy interrupted and said that the only way he would play is if Coach Dale stayed. The townspeople agreed to keep Coach Dale and now have Billy playing. The next half of their season they won every game and everyone was happy with what Coach Dale had provided.
The love for the game and the passion for the game are what the young men have. The look in their eyes and the emotion that was shown, tells the fans and coaches that these young men are for real when it comes to playing. When someone has love and passion for something will let you pursue what you need to get done. The young men seem to have this and they want to pursue their journey to a championship.
It wasnt just the coaching that got the Hoosiers through the season and now into the playoffs. It was the young men on the team that believed in themselves through Coach Dale. Coach Dale loved every one of his players and insisted on them playing the way they could play. He saw the passion in their eyes and had total confidence in their abilities. There was also the big difference of having Billy on the team. In the beginning of the season there wasnt a leader on the team. With Billy on the team now, there was someone to go to and get the job done. He carried the team and provided what needed to be done on behalf of the team.
Leadership is taking charge of a task that needs to be accomplished or accompanied by taking on certain roles. Billy takes on the leadership role when he joins the team. The roles that he takes control of are bringing the team together, taking the tough shots, pulling through for the team, vocal leader, and having confidence in himself and revealing it to the team.
When going into playoffs the Hoosiers were nervous yet confident. When watching the style of play that they dealt to the other team, it was amazing. They kept fighting till the end of every game. You could the every player had the will to win in their eyes and they played like it.
The Hoosiers made it through Districts, Regionals, and Semi-finals. Now it was onto the biggest task of all, the State Championship. The people of the little town of Hickory closed their stores, left their homes, put chores on hold for the game. There wasnt a single sole in Hickory. It looked like a ghost town.
The game started and the Hoosiers looked like they were scared and they played like they were scared. They were going up against a bigger school and never faced this competition before. They knew that it would be a tough task, but they also knew that they were good too.
Coach Dale called a timeout to re-group his team. His players looked very frustrated and kept making excuses for what was happening. Coach Dale said to forget what had happened and just play ball their kind of ball. The players said that if they set Billy up for some shoots that would get things going for them. And that is what they did. Billy lit the place up and that got the other players going. Before anyone knew it ole Hickory was back in the game. They got that passion in their eyes to win and were going to go all out to do what needed to win, no matter what the cost.
The final quarter came and Hickory was down by one point. Hickory needed to get the ball back in order to have a chance to win. The Hoosiers got lucky and made a terrific steal to get the ball back. A time out was called and Coach Dale told a play to run with 16 seconds to go. The players slumped in their chairs. Coach Dale didnt know what was going on and asked them to tell him. The guys wanted Billy to take the last shot. Billy said he would make it.
With 16 seconds left Billy dribbled the ball up the court and took his time. Five seconds were left and Billy took three dribbles and pulled up for the shot, nothing but the bottom of the net. The entire place went crazy. The little town of Hickory all rushed the floor. The Hickory Hoosiers were a team of composure and a team that would do anything to win. To see a team from the first game and to the last, it was quite a journey. The love for the game was expressed through the coach to his players and from the players to the coach. The journey is now over but will never be forgotten. This journey shows that no matter how small you are, no matter where you come from, or the past doesnt matter. What does matter is how much heart you put into something. What a great journey.
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