Building a team of 3rd in a culture of 1st
Building a team of 3rd in a culture of 1st
We live in a culture of ‘1st.’ In a “Me1st” age of social media and selfies, instant gratification and personal comfort reign supreme.
IWUHoops is striving to build a team hungry for ‘3rd.’ In an age where comfort and apathy fight against greatness, instilling the habits of putting God first and others second opens the door for new potential.
Building a team of 3rd in culture of 1st is no easy task. The journey of a basketball season is never a straight line to the top. There are challenges to be faced and obstacles to be overcome.
‘The Journey’ will take you behind the scenes of IWUHoops 2016-2017 season. Throughout the month of May, check back daily for stories that give you a raw, unfiltered look at the highs and lows that IWU experienced on their way to a 3rd Fab Four in the past four years.
Throughout a players career with IWUHoops, they begin to value shared experiences with others more than accumulating possessions for themselves. That is why we have been everywhere from the Bahamas to Puerto Rico to New Zealand to the Dominican Republic. It is why we have hiked the Grand Canyon and gone on a cruise. It is through these experiences that memories are created and the bonds of brotherhood are strengthened, allowing each man in our program to grow closer to his potential.
IWUHoops went on a trip to San Francisco and Hawaii in December 2016. The experiences from the trip stretched the team to grow in new ways. Go behind the scenes as we counted down the days to 2017, and accept the challenge to adopt some of these mentalities the team learned as your 'New Year's Resolution' for the coming year.
Dr. Keith Newman serves in many roles at IWU, including mentor, story teller, CEO of Residential Education and Executive Vice President. Last week, he took on a new role for a member of the IWU Men's Basketball team--"Dad". Dr. Newman blogged about his experience at the 2016 Father/Son Retreat on his popular blog 'Curious Sojourner.'
Walking through our Student Center a few weeks ago I was stopped by one of our newest students who wanted to know what I was doing on the weekend of September 16th. Uncertain about my calendar or his request I inquired to learn the reason for his question. His response was short and simple:
“I need you to be my Dad for that weekend.”
My young friend is a member of our basketball team and each year in preparation for their season the coaches lead a father and son retreat, complete with the coaches’ fathers in attendance too. These adventures provide a time for the guys to eat unhealthy food, compete in a variety of games, take on some crazy undertaking (this year it was paintball), and make some lifelong memories. Without checking my calendar, I knew that I was in. Whatever the conflict, I would cancel, whatever the obstacle, I would find a way to remove. How can one say no to the opportunity to stand-in for a young man whose father lives on another continent with no possibility of joining this annual expedition?
For the past 5 years I had heard powerful stories that came from these retreats but I had never experienced one. Now I have and the experience was even better than the stories. What a privilege to have a ringside seat to something very seldom seen or heard in our cyber-world of text messaging, social media, and the Velcro-like attachment of our “smart” phones. As a guy who grew up without a father, the weekend created all sorts of emotions for me and reminded me of how grateful I am that God sent some wonderful men along as “borrowed Dads” along the way.
Over the course of a few hours this past weekend I witnessed earthly fathers doing their best imitation of their heavenly Father. Their prayers, their words of affirmation, and their hugs and high fives gave me hope and encouraged me to wish that for every boy and girl, regardless of their age.
The weekend also reminded me of those opening words from the most famous prayer ever offered:
“Our Father which art in heaven…”
If you study the life of Jesus’ time on earth you will discover that He was a son that liked to call home. On a regular basis, we find Jesus calling home to talk to His Father. When his disciples asked him for help in learning how to pray, He offered the model prayer that most of us know as the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus didn’t teach His disciples this prayer to be used as some kind of packaged devotional or a “Get Out of Jail Free Card.” He wants it to be a model for regular calls to our heavenly home.
I confess to you that I understand prayer about as well as I understand how a “smart” phone works or any phone for that matter. It makes no sense at all to me that I can pick up a phone and dial some numbers and instantly be connected with someone on the other side of the world. But my lack of understanding does not prevent me from using a telephone nor does it prevent me from praying.
Jesus, in these first few words of the Lord’s Prayer, was offering a completely new image of God to His listeners. Read the Old Testament and you will find that God was almost always referred to as YAHWEH and was rarely spoken because of the awe and reverence associated with the name. Only seven times in the Old Testament was God referred to as Father and those references were indirect, and rather remote. It is difficult for us to understand the significance of calling God: Our Father. What is a common practice today was revolutionary in Jesus’ day. The word for Father is the word “Abba” – it was an everyday word, completely common. It can easily be translated: DAD. It was a term of endearment. No Jew would have ever dared address God in this manner. But Jesus did, every time He prayed with one notable exception: when He was hanging on the cross.
More than 200 times in the Gospels, Jesus refers to God as Father. In His very first recorded words, Jesus explained to His parents where He was when they thought He was lost by saying:
“Didn’t you know I would be in my Father’s house?”
An accident? I don’t think so. Jesus understood that your image of God would have a major impact on your willingness and eagerness to call home.
I love it when my kids call home. It makes my day. Whether they need something or just want to talk I’m always eager to hear from them and I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that the same is true for our heavenly Father. So if you haven’t talked to Our Dad in a while, I hope you will call home today!
What began five years ago as an idea to connect fathers with sons and give dads a behind the scenes look at the program their sons play in has turned in to one of the highlights of the year. Whether it is going to a Cubs game, playing basketball with an NBA player, or white water rafting in West Virginia, relationships in our program have deepened as we have welcomed our dads to peek behind the scenes of the IAm3rd Way. This year's Father/Son Retreat was spent in Brown County and Bloomington, where the dads got to watch the teams first practice and then take their sons on in paintball. Joel Okafor, a Sophomore transfer from Bradley University, shares his thoughts on his first F/S Retreat. Read last year's blogs from the trip here.
I have learned quickly that the culture and environment of IWU is different from others that I have experienced, and the Father/Son Retreat is one example. I knew that I was in a unique position because my dad could not make it from Nigeria. As I prayed about asking someone I respected to fill in, Dr. Keith Newman immediately came to mind. We become close while I was on campus during the summer. There were a few times where we both were at Baldwin alone and we ate lunch together and talked a lot about our stories.
In our conversations, Dr. Newman and I immediately formed a connection and the way the conversation went was like a father and son kind of conversation. I came in unsure of what I wanted to study and he gave me lots of advice about my career path and areas I could consider. Dr. Newman talked to me about taking the strength finder test online and convinced me to take the test. After I took the test we met again and talked about how the results fit into me and also talked about the ones I can keep building on. He also told me about how each week he picks his five favorite things that happened and by doing this he has learned more about what he enjoys. Doing this has helped me have greater insight into what I enjoy and what I may want to study. Through these conversations, I began to see Dr. Newman more as a father figure than just a vice president of our school.
The Father/Son Retreat ended up being a neat experience for me. I have never done anything like that. I was kind of nervous going in because when most dads hang out with their son, they talk about sports, school, jobs and things of that nature. During the Father/Son Retreat, there was a lot of that talk, but also time building Christ-centered relationships and getting to know teammates and dads on a deeper level. On Saturday morning during breakfast, one of the dads got up without being asked and shared how the retreat the previous year had led him to grow in specific ways related to his business. On Sunday morning, Coach T gave a devotional and then some dads started sharing. It was a special time. One of the dads said he has been nervous about where the world is headed but spending a weekend around young men like us give him hope for the future. Another dad of a freshman shared how much easier it was to have his son leave home when he was entering an environment like our team had. The words that the dad’s spoke made me want to pour more in the word of God and use it to change lives.
As I look back, I know the retreat will help us grow as a team and build chemistry in new ways. Having all of this off the court trust will only translate into more trust on the court. I am anxious to see it all unfold as practice begins!
Alums of IWUHoops often look back and say the missions trips were the most impactful times of their experience at IWU. Considering many of them have had experiences like winning national championships and playing games in places like Hawaii and Puerto Rico, what makes this trip so special? Check out the blog from last year's trip.
“Repeating a championship is the hardest thing to do in sports.”
It’s a line that has been said many times by Hall of Fame Coaches. What is IWU's plan to get 'bigger and better' after winning two of the last three national titles?