Tom Newell At Large

Greetings this Holiday Season...As we wind down the year of 2011, and reflect upon the experiences, some good, some not so, and yet some wonderful, we need to make sure that we understand clearly, that we're learning, improving our knowledge on and off the court, grasping leadership opportunities daily (that we never knew were so important), making right decisions on and off the court and most importantly, having the experience of ongoing development in our academic and athletic environs...Wow!! T'aint that a "textFULL" reminder of 2011...!! :-) 

Okay, so for those who have just completed their Christmas Tournaments and their coaches are focused upon the upcoming conference season, we must daily remind ourselves that this "part" of the season, the middle, is where we begin to see our advancement, our improvements, our self confidence and our overall approach to the game aspire to new levels of success, meaning the opportunities for such abound, just for the "taking", no prodding from Family, teammates, coaches, just ourselves, a cognizant observation and conversation within that reminds us to "get busy...leave it on the court everyday, bust some prime USDA Hind Quarters and relax once the final buzzer has sounded..."...

For those individuals who have struggled philosophically, emotionally and physically (injuries, etc.) this season, don't despair, please...Know this: your value to your Teammates daily is paramount to the TEAM'S SUCCESS, even if it means you, as one of 1-12 players, struggles with your shot, your finishes, your FTs, your self confidence and your "stats", you will miss this golden opportunity to "grow" to another level of personal attainment with this wonderful game, abandoning ALL that makes up the fun aspects of being on a team, win or lose, the trust and confidence YOUR Teammates FEED off of your positive support model...So what if your minutes have been reduced when the team struggles in games, and you "feel" the pressure of NOT scoring like you should...Did you REBOUND? Did you BLOCK OUT your opponent so your Teammates could rebound? Do you sometimes "FORGET" your responsibilities to TALK on Defense, calling out Screens Left and Right? Did you forget to block out on a Free Throw...Have you made this game so personal that you're not having FUN anymore? If so, then take a DEEEEEEEEEEP BREATH....hold to the count of 10...eyes closed...and exhale slowly through your mouth and RELEASE every freakin negative thought you may have about YOURSELF (1st!) as a basketball player; how you FEEL about your Coach(es); how you LIKE certain players on your Team but not others ( YOU MUST RESPECT YOUR TEAMMATES ALL WAYS, not necessarily LIKE THEM)...If you NEED to repeat this EXERCISE, then do so, however many times it takes to "CLEANSE" your competitive basketball mind of the JUNK that YOU'VE ALLOWED to take a place upstairs...Let me ask you this: when your hands get dirty, and you know they are, do you pick up food with them (chips, french fries, candy, cupcake, burger, apple, orange, etc.) or do you wash, cleanse your hands before eating? Then WHY do we allow ourselves to get "dirty" from OUTSIDE GERMS (comments from teammates, coaches, friends) ATTACH themselves to our psyche, emotions of the moment/day/practice/game, and THINK that everything is "HONKYDORRY" and we can ENJOY ourselves before/during/after any engagement with Family, Team and Friends...WE MUST LEARN how to "cleanse" our minds of negative thought processes that weigh us down and overwhelm us in the end (of practice, games, at home when Mom or Dad ask us how everything is going...)...So, what I'm sharing here is INVALUABLE "gems from the gym" elements on "how" we can clean ourselves up DAILY, before practice/games and AFTER same...You gotta do this, if you don't, you'll go nutz trying to play the game with a shovel in one hand and the ball in the other: it won't work...it won't work...it won't work....If it does, call me, we'll go into business together and become rich and famous like Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookies... 

Okay, I know, forgive me, please, it's been soooooooooooooooo long since I've seen and spoken to most of you, yet I sense we each have "suffered" through some emotional trauma related to our play, our team, and perceived lack of success SO FAR THIS SEASON...Bah HUMDATBUG!! NOW...TODAY...NOT TOMORROW...get'er done and have some FUN!!

Happy New Year Everyone...we'll be teein it up again NEXT weekend, and I hope for those to whom this email speaks to your heart, please don't go mute and NOT communicate with your parents and myself about what you're thinking, feeling and holding back deep down within that Warrior Spirit WE ALL POSSESS!!


Much love to all...

Coach t

Just wanted to wish each Student Athlete and their Families and very Happy Thanksgiving and day together, free from distractions and attractions, other than the presence of each Family member helping Mom in the kitchen either before or after your sit down celebration...

There is sooooooooooo much for each of us to be thankful for today and actually everyday, really, but we sometimes get waylaid by the events of normal daily living: late getting ready for school, how we look, tests pending, hungry ('cause we were late and didn't eat breakfast), need gas in the car BEFORE going to school, forgot something, didn't finish paper night before, wondering if we're going to practice hard today, forgot my shoes and gear, have a Drs. appointment, etc...

Sound familiar? Okay, so back to Mom again and 'what' YOU can do today to help Mom out: ASK!! It might even be the DISHES!! Whoa! I know that's something that you really don't want to "offer" to do, but guess what, DO IT!!

Then, take the time to sit down and write on a piece of paper what this day means to you and how much you enjoy all the work that Mom puts into the special day, and share it with your Mom...Think about it: it's the ONLY DAY that Mom and can really delve into making all those special delights from the Turkey to her special dressing and gravy, along with the vegetables and of course the homemade desserts...Wow!! So, take a moment to reflect about what your Mom puts into this special day for HER FAMILY and especially for each your siblings, Dad and perhaps another friend, Family who are joining the Day...I know, I know, Dad usually has the TV on getting ready for the Packers/Lions football game, but YOU can smell the Epicurian delights emitting from the kitchen, and visualizing how it's all going to come out on one table for all to enjoy...Now, if you are "distracted" by the temptation of the internet: Facebook, music videos, You Tube, texting and just isolating yourself, shame on YOU!! Get with it!! BE THANKFUL to your Mom and Dad, share it with them with a note OR at the table with a simple: "I am so thankful for the support I continue to receive for school and sports in my life right now from all of you, I am really thankful for that, and this day REMINDS me to do just that: BE THANKFUL for the love and support all ways...

 

Parents: thank you for your continued support and kind words with our training program that we hope is developing the necessary leadership skills and basketball disciplines that will always reflect the values and sportsmanship that your Family believes in life and competitions, respectively...I wish ALL MOMS a Happy Thanksgiving today, that the moment you sit down and embrace the vision of your Family sitting together, no phones ringing, no tv distractions, just you and the wonderful miracle of life blessing you daily at this moment, especially, Happy Thanksgiving..and I wish all DADS a Happy Thanksgiving as well, one that they know their hard work, provisions and sacrifices make this day of "reflections" possible to enjoy and memorable...Happy Thanksgiving...

 

To our Student Athletes: thanks for giving your Best Effort each and every time out during our training sessions, we know how much each of you wish to be successful off the court and on the court, and that experience is really a reflection by you at the end of each season, an experience that no one else can relate to, remember that, and now, here on Thanksgiving, we have another "reflection" of sorts, one that precedes our high school season which is about to commence, and for those who are already engaged in competitions, look upon your Mom and Dad, sister(s) and brother(s), and realize how much you've GROWN emotionally, physically and spiritually, all elements that make you thankful for their love and support...Happy Thanksgiving to you as well!!

As I said earlier, we have NO TRAINING this weekend...but will regroup the following weekend...have a wonderful weekend, seize the love, celebrate your Family...

God Bless, 

Coach t

My "take" on what happened at Penn State this past week...it's a long longer story than normal, but will help parents and kids to know why I am different than most coaches you would ever meet in youth sports today... 

Okay, this is been on my mind for over 30 years and perhaps even longer...my first experience of 'hearing' about a elementary school teacher and 'mentor'-type individual who preyed on unsuspecting young boys came from an experience I was made aware of over 35 years ago in Independence, California...

I had made a decision in my "sportslife" to move on from playing professional basketball overseas and get "on" with life as I "renewed" it back in the good ol USA (1974)...The opportunity to be involoved with kids in youth basketball and also as a volunteer as a Juvenile Justice Commissioner in Inyo County, the largest county in the State of California, was an experience that paved the way towards how I became the "advocate" for all children participating in youth sports today...

I worked part time with the Juvenile Probation Department in Inyo County, and Mr. John Lee, Chief Probation Officer at the time, took me under his wing and taught me many things about the troubled youth in this county that I will always remember and apply those lessons learned with the knowledge and skills to communicate with any young person today...

As a volunteer JJC, we would meet and discuss the "whys" of our issues with juvenile miscreant activities in our county and what could we do about it...I was so smart, I suggested that instead of sending our kids down to Los Angeles to the California Youth Authority 'camps', we needed to keep our delinquent boys, ages 11-17 in Inyo County...Why is all of this important, I'll tell you why...There was a young juvenile ward of the court who I had to transport from Independence, California to LA, and drop him off at this facility in Los Angeles...the drive was a 3 hours plus, and the conversation was intense...His name was Michael C., and I was suppose to transport him in my "cage" backseat as I was transporting him...well, as you can imagine, here is this young fella, scared to his toe cuticles, heading into the unknown, frightened like a spider monkey seeing an Orangutan for the first time...Anyway, I broke the "rules" and allowed Michael (his peers never addressed him with his last name, even teachers also) to sit up front with me for the long drive south...He "taught" me more about the "issues" of our rural area in terms of "not" helping kids with learning disabilities and broken family issues unlike any book that could have ever taught me during my time in the Probation Department...

Michael told me he "did" these miscreant activities (breaking into cars, shoplifting and getting into fights) to get help, any kind of help, as the beatings he endured at home from an abusive father making him think about doing things that were worse than he could have ever imagined at the time...Now, he was finally getting "help" in the way he never ever suspected: locked up in a "displaced" venue for troubled youth, an "disHONOR" Camp, so to speak, but unknown to me in terms of the stuff that was ongoing there...Michael and I became "new" friends on this trip and I told him that we stay in touch and that he could contact me anytime and I would "listen" to him...Just that WORD alone made all the difference in the world in his mind: "...someone who cares and will listen to me..."...When I transferred him over to the facility director, and walked the grounds to visualize what exactly Michael's life would be like daily, at first glance it appeared "safe" and I blindly thought Michael would flourish in such an environment...The 'camp' had outside sports fields, wood shop, small farm operations with a garden, chickens, etc...When I was ready to leave, Michael was summoned to say goodbye, and I hugged him and told him to write me and "let's stay in touch..."...

A month went by, and I heard nothing from Michael, so I called the facility and spoke with the Director there and inquired as to how Michael was doing...She said he was "struggling" with the discipline and structure of the programs there and was in solitary confinement several times...It was here that I became "aware" of something bigger that I could have ever imagined: "bullying and abuse within the confines of this facility..."...I asked my boss, Mr. Lee, if I could make a special trip down and visit with Michael and do a "research" on the overall advantages or not of our assigning Wards of the Court *(Juveniles) to this venue... 

The conversation and experience I had upon my return visit to this camp changed my whole outlook on how we (adults, parents, teachers, coaches, mentors, religious figures, etc.) "assume" other administrations can "reform" troubled youths...Michael met with me and broke down, uncontrollably, he had bruises on his arms and a healing black eye...It took me over an hour for him to "open" up and tell me the horror of his experience after one month...He was attacked by 3-4 gang members at this facility, and told me he had to "do" things or they would 'kill' him, and he couldn't do anything about it because "they" controlled this place...mind you, over 100 kids were at this 'honor' farm (kids who would "only" serve 6 months or less...the abuse he endured and was forced to do made me sick...The tears and fears he shared scared me so much I wanted to TAKE him back to Independence with me right now...I told him that he would be protected from this point on and I would try to have him relocated back to our city, Independence, as soon as we could...

I hugged him, said a prayer with him, and said not to worry about any repercussions from this conversation, that he would never be subjected to this type of abuse again...We parted, I immediately met with the Supervisor there, shared my story and concerns and told them that Michael's life is in danger and that it was their responsibility to separate him immediately from the general population there...that I was informing my boss, Mr. Lee of the issues and circumstances surrounding Michael's incarceration at this time...I called Mr. Lee, told him verbatim what I had just endured and experienced in conversation with Michael and "can you please get the court to release him to our custody RIGHT NOW, I fear for his life, etc..."...Mr. Lee told me he would speak to the Judge and see what he can do on his end and that he was going to speak with the authorities there...I was also instructed to "come home...", and leave it to him and others to help Michael at this time...People, I was so distraught with Michael's sad story, I sped back to Independence from LA and was stopped by the Highway Patrol for speeding on Highway 395...the Patrolman saw my "State" car, ID and License and the "cage" in my undercover State Vehicle, that he let me go...He asked me "why" I was going so fast...I told him what I had just experienced and was distracted just trying to think about how I could change the system of reforming our misguided youth in Inyo County and NOT send them away...He was very understanding and told me to "take it easy" and get home safely...I did...

The End to the Beginning of a new story...Within two weeks, Michael was released from this facility and returned "home" to Inyo County to a Foster home in the area...I was not allowed to return to the facility to pick him up as I was considered persona non grata by the Supervisor there and Mr. Lee didn't want me to get into it when I picked up Michael...guess he knew my "Irish" temper...Michael's subsequent relocation and counseling helped him tremendously and the foster family provided the model to follow that he never experienced before in his young life and he recovered... 

What happened next was the most incredible experience I can ever share with all of you who just think I was and have been a "basketball coach" in the NBA...My trip back from the California Youth Authority farm the second time, inspired me to come up with an idea that even Mr. Lee considered at the time, but didn't "know" anyone who lead it until we had become close friends: he, my mentor with troubled youth, and me, the willing student of life who cared and wanted to help anyway I could...The launch and operation of the "Boys Group Home" of Independence, California was underway...yours truly became the Director with NO relief help for the first 6 weeks (really!!)...6 boys were assigned to this home, and I was the cook, father, brother, teacher and coach all in one, at the young age of 27...We laughed together, cried together and yet learned something new about ourselves and respect for others daily...During the first six months of our operation, we had a total of 12 boys go through the  program, ranging from 30 days to 6 months 'lockup', which was far from anything that the California Youth Authority would ever endorse...One young person, Eddie L., age 12, gifted pen/pencil artist and "tagger", was in our program due to his miscreant activity that ranged from tagging, shoplifting, sniffing glue, minor in possession and stealing from parked cars at Park Trailheads in Inyo County...Eddie was the youngest and "weakest" of all the boys we had in our program that year...he wasn't any taller than 4'6" and I had to give him four rolls of quarters, two in each pants pockets, to weigh him down when he was outside and the wind was blowing...anyway, Eddie told me about his young life, the lack of supervision from his drug induced parenting model (mother and seldom seen father), and how he was labeled "runt" by his peers and "dared" to do things he shouldn't do in the community...he got caught, obviously, and similar to Michael, was just screaming for attention and help...Eddie told me he really liked school, but because he was always getting into trouble (fights with others, disrespecting teachers, etc.), he hated going to school also...I asked him if they (school) provided any counseling for him and his mother, and he said at the time, a social worker came by but they never saw her again...he then told me about an assistant "principal" at his school (Big Pine Middle School) that was a "bad" person, and he was in "charge" of discipline, etc...Eddie told me that this guy was taking advantage of boys who were getting in trouble and that it was not "nice" what he was doing to some of them...Whoa, I said to myself, "...what the hell is going on here...?"...without going into detail with me, he said he never "gave in" to this guy and it was then that he became a truant, not wanting to EVER go back to that school again...I immediately contacted Mr. Lee and asked him to come over and sit down with Eddie and myself as it was really a serious issue going on in Big Pine, California...Mr. Lee came over, took notes, told Eddie he was a "brave" young man to speak up and that he was going to help others so this wouldn't happen again...he told Eddie to NOT say anything to anyone as the (authorities) had to do background checks and investigate this and if said he told me and Mr. Lee about this conversation, they may never "catch" him and charge him...Two months later this "educator" was charged as a pedophile and sentenced to prison...the number of boys was more than several, ages 10-14...Eddie, under our program was successfully released back into his community with a Foster home and finished high school...

Okay, why is this reflection and this long, longer story than you would/could have ever imagined from me? Because WE, as adults have to "raise" our children in our "village" daily and embrace those young people who are friends with our children, and yet their circumstances in their home lives and sports lives might raise our awareness and we're wondering "if' there's something that they would like to talk about or share with us that will help them through their sadness, etc...Listen, Folks, all I'm asking here, saying is this: "...know your kids friends, understand their fears and needs, and most of all LISTEN to them now, so you too can help them to help others less fortunate and preyed upon by unsuspecting so called "leaders"...

As you know, I have NEVER closed our training sessions and remind parents to ALWAYS be sure to observe the "coach model" of your son/daughter training, playing, being coached in ANY activity by a volunteer coach...IT is OUR responsibility to make sure our children are safe, protected and encouraged to communicate WHENEVER a coach, teacher or other adult member of society tries to take advantage of them, or verbally abuses them for mistakes, the way they play, and just general negative imprinting upon their young psyches...Can I get an Amen, here?

To the voices of our children, may your hearts be heard by us all...

Coach tom  

Fears: often times we (Student Athletes ) forget that our Parents have nothing to do with the "process" of what "Tryouts" mean at the Interscholastic level of competition, whatever sport it is today...Why? Well, let's reflect a moment...Our Parent(s) sign us up for soccer, baseball, softball, swimming, tennis, football, LAX, and other activities as well at an early age, remember?...this "process" commences at the early age of 6 years old...so, for the next several years, we "learn" (hopefully) how to be on a team, practice, learn the rules of competition, how to wear a uniform properly, and hopefully understand the sportsmanship involved in each activity...During this process, our Parents make a decision for us to be "trained" by a professional or facsimile instructor who may or may not be qualified, per se, (limited knowledge of child psychology today in youth sports participation and proper fundamentals player development), and this investment on their part is really honest and hopeful...Honest in its initial application: developing the skills set to be successful in competition and gaining the self confidence to "advance" (play on a Select Team sometime soon) and maybe evolve into a position on the team in high school someday...Hopeful that their (Parents) expectations was a worthwhile investment towards individual achievements, etc...So, here we "arrive" at high school, and we're required to sign ourselves up, NOT our Parents this time, for the first time, as they are only required to "sign" the medical waiver (Insurance release form), sign the Honor Code and adhere to the Schools' required rules and regs when a Student Athlete in extracurricular activities...It is here, that the first emotion of "fear" when in high school, out of the class room and onto the field of competition begins: "...am I good enough to make the team...can I make the Freshman Team...JV Team...Varsity...will I start (whatever level of tryout I experience)...will I actually play..."

Peers: "...wow, I didn't know that there would be this much conditioning and work without the ball...I don't know if I'm strong enough to compete...geeze, he/she is so much more skilled than me, plus they played for one of the best Select teams...I haven't grown much this summer...I don't know if I like this "setup" as much as my Dad and Mom do...what if I shoot airballs...what if I make mistakes...what if I get my shot blocked...what if they steal the ball off my dribble or pass and cut...what if the coach(es) don't like me...I can't shoot very well outside (Coach t says: "...who can TODAY?")...I'm not strong enough...I can't stop anyone One on One...a Grasshopper jumps higher than I do...what do I tell my parents after each day of tryouts...wow, there sure are some better players than me trying out, look how well they shoot, run and jump, they're really fast, stronger, etc...why does the coach encourage these players and compliment them more than me and the other kids trying out...what if I don't make the team..."

Insight: Coach t believes that we can overcome all FEARS daily before we lace our shoes up for tryouts...How? Simple: visualize those elements of your skills set that you do have confidence in and focus on the ONE KEY ELEMENT that NO PEER can MATCH: Your BEST EFFORT!! Yep, think about it: "I am going to hustle and work harder than anyone else there, not drop my shoulders when I make mistakes, because Coach t says "...mistakes are part of the learning and developing process in organized sports...no one plays perfect...BUT...if my sports DNA is my Best Effort, then WHO can deny that aspect of my game that will ALL WAYS stand out before coaches and peers...?"...Then when I step on the court with a basketball, I am going to shoot some layups first on a side basket, make them all, then shoot some bank shots to make sure my "release point" is consistent and I am balanced when I shoot from the outside; then I'll warm up with the ballhandling drills Coach t taught us, and all the time just FOCUSED on the opportunity to demonstrate and exhibit how much I love this game and can hardly wait to show the coaches and my peers that I may not be as good as they are YET, skills set-wise, BUT I know I will outwork them at both ends because of my BEST EFFORT...Boohlyah!! I am going to be supportive of my new teammates during this tryout, complimenting them on their passes that helped me score or a teammate, support those who make mistakes, telling them it's "okay, don't worry about it..."; talk on defense, calling out screens left/right, switching properly, containing my opponent with the ball, pushing them to the sideline or baseline, knowing that I may 'stop' them, but they are not going to get a layup off of me;  reminding myself to be sure to block out the shooter and also block out inside and have my arms in a ready/rebound position, and lastly, reminding myself what Coach t always talks about: "being a leader on and off the court..."...Wow, what a Blueprint, right? So, let's reread this, talk about it with our Parents, and prepare for the one of the most exciting experiences in the game: Tryouts!!

Feel free to email me your fears, doubts and overall lack of self confidence if you wish to discuss this further...That is what makes our Student Athletes more prepared than most: we talk the walk...we visualize success before the lights go on...we know the 2 Habits in Basketball...we know the 2 Ways to play the game...we know the 3 Speeds, and will use them when applicable...and WE KNOW how to react, act and respond to adversity, because Coach t says: "...adversity and/or failure and mistakes are the beginning of developing the courage to compete..."...

Let's get'er done!! Begin now, today for tomorrow's success...Bottom line: have Fun...have FUN!! Always...

Coach t

Hello again…I know, I know: “where have you been, tom?”…Let’s just say this: I’ve been a busy camper over the last several months, beginning with my Best Effort Camps & Clinics for kids in Seattle, Tukwila and Renton community centers…We had a great summer together…

I also visited the Bay Area to help Coach Bob Hill and Frank Matrisciano (Personal Trainer of the Highest Degree) at a summer-long program they operate…Frank is the gentleman who trained the NBA’s #1 pick, Blake Griffin, for a couple of years while he was attending Oklahoma as an underclassman…That experience was terrific for several reasons…Beginning with working with Patrick Patterson and Daniel Orton of the University of Kentucky and Anthony Goods (formerly of Stanford), and Ed White (former Yale player)…There were about 18 players at the maximum training in the morning with Coach Hill (longtime NBA coach) and running sand dunes in the afternoons with Frank…Great stuff there…will redo that trip again this summer…

While there, I was fortunate enough to visit my high school JV coach, Ned Averbuck and his Family…Ned is and has been one of the most incredible positive influences in my life as a young neophyte in life as a teenage student-sometimes-athlete, teaching me and my teammates the values of working as a team and trusting one another through hard work and best effort always…he and his wife, Maxine, were gracious hosts to my visit in Sebastopol, California…Beautiful city, beautiful home, beautiful people…She is an artist, author and Grandmother extraordinaire…Ned is also an artist, a graphic “live” artist, meaning his work is on a court, not canvas, the colors being participants in his basketball academy, the abstracts defined by their unique skills set, but all blending together as a model of discipline and execution…And to think, I was invited to participate and “add” to his academy…That was one of the highlights of my summer experiences for sure…

Then in September, I was fortunate enough to have the wonder-filled experience of visiting Belfast, Ireland, Madrid, Spain and Boom, Belgium…All basketball related experiences…Belfast, Cork and Dublin, Ireland, were the cities where my Coaches Who Care, International coaches training clinics took place…I cannot begin to describe the exhilarating anxieties of being in my late Mother and Father’s parents country…First, growing up in a parochial academic environment and seeing photos and hearing stories from our Catholic teachers about the religious issues between Protestants and Catholics, and their hatred for one another and that same disdain carrying over from generation to generation in Belfast and all of Northern Ireland…Scary stuff for sure…And here I was in the middle of it all…Accompanying me was my good friend and assistant coach, Larry Stone of Seattle…LStone has helped me before in my clinics and is also a former youth select team girls coach in Seattle…He was kind enough to take the time from his busy schedule to accompany me on this trip and film the program until he returned to Seattle before my departure…We had a great experience together, teaching kids in 3 different cities as well as working with the coaches…

Madrid, Spain…that was an in-between trip, leaving Belfast for 3 days and accepting the FIBA (International Basketball Association) Hall of Fame Award Posthumously on behalf of my Family in honor of Pete Newell, my late father…That experience was an emotional highlight, culminated by thanking those in attendance for the opportunity to celebrate Coach Pete’s contributions to the modern game of basketball…Oscar Robertson was also inducted at the same time, both men representing the Gold Medal winning 1960 Olympic Men’s Basketball Team…

Fast Forward: well, I’m into my coaches training program once again…here in Seattle, Tukwila and Renton, Washington…It is such a great joy to have this opportunity to help volunteer coaches with learning how to teach young participants how to play basketball…Too often, we see former players in high school and perhaps college, become volunteer coaches in youth sports, self-believing that their ‘knowledge’ of playing and competing automatically qualify them to coach kids at the elementary, middle school and teen age levels (AAU)…Little do these coaches realize that they can’t coach basketball unless they teach the game (fundamentals, rules and habits) first…That’s where our program comes in as a mentor of sorts…I really enjoy the challenges associated with these annual trainings…Coach Ernie Woods, former NW college basketball icon, assists me as well…Together, we have provided a genuine template for volunteer coaches to draw from, and hopefully implement with their respective teams…Fingers crossed every season…

Now for my annual “Gem from the Gym” for parents, kids and players alike…

I made this statement awhile ago, during an interview with� a sports journalist in Canada during a break in one of my clinics/camps...I share this with all of you this Holiday Season, as a reminder about what you do have control over when you're on any team, especially basketball...Merry Christmas, Happy New ALL Year and thank you for your commitment each time we train, each application on our repetitive moves, and more importantly, thank your parents for me, please, for their trust and confidence that I am helping you become more knowledgeable and efficient as a Team Player...Being a Leader is a Feeder...being negative is Destructive...Teach yourself how to be Constructive and Productive...Coach tom

"I think every player on any team has the potential to be "great"...Great as a sub...great as a backup Point, Post, Forward or an end of the bench player who never gets to play but is invaluable to his/her team in practice because of their hustle and effort plays...Great as role player...Great as a Team Player...Great in the locker room...Great in the community, volunteering to help where help is needed...Great at making "value decisions" socially...Great in school...Great with fellow students and fans and in the stands." tn 2004

Part II of my Presence to all players at any level in basketball and sports in general…This reflection is to, hopefully, disarm the angst and disappointment that may be affecting parents, kids playing on a team now, and the overall emotions attached to being on a basketball team today…

As a Starter: This position on a basketball team is one that is earned a couple of different ways today: one is that if you possess innate basketball skills or a unique skills set (ballhandling razzle dazzles; shooting prowess; pogo stick jumping ability; elongated length not present in other teammates, etc.), then there’s a pretty good chance that you will be given the chance to shine…Now “given” this anointing, one has to bring his/her skills set everyday in practice and/or games, less the coaches lose confidence in your abilities and then you lose your self confidence and joy of playing, which means it is NOW no longer fun to lace up the sneakers, put on the gear and get out on the court…I do NOT know ANY participant and/or player in organized basketball that has not experienced the personal feelings and thoughts to “quit” playing at one time or another because of not having fun anymore with the game…Really, it has been this way for many many years and the many many tears of all players…This I know about basketball: it is an activity of adversity personified, daily, but in reality, diversified in so many facets of the game itself: turnovers, air balls, missed layups, missed FTs, poor defense, injury, social issues off the court, insecurity about playing in front of others, etc…So, when it comes to being a “starter” in high school, you enter a rare strata of “expectations and revelations” in basketball at ANY level: Sadistic Statistics overtake the reality of being a Team Player and just playing to continue getting better and helping the team succeed…In other words, for some reason, parents and kids think that “if” they start they NEED to SCORE POINTS and START if the opportunity is going to evolve towards the “next” level of competition and maybe, just maybe a scholarship that would reward the parents for the monetary “investment” in summer AAU tournaments and playing interstate games…The “rare strata” is definitely an eye opener to expectant Dads and Moms, trust me…and the kids themselves…Let me explain the “why” here…

IF a player in high school is NOT playing to the level of expectation (coach/parents), AND the team is losing, well, it is known as the “deep freeze” in basketball jargon: kids go mute, because of frustration…parents go batty wanting “answers” from their son/daughter, coach, other parents…and coaches having self doubts about skills of player(s) and second guessing “choice” of player(s) starting…Conversely, the kids on teams that ARE winning early, and everyone happy, to a point, STILL have an expectant level of results, thus “persecuting” their minds and psyche over and over again daily, until they have a “better” sadistic statistic (points, points, points…assists, assists, assists…rebounds, rebounds, rebounds…) that they can “sleep” on…Sounds crazy doesn’t it? It IS!! What we all need to do PRIOR to any season is sit down, independent of one another (parents, kids and even coaches), and write down 5 “expectations” of what each envisions for the upcoming season…Then, on the other side of the paper, write down the “revelations” that you fear most with your expectations…Example: starting or not…scoring or not…lots of playing time or not…better than others or not…adversity and not overcoming same…When you complete this exercise, you really and truly now “enter” a strata level of reality, that is healthy to you and your sportslife son/daughter that will evolve over the course of 3 parts to the season: the beginning, the middle and the end…Try it, it’s not too late…

IF you are a Substitute, active off the bench: this is a critical position in basketball, much like soccer, in that one HAS to be ready to perform on a moment’s notice: “teammate gets hurt…teammate starts off poorly…teammate not ready for prime time…teammate not playing defense…teammate playing selfishly…teammate not bringing leadership…teammate not executing…”…Substitute “teammate” for “Starter” and now you understand how very very important the “Sub” becomes to every team…This I know well: NO TEAM HAS 5 PLAYERS WHO PLAY EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY GAME AND PLAYS PERFECTLY…Do you know such a player? If so, please contact me directly…So, back to the “Sub” role: YOU ARE THE GLUE to any team’s success…You have the responsibility to be like a Fireman when you hear your name called, and the Fireman hears the bell for a call of action: respond, adrenalin rushing like a Winter River’s runoff, KNOWING exactly what the team NEEDS from you at that point in the game…HELP…Never ever take your position on any team lightly, EVER…If your best role on your team is to come off the bench to “spark” the team on Defense and Offense with your intelligence, skills set, best effort, well so be it: be the best freakin Team Player that ALL YOUR TEAMMATES and Coaches and parents could ever imagine or observe…I LOVE Subs, Bench Players, Role Players off the bench, Backups, you name it, whatever you want to call them, THEY ROCK!!! Parents understand this: Coaches in high school sometimes LOSE sight of player development, and will inevitably “pigeon-hole” your son/daughter because they’ve seen them at an early age in the program and unless they grow to 6’5” or above, will continue to pigeon hole them UNLIKE a college coach who evaluates high school talent this way: “intelligence on the court and off…skills set…player understands ROLE on team…has innate Team Player skills…integral part of team’s success…listens in timeouts as a Starter or “sitter”on bench…”, and there are other elements that college coaches take mental notes on, believe me…So, keeping this “pigeon-hole” mentality in place and your mind’s eye, you will now understand why I am not so supportive of AAU high school select ball, when in fact attending any college basketball camp during the summer months will be more beneficial to helping your son/daughter “see” firsthand and listen closely to “what” a college coach looks for, remembers about what he/she sees at THEIR camps regarding each player’s participation, and ultimately build on one’s confidence level when they return to their respective school programs…Booohlyah…now we’re gettin somewhere!! Okay, so now that we have “discovered” the all important role and position of the “Sub”, I think it’s safe to say that ol coach here has “tweaked” the egos and psyches of both parents and kids…oooops, maybe even coaches too, if they have continued to read on here…very few have the kahonees to do such, which doesn’t bother me in the least…I’m about helping parents and their student athletes at this point in my sportslife…

The “No Play Day” Sub on every team: This role player is really an important asset to each team as well…as long as they understand and accept this role without malice or disgruntled feelings towards coaches, teammates and parents…Every team has 1-2 players who may never wash their uniforms after a game or games…They don’t mind, they’re happy to be a part of the team and do a GREAT job supporting each teammate along the way…Their role is defined earlyon in high school basketball: they are limited in their skills set compared to others they practice during the season…They invariably get “pigeon-holed” by a coach this way: “he/she is limited, won’t PLAY at the next level, anyway, BUT has been in program for last 6 years (feeder program included)…”…The most important fact here is this: usually these players have decided AFTER they get their license to drive and have the privileges of driving a car of their own, their commitment and focus changes dramatically>they no longer want to put the time in to improving their skills set, strength and conditioning and establishing attainable goals…It is a phenomena of sorts, that is natural and expected at the interscholastic level, sometimes to the extreme disappointment of their parent(s), and in that demise, you immediately see the parent separate from other parents’ interests in the team’s season, success or not, just a quiet separation from expectation…What a shame…for the student athlete, because they decided to make a choice as to what was more important at that time in their life (structure of team skills development) and their parents (“I can’t believe I spent all that money on AAU ball when they were in the 7th, 8th and first two years of high school…”)…Do you see any similarities in my examples here, as a parent of a starter…a Sub…and a non-descript team member? This much I do know: without these team players on the bench encouraging their teammates’ efforts and supporting them during the game, on the court and when they come off, basketball would be a sorry example of what a Team Sport should be…

Take care, Happy Holidays to each and every one of my friends in this wonderful world of family sportslife today…Much love, Coach tom

Seattle, May 2nd...I have returned home via Korea and Canada today, happily accepting the itinerary that brought me home to the NW once again...I enjoyed immensely the last 3 plus weeks in the Far East of Russia, especially the last city on my clinics' visits...We spent 9 days in Yakutia, the Consul General, Mr. Tom Armbruster, his wife, Kathy, and Jenya, the Russian National who works in the State Department with Mr. Armbruster...

Yakutia, Capital City of Yakutsk, largest State in Russian Territories...Population: 250,000...Ethnic Origin: Eskimo...Language: Yakutsk, native tongue, and Russian...Resources: 2nd leading Diamond mining producer in the World (25% of the World's diamonds produced here); Gold, Silver and Oil are the largest producing minerals and fossil fuel in Russia...By the way, this territory has the largest collection of Fossil Tusks in the World...The Woolie Mammoths are originally from this area, meaning the indigenous people of Yakutsk have more knowledge and experience than most educated anthropologists (as to "where" to fine the bones, etc...)...Food Staple: Fish, fresh, naturally frozen and then eaten the same way, tasty too, I might add...potatoes, small spuds, but tasty tatters for sure...Weather: it was sunny for 8 out of 9 nine days, only being cloudy when I left on day nine...It was around 55-60 degrees, and in the evening, a little cooler in the evening, low 40's...Winter? Get ready for this: -70 F!!! That's right, MINUS 70 degrees Fahrenheit!! Imagine those wintry days and evenings...I can't even imagine, shucks, when I was in Changchun, China, last year, coaching in the CBA, the coldest I believe, it was close to 20 below there several times in the evening...so cold that my bones STILL remember, and funny thing was, when I heard about the "-70" my bones reverberated the same recall of anything minus Fahrenheit!! Remember, this area is known as the Perma Frost topography in the Far East of Russia...General Impression: the most wonderful culture I have ever encountered...you would not believe the warm smiles, shining countenance and hospitality of these indigenous people...truly amazing, they love life, culture and their Families very much...their rich history as a proud people and culture is intact and will be for many many years to come...

Before I begin my recount of this trip leg and clinics, I'm going to give you some ideas on the City of Yakutia and their highways also...and life as I saw it...

Business Opportunities:���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� a) Car Wash 4 months out of the year...every car, and I mean every vehicle is dirty, one because of the snow melt, and also because of the perma frost warming up on the surface, meaning lots of puddles, dirty streets and roads...

b) Shock absorbers and Springs shop: the chuckhole "capital" of the world is best described this way: every three feet there is a chuckhole, some deep, some not so, some with water (the real dangerous ones if traveling fast) and some not...the demanding affect on any vehicle though are the constant impacts to the frame of each vehicle, big and small, as they travel through and around this city...They never need to "post" the Speed Limit anywhere in this city, mainly because the chuckholes maintain an average speed of 20 or below...There are NO lowriders in this city, unless they're operating on low tires inflation...

c) Les Schwab Tires: now this business would never lose customers...even though most of the miles are driven in town and surrounding area, the constant pounding of dancing treads upon chuckhole after chuckhole, well you can only imagine this "Guaranty" goes by "Number of Chuckholes Visited" and not "mileage"...I saw more outside "blister" or "bubble" size bulges on front and back tires, I couldn't believe it...I guess they continue to drive the car under these conditions until they can't...

d) Sneakers and Boots Store: for sure, as you won't sell flip flops or sandals here...I think most of the people can hardly wait to put on their sneakers again and get out of the wool inserts of their boots from Winter and early Spring weather...Nine Inch heels or 4" for that matter need not be imported, although I did hear a couple in the lobby of the hotel where I was staying...I figured that women bring a change of shoes to public places, rotate from boots to heels and hear their toes sing in unison: "free at last...free at last..."...

Crimes you won't see in Yakutia:�������������������������������������������������������������������������������� a) Purse Snatchers...Why? Because they would end up spraining an ankle trying to run away and cross any street that has chuckholes...

b) Bank Heists: with the average speed of vehicles 20mph, and the traffic lights not synchronized, any perp and his accomplice who is waiting in a car for the getaway, well, you can only imagine how helpless they would be 2 minutes after the crime...

c) Bike Stealing: unless you have a pair of pants that are fanny-packed with Condor Feathers from three dozen condors, you would...if a young man, quickly realizes that the effects of hitting, rolling and avoiding chuckholes is hazardous to your manhood, you might consider trying out for the choir because if you were a soprano before your crime, you became a canary voice afterwards...thus, there aren't many bikes in town here...

d) Pickpockets: when you have to dress with several layers of clothes for 9 months out of the year, you've got no shot at trying to lift anyone's wallet here...

e) Auto Thefts: most people leave their vehicles running, to keep them warm inside and the engine warm as well, and their doors locked as well...seems everyone knows each other, and if someone were to "take" a vehicle, they would be caught soon enough by the pockmarked sideroads and traffic congestion on the main thoroughfare...�

Where to begin: Chuckles...upon arrival by Yakutia Airlines, we arrived in the late afternoon, and were greeted by the local VIPs from the State Government's Office and other representatives that were with the Youth Sports Ministry Department...Okay, you gotta picture this scenario, a "newell classic" for sure...We taxi to the tarmac area, waiting, as there is no "ramp" for unloading, and a tractor hooks up to the front landing gear and backs our aircraft into a holding area...A stewardess comes to me, Tom Armbruster and his wife, and tells him in Russian (he speaks fluent Russian) and says we are to depart the packed plane first...Hmmm, I think to myself, this is interesting, being treated as VIPs in a foreign land, Russia, no less...So, Tom and his wife line up first, Jenya, translator, second, and me last...I had my hat on, as the wind was blowing a little bit, and I didn't want to mess up my hair for the cameras below...So, the first three step off the plane, then myself and LOW and behold, I hit my head on the door entry of the plane, so hard that the stewardesses caught me from behind, and I� soon saw a species of birds flying birds in my semi conscious state that I've never seen before, and thought "wow, this city has some strange looking birds...", until I realized that I had my "bell" rung...As I regained my unstable balance thanks to a couple of Russian stewardesses, I look out from the top of the portable ramp and see Policemen with bullet proof vests on holding what looks like Uzzis...a Brinks Van...a couple of more unmarked vans, and then several people below shaking the hands of Tom, his wife and Jenya...I slowly walk down the steps and still groggy, figure out that we must have some "security" arranged for our visit, and the VIPs that are greeting us must be the "ones" getting such protection...Wrong! It turns out that the plane was carrying a whole lotta of Rubles, not Rubies, and the Brinks Guards were there to unload and carefully guard the transport to the local bank...Whew, that was a relief...After meeting the luminaries on the tarmac, we were taken by private vans to our hotel, the Hotel Tyginn...Out of 5 Stars, I give it a Four Star for sure...Great rooms, service and restaurant...

Official Dinner: upon checking in, we had 15 mins. to "unwind" and walk next door to a very nice restaurant for an "Official" dinner with the Minister of Foreign Relations, Minister of Foreign Business and Development and a woman named, Anastasia, a Yakutsk Native, who lived in Fairbanks for 10 years, understood and spoke English very well, and her position in government was with the North Forum Administration, that was working with the US and other countries on a global initiative that dealt with economic, education and environmental issues...The dinner was a traditional cuisine from this region: frozen white fish, caught in sub zero temperature, preserved as such when filleted; another white frozen fish, small cut squares, eaten frozen, with a couple of special sauces, and lastly the main course, which was choice of a horse I'm sure I bet on one day and lost at Emerald Downs (which I passed upon), or fish...I chose fish, and it had a great egg souffle' mushroom cover on top of it, and let me tell you: it was deeeeelicious!! I coulda eaten two of them, but this was an "Official" dinner and I didn't want to embarrass my country and our Hosts...but I would have if offered...The visit by our Consul General there, was very very timely, as they were so thankful and happy to have him and his wife accept their invitation to visit their city...Tom Armbruster is a tremendous Patriot, representing our Democracy and values so well in foreign lands...He made immediate friends and fans of this VIP group, and we haven't even begun our agendas yet...Needless to say, the first evening was an indication that we were going to have a grrrrrrrrrrrrreat experience here...

The Week in Yakutia: April 21, morning meeting at the Minister's Office with our Consul General and their Minister of Foreign Relations...this was an hour meeting and then we went off to meet the Minister of Sports, for a short meeting and lunch with him as well...Both meetings were with the purpose of "developing" future relationships and contacts for improving relations and programs for Yakutia...I was so well received by the Minister of Sports (and all the government people as a matter of fact), as he said that basketball was a fast growing activity and that "we need to teach our coaches better methods so they can teach the players..."...well, those that know me, know that was music to my ears, as I love to teach coaches how to leach kids and right away, before my first coaches clinic was to take place two hours from now, I knew that this trip was going to be fantastic...and it was...

Basketball Clinic #1: April 21, Afternoon...there were close to 200 men, women and kids in attendance for my first session...I was told that we would have anywhere between 60-150 coaches and thankfully there were only around 45 total, and then 30 when the program completed the next day (many coaches were working and took lunch at the same time as the first session and could not do same next day...)...The team I had for demonstration were high school boys, ages 15-18...Good group of kids...labeled one kid "Kobe" as he was more "noticeable" than others in an outspoken way, and yet lacked the overall skills to be recognized as a "Star" player, but I went ahead and asked him if I could call him "Kobe", and of course he said in perfect English: "YES!!"...His twin brother was more subdued/humble in our two days, whereas "Kobe" was always telling others what to do, even if it were/was wrong, and the players followed..."Kobe" did so many pushups for us, I think he became the strongest players in 7 hours plus of clinic time on the floor...He finally "got" the picture that there is one voice, the coach's, and that if any corrections are to be made, it is by the coaches only...We got along well, and he ended up following me around to other venues to listen to my instructions...Guess discipline has a way of "connecting" even with the most outspoken individuals...He and his teammates were terrific models and had a great time, or so they tell me...The coaches in attendance were very attentive and anxious to learn how to "teach" players the proper fundamentals and how to develop players skills...Evidently, I am the first foreign coach and/or domestic (Moscow Pro coaches) to visit Yakutia in many many years, and teach the coaches there about the game...We learned many new simple lessons today and the following session, that I knew this would be another great experience in a different Far East Russian city...I presented simple warmup drills with the ball that would empower the kids to practice on their own without a gym necessary, and the importance of always incorporating combination drills that would enhance their overall skills both on offense and defense...They understood well and hopefully will implement into their practice plans...Want to hear something crazy? They only play 10 games ALL SEASON!! Can you imagine? They practice over 275 hours on the court, excluding game times, and I couldn't believe it...When I heard this, I told them they were very lucky to have such an impact in a teaching environment to prepare their students for 10 examinations...They laughed but were curious as to why I would be so supportive of fewer games and more practice times...Basically what I stated to them was this: if you have more time on the court with your team, then the "formula" for developing your system has a better chance to succeed than not, that your fundamental disciplines on offense and defense will always stand strong and be the foundation towards the team's success...They thought otherwise until I explained the thought process of "look at soccer...look at track and field...look at swimming, wrestling, even the local orchestra, they perform only once a week in some cases, and practice very hard and very long in between, so why can't your players be prepared for the same competition on a weekly basis? Herein is where the problem arose...NBA games are televised weekly there, 3-4 times a week, and the kids and coaches see how many games are played there (USA) and how many are played in their nation's Premiere League (2-3 per week) and wish they could play more also...Told them to relax, as coaches, as the fewer games you play, the less grief you get from parents!! They all laughed at that one!! It's the same universally: Kids want to play, play, play...Coaches want to practice, practice, practice...Parents want to win, win, win...and Officials want to quit, quit, quit...

Shaman and Assistants Bless our visit to the next city over from Yakutia: Okay, there are 8 people in a Van traveling for an hour and a half to a very small city named, Ogulesk (spelling is most definitely incorrect, sorry about that)...Along the two lane paved road that was similar to an hour and a half roller coaster ride that was semi-level and made us all feel like two of the four wheels (left driver side wheel and rear passenger side wheel) on our Van were missing...We endured remarkably well, as the topography was similar to the wide open range area of Montana with mountains in the far distance...spectacular, actually...So, we're low flyin along this highway and heading up this long hill to the top of a ridge, tall pines on both sides of the road now, pretty I am saying to myself...Then we stop alongside a relatively new wood framed single story building with a parking lot...We park to the side of the road, and Sergey, representative of the Ministry of Foreign Relations and Business Development, informs us in perfect English (remember, he studied at Oxford at the age of 16): "this is the boundary of the next city we are visiting for the clinics, and this is a Visitor's Center and we have a ceremony that is being presented to us by a Shaman and his support staff...This was all news to Tom and myself, as we were "along for the ride" and of course accepted this treat gladly...The Shaman is dressed in a Bearskin Hat, Pelt is definitely an Indigenous Eskimo, sculpted features, narrow eyes that sparkled, strong hands and a wonderful smile...He lights a fire to a handful of small kindling pieces in a fire pit, and then begins to chant and raise his hand with the Horsehair-end baton to all of us standing before him...His aides were holding these beautiful Chorons (hand carved wood bowls that for centuries were used for milk and water to drink from...These chorons, by the way, were gifts to me by our Hosts while in Yakutsk, and each one is different in size and touch, what an incredible culture...Back to the Shaman, so he finishes his words of prayer to the Spirits in the Valley, asking them to "bless" our kindness for coming to share with "our" people, "bless" our travels safely, and then he brings forward the ritual of drinking from the Chorons, fermented horse milk and having fresh baked flat bread, shaped like a roll, but completely flat, but oh-so-good...It was a like the Catholic tradition of communion is the only way to describe this experience...Once we finished this ritual, he asked us to turn towards the Sun and raise our arms high to accept now the blessings from the Great Spirit and in their Yakutsk native tongue, chant with him...I chanted like I was part of Sha Na Na, let me tell you...The Sun was warm, not a cloud in the sky and the moment was beyond a Kodak capture...Incredible...

The "next" Cities for clinics: We turn off the main highway (similar to the N/S Highway in Colorado) and enter into a small city, the name again of which I cannot share at this time, but will later in life, I'm sure)...This appearance had Tom and Kathy visiting with teachers and local leaders as well as students in a High School classroom to discuss American Diplomacy, commerce and language arts with the people in attendance, while I was across the road in the local and only community gymnasium addressing coaches (20 and kids and parents)...This group was lively in that the kids we had on the court as models were both boys and girls, ages 12-18...They were so excited to have this foreign coach who used to be in the NBA come to there village (less than 5.000 people), which I found out later that most of the kids in the cities I visited went online and found my name and basketball life through Google.com...The amazing "links" in life today that brings the worlds apart together...We were here for an hour and a half and then on to the next village...We arrive on the outskirts of the city limits about 45 mins. later, and again we pull off to the side of the road as there is a delegation awaiting our arrival...This time there is a Princess ('cause that's the way she was dressed: like a Princess), and she has a Choron with milk in it and a large loaf of bread that I will tell you now is BETTER than any San Francisco Sourdough that I've ever had, and I know my sourdough in the world of breads...The Mayor is in the group and he welcomes us as did is wife, and we each take a sip and break off a piece of bread and the "Official Welcome to our City" is on...The Mayor is Anglo in appearance, and a Yakutian resident, not your typical Indigenous Eskimo that is so prevalent in the Territory...We get back into the Van and Kathy Armbruster comments to me about how "good was that bread!!"...? I told her it may have been the best I've ever had, and Sergey must have overheard our comments because the next thing I know, we're in the Van and the bread is in my lap and we're encouraged to partake (gladly for sure)...That bread had about as much a chance of not being consumed by everyone in the Van as a hungry catfish finding a juicy worm that fell into a lake...This city, and please, forgive me on the name, I misplaced my itinerary and can't find the English translation of this city, so bear with me...The main resource coming out of this city is the gravel and concrete "pit" yards...It is a very small city by Yakutia comparison (population 10,000+/-)...the roads here are well paved (and rightly so...) and I think a car warranty would be "safe" in this city on wheels, windshields and mufflers because of it...We all accompany the Mayor and his wife and a couple of other people to a Tunisian-owned restaurant in the city, relatively new (4-6 years old) and have a wonderful lunch together and receive gifts from his Honor for this epic visit by the Amerikansts...We leave for the gymnasium that is 5 minutes away, and has just been completed in only 9 months of construction...It is built upon the perma frost as well, and the gym level is up two stories...They did a great job on design, simplicity and providing a venue for their youth sports and development...The floor was even, the hoops I had concerns about only because the brackets that anchor into the wall from the backboard would not hold a suspended baby's crib, and I ain't talkin about Twins!! The rims were NOT breakaways and the high school boys team that I used in this clinic had a couple of players who were 6'5", and I'm sure anxious to "see" if they could finally dunk on this hoop...As I explained after the clinic to their Director of Youth Sports, "be careful with this attachment to the wall and not having breakaway rims (wondered how that was translated to Russian?), as there will be someone or others who will try to "dunk" and accidentally hang on the rim and their weight will cause this basket to collapse..."...He smiled and looked and it dawned on him, that "yes, he is right, we will have that problem..."...Fingers crossed for him and the poor kid that gets caught with the rim around his neck...

Clinic: I had about 16 players, all high school age boys, and they were terrific models to use as demonstrators...It was funny, because most of the kids in this remote village looked like they came right out of Bellevue, Washington: blond hair, blue eyes or hazel, tall and lanky...Found out that there's been a large contingent of immigrants from Germany, Holland and Finland that had sought employment in this city (construction), and these children are the offspring example of global migration that would surprise you in this region...There were about 10-12 coaches, and at least 80 boys and girls in attendance, all very attentive to our visit...I was amazed to see the number of hands raised when I asked the proverbial question: "how many watch the NBA on TV here..."...90% of them acknowledged "yes"...Now THAT blew me away...Why? Because if that is the only model of American hoops they see each year, I think they're seeing a glorified level of athleticism, individual play and attitudes that aren't necessarily common in our country and organized programs (MS, HS and Intercollegiate)...we were on the court for two hours and it sure went by fast...we worked on ballhandling drills and passing drills that the players and coaches could easily implement on their own...We also did a combination drill, where we had a defender moving his feet on a half court slide versus the ball handler who had to change his dribble and direction after two bounces...Huge success...Tom Armbruster helped me here with the kids and we wrapped it up well...The Mayor and Director thanked us and told us how much they appreciated our visit...Another wonderful day in hoops heaven...

The Yakutsk Presidential Library: On our return trip to Vladivostok, we stopped off at the Presidential Library, designed and built for a former Russian Federation President, Yeltsin and a famous Yakutsk Scientist, Nikolai ...The venue was well designed and the collection of memorabilia is fantastic: all original letters from leaders around the world and personal gifts from same...We spent an hour ther and it was well worth the "stop"...

The Yakutsk Zoo: Now this is a place that PETA would not hold their annual fundraisers...The gentleman whose vision it was and is today, was our host and led us on a 50 min. tour of the outdoor reserve...By our North American standards, this would probably rank somewhere between 1-3 out of 10 stars...Keep in mind, this is a work in progress and the director is doing his best to build and create a more attractive and stable environment for the Indigenous Yakutians to "call" their own...I saw Russian Wolves, Big Brown Bears with big brown claws, Razorbacks (2) that were about as ugleeeeee as ugly could be described in Webster's...then there were the Rudolphs without red noses, some pure white, some without racks, but large and beautiful all the same...Saw some leopards also that were bigger than kitties...I was taken aback by the end, but Kathy Armbruster told me that "this is really a work in progress,tom, and he has a terrific idea and mind to replicate what he has seen in America and other Zoo cities on the planet...

Return to Yakutia and Celebration of Victory Day and Soldiers Memorial: Okay, you will now know that I am nutz for sure: I PLAYED in a game with other Russian Men, uniforms and all, along with Tom Armbruster, Consul General, who was on other team...I was selected by my newest "best" friend, Sergei, whose two sons, Valentin and older brother, name slipping my mind (like many other things these days), attended a basketball camp for two hours the day before...Sergei talked me into playing in this event and I agreed ONLY if Tom Armbruster played as well...I figured we both would be on the same team and do "our" thing to best represent the two man game and teamwork...Wrong...We both were on opposite sides and the way we set up this whole appearance and playing was that we could only play in the first qtr., as we both had to attend a Ceremony at the Opera House an hour later...Good thing for the "other" cultural demands away from hoops...it saved my heinie for sure...The Game: Okay, so I have a uniform with number and of course it's Red and White...nice silk...haven't worn something like this in about 30 years...The only issue were the shorts felt like they were designed by Nate Robinson, as they went below my knees about 8"...I changed that immediately by double rolling the beltline seam over and bringing the bottoms right above my knees...I mean how can one play with shorts that feel like someone is "scratching" your shinbones as you walk and run?? Now I KNOW I'm really old school, right?�� So we start the game and I told Sergei that if he were to pass the ball to me in Post Position and everyone move off the pass, screening for one another and all, I'd find someone open and pass to them...This translation was loss� somewhere between Moscow and Yakutia, because after a missed shot they would immediately start passing me the ball to bring it down court and that meant that I would be really working "overtime" in this exhibition...After about 4X up and down the court on missed or made shots, I stop at halfcourt and bend over and grab the bottom front of my silkies to catch my breath and identify the "shooting stars and planets" that were now in my vision..."...one of the referees stopped to ask me if I was okay, to which I replied: "I'm fine thank you, do you have an extra whistle? As I could help you now better than I can play..."...He laughed...First time I've ever had an Official "laugh" with me on the court as a player or bench coach...Kodak moment for sure...And his English was very good...My "planetary-moment" pause subsided and I resumed my cardio exercise by getting into the game again, both ends...I played the middle on our 2-1-2 Zone and pretended I was somebody I wasn't: Intimidator, Exterminator, Eliminator...No, I ended up being a pretty good "pretender"...I rebounded the ball in front of me, put my hands up on defense when drives came down the paint and acted like I knew I what I was doing, playing with players who had NO CLUE who this Amerikansk dude was who spoke no Russian at all...Fortunately, Sergei was the quintessential teammate: he was the team leader and made the team roll at both ends...At the end of the first quarter we were up by 14 points I believe, Tom Armbruster played well, but was on the "short" team in a figurative sense: only 5 players until the last 2 mins. of the 1st Qtr., and then only one player above 6'1"...Whereas we started 4 players including myself that were 6'3" and above, no taller than 6'5"...At the end of the qtr. and saying goodbye to Sergei and teammates, and his lovely wife, Olga and the boys, Tom and I hustled to the Van to go back to the hotel and shower and change our clothes for the event at the Opera House...

The Opera House: how's this for an "experience" as a spectator: nonstop perspiring for two hours on my part!! Seriously, I hustled back to the hotel, cleaned up, changed and on the way to the Opera House, I started sweating more and more, not dizzy or anything, just basically overheated from the exhibition less than 25 mins. ago...Fortunately, this episode brought back immediate memories of yesteryear when I was a youngin and use to play for hours and afterwards would find myself still sweating like an Arkansas Sweat Hog, so this meant after 30 years, NOTHING had changed in my metabolism and post workout recovery...I just sat there and kept wiping the beads off my forehead and neck, smiling left and right and telling those around me "I'm fine, thank you..."...Finally, after awards were presented by the President of Yakutsk to Leaders in the Community, I stopped sweating...Glory! And then the Opera and Entertainment of Cultural Artists began...What a treat that was...Most of the Hall emptied upon the conclusion of the Awards ceremony, but we stayed and I'm really happy we did that...Young and old, musicians, choirs, singers and variety acts all demonstrated great talents and made the whole experience of that day even more special...And when the curtain dropped, it was the end to my trip to Yakutia that began 7 days earlier...But I still had two more clinics to do the next day: high school boys and girls program for Basketball coaches at the schools in the region there (about 30 coaches)...went extremely well...and then in the afternoon another camp for kids only, ages 9-14, boys...This is where Sergie's oldest son participated and did well...We had about 50 kids in that setting, and my assistants were 3 coaches who attended my clinics earlier at the beginning of my trip...How blessed was I to have them there and volunteer with me...They did a GREAT job at the shooting stations we set up, perfectly demonstrating to each boy the proper mechanics that they had been taught by Coach Newell to teach kids...It is in that model to follow that reaffirms in my heart and mind that we're succeeding in teaching coaches how to teach kids basketball...Glory!!

Return to Seoul and on to the USA: the next day, April 30th, I left for Seoul, Korea, and accompanying me on my drive to the airport from Vladivostok, was the State Department's Resident (Beijing) Psychiatrist, Dr. John Stennett...We soon became newest best friends, discussing our mutual interests in the Chinese culture and experiences there, and his upbringing and education...So we spent the next 5 hours talking about kids, life and the world...He is an intriguing person in his own right, and I know that our Ex-Pats who visit with him are very fortunate to have someone who can help them if ever the need arises...It's not easy for our fellow Americans to live abroad and conduct diplomatic relations when sometimes people in these different countries don't necessarily like us like green peas on a plate...Kudos to Dr. John...keep doing your great and wonderful works, Doc!!� I arrive in Seoul late at night, check into the Ramada Hotel, this time taking a TAXI and NO BUS that would drop me off at a Factory and tell me "this is Ramada"...I ended up meeting up with my former Host, Coach Chung, who is the former Men's and Women's Olympic Team coach from back in the 80's, and is now semi retired, still coaching on occasion in Japan, with the women's pro league over there...I wasn't sure if I was going to meet up with him or not, as he travels so much, but indeed I was able to speak to him...We ended up going to lunch nearby the hotel at a traditional-style Korean restaurant, which means that you sit with legs crossed OR slide them under the table, whatever is comfortable...His wife and one of his former National Women's Players joined us for lunch...wow, what a delight each course of lunch turned out to be: we only had 10 dishes, all fresh vegetables and tasty morsels that honestly, I couldn't tell you what it was, except it was very very good...Coach Chung asked me if I would have time to visit a Private High School for girls and do a clinic for the coaches there and players...I said "of course, I'd be happy to do this, Coach Chung...", and after lunch we were on our one hour drive to Seoul to the school and gym...

Korean Clinic: now keep in mind, this was not on my itinerary whatsoever, but when a friend/coach asks me "if" I could help him/her out, y'all know me well enough to understand how excited I was to share the game with them...We had a blast!! First off, we learned how to pass and cut and screen away better than they have been executing before, and of course I asked the coach if it were alright for me to revisit this simple fundamental, and she said "of course Coach tom..."...Anyway, this 3 person drill is an excellent Part Method exercise as it reinforces the fact that there are only 3 players involved in any half court play: The Passer/The Screener/The Receiver...each executed sequence is a discipline, from the correct pass to the Wing, to the Step Off and Screen Away to the Receiver stepping off and having a target to the Passer to receive the pass and now Jump Stop and Square Up for a shot attempt...When all of the kids rotate lines and learn the proper mechanics and disciplines from this Position Drill, we add a few more Offensive One on One moves and one can immediately see the improvement at each position...I am so happy the Head Coach was taking a video account of this clinic...Next we worked on Defensive Rebounding, as their coach told me that this is one of their biggest weaknesses...So we went 4 on 4 with me being the "shooter" with no Defender, and I saw right away what the problem was with her "top" 4 players/starters...they would WATCH the ball come off the rim FIRST and EXPECT someone else to REBOUND the ball, INSTEAD of anticipating the miss and getting the rebound themselves...The blockouts were pretty good for the most part, but the hesitation issue loomed as their nemesis in being consistent when it came to Defensive Rebounding skills...I have this saying, or perhaps someone else's, "There is no Hesitation in Anticipation"...From this drill I was asked by Coach Chung and the Head Coach of the girls team if I could introduce a Zone Offense vs. 2-3 Zone...well, I told them I have a simple Triangle Offense titled "Blue Stack High (www.Hooptactics.com)" that would really help them attach ANY and ALL half court zones...I introduced this without Defense in the beginning, slowly walking each player through the sequence and spacing areas of responsibilities, and then we put in 2 Defenders (on ball and on Post), then added another and finally all 5 Defenders...What we learned together was like painting by the numbers until finally the "artists" (players) began to free-stroke what they just learned...This was the BEST group of players at any level I've ever taught the Blue High Stack to that picked it up so quickly, and I attribute that to their outstanding Head Coach and her assistants...I later found out that this team was the #1 Girls team in Korean High Schools...What was the level of skills of these girls? They would be one of the Top 2 teams in the State of Washington 3-A...They're small overlall, but so quick and STRONG fundamentally in passing and ballhandling...very impressive...We finished the clinic, Coaches were thankful, happy as were the players and they all in English thanked me profusely...It was a very nice way to spend an off day in Seoul before the flight home on May 2nd...

Conclusion: Read a great book on this trip, Outliers by Malcom Gladwell...Great read and insightful reflections that help understand better the "world" we play in daily...The whole experience from beginning to end was an epic journey into cultures past, sports future presently and diplomacy at an unheralded level of respect and kindness...Wow...I thank Bridget Gersten, Dima, Jenya, Victor, Bear, Vlad (young translator in Yakutia, who spent a couple of years in Philly as an exchange student, helped me out alot during my stay in Yakutia), and of course, Tom Armbruster and his wife, Kathy...What a wonderful group of associates, co-workers and new friends that made this trip a complete success...I also want to give a "shoutout" to Lee Larson, The Larson Legacy, and a Clackamas, Happy Valley resident in Oregon, for his suggestions and support for Coaches Who Care, Intl. and our endeavors to teach coaches, parents and players about the game of basketball...Thank you very much...Excuse my "delay" in posting this blog entry so late upon my return, as I was waiting for the proper information regarding a couple of cities we visited in the Yakutsk Territory outside Yakutia...It is good to be home and in the gym again, doing what I enjoy the most: teaching kids in a gym about the game of basketball...Thanks for your patience with my musings and I hope you found it A-musing...Coach tom

Area Coaches Answer Parents and Student's Questions and Help Understand Athletics Today

Family SportsLife Today presents the fourth annual symposium "Expectations and Revelations: an Insight to the Process of Intercollegiate Recruiting".

The symposium will be held Saturday May 30, 2009, in the Assembly Room of Hec Ed Pavilion. Registration begins at 8:45 AM and the program runs from 9:00 to 12:00 PM.  Directions are available here.

Representatives from the following programs will participate in a panel discussion and answer question on the subject of identifying prospects and how the process begins towards recruiting a high school student athlete.  This program is for parents and kids at the Middle School and High School levels of interscholastic sports. The symposium is FREE and refreshments will be provided. Canned food donations for Northwest Harvest will be accepted.

Panelists will include representatives from the University of Washington, Seattle University, Seattle Pacific University, Northwest College, and St. Martins University.  Basketball, baseball, volleyball, and other sports will be represented.  Former athletes will also share their experience.

 

What's Next?

graduation hats What are the opportunities for college scholarships? How does the college recruitment process work? What if my son or daughter is not an athletic superstar? What options are available beyond division-I schools?  What about post-graduate opportunities?

Panelists will include:

  • Keith Cooper, St. Martin's Men's Basketball coach
  • NW University, Kirkland, NAIA Men's Coach John VanDyke
  • Dave Wainhouse, Seattle U's Assistant Baseball Coach
  • UW Men's Asst. Coach in basketball, Paul Fortier
  • representative from Seattle U's Men's basketball
  • Al Mustante, co-author of "Keep Playing!  The Six Step Game Plan"
  • Coach Barry Mestel, President of Winning Ways, Orlando, Florida

 SymposiumSymposiumSymposium

Special Thanks

  • This program is made possible by the following Community Support Programs:
  • University of Washington, Intercollegiate Athletics
  • Seattle Pacific University, Intercollegiate Athletics 
  • Seattle Sports Advisory Council
  • Coaches Who Care, Intl.
  • The Ram Restaurants 
  • FamilySportsLifeToday.com
  • All Panelists and Testimonials by former Student Athletes  

Seattle UniversityUniversity of WashingtonSt. MartinsSeattle Pacific University

About Family SportsLife Today
FamilySportsLifeToday
was founded in 2006 by former NBA Coach Tom Newell, high school Coach Guy Perry, and technologist Jay Arnold. FamilySportsLifeToday.com is dedicated to assisting volunteer coaches, parents and participants develop better teaching models and motivational methods, bringing families to improve the dynamic of the youth sports experience. FSLT provides Internet radio podcasts, news articles, documents and resources for youth coaches, parents and players at http://www.FamilySportsLifeToday.com/

FamilySportsLifeToday organized the first televised basketball game with hoops raised to 11-feet in June 2007, kicking off a national discussion on the state of professional basketball. See http://www.FamilySportsLifeToday.com/ForLoveOfGame

About Coach Tom Newell
Tom Newell was the first NBA coach to coach a Chinese Basketball Association team, the Jilin Northeast Tigers in 2007-2008.  Coach Newell blogged about the experience at http://www.FamilySportsLifeToday.com/blogs/tigers  Previously, Newell was an Assistant Coach for the Seattle Supersonics, Director of Player Personnel for the Indiana Pacers, and Scout for the Golden State Warriors.  He also was an Assistant Coach for the WNBA's Portland Fire. 

Tuesday Evening, April 21...Well, finished the clinics here in Vladivostok in fine fashion again as the coaches were very appreciative once again for Coach tom's visit ala Lee Larson, former Clackamas Girls Basketball Association Volunteer coach (Oregon)...We wrapped up this afternoon's program with an observation of a high school basketball tournament in the gym where we held our clinics the day before and earlier in the morning...We finished the morning program with an assignment: what to look for when "scouting" a team...I presented as suggestions examples of how a coach could assess the strengths and weaknesses of an opponent by first watching how serious or not the teams were in warmups...Were they making their layups, shooting more 3's than game shots in the offense, shooting FTs, focused, serious, etc.? Then when the game begins, what type of defense are both teams employing out there, and what 2 players are the "feature" players in both teams' offense, because most teams have "only" two legitimate scorers in high school, universally, unless of course it's a powerhouse/stacked high school team...Next we discussed how the players come off the court and where they sit on the bench: close to the coaches so they can hear what he's thinking, saying and knowing that at some point the coach WILL put him back into the game...or...does he retreat with shoulders shrugged, slowly stepping towards the end of the bench? You see, I have this theory, that ALL players who demonstrate a selfish attitude when substituted and CHOOSE to act out before God, Flag, Cheerleaders, Mom, Dad and Grandparents that "woe is me, I'm NOT playing now and I don't like it...", they are about as ready to go back into a game like a cooked turkey tryin to fly out of the pot...No way, Jose', will ANY player who displays this type of attitude has any chance to redeem himself or herself when they make the Team Game of basketball personal...Give me 10 kids who cheer for one another, are eager to encourage their teammate when he or she is struggling and the coach is focused on the game and forgets to "touch" the player with a kind word or pat on the back to absolve any guilt the player might feel at the time...Now I know there are high school coaches out there who would disagree with me about that last statement, but the fact is, KIDS are KIDS and they NEED to be reinforced with positive constructive comments, NOT dirty looks or discouraging comments that finish the competitive courage of the player for the rest of the game...It's the same EVERYWHERE in the world of amateur sports, trust me, I've seen enough games to comment from experience...On to the game...

The game: One team is from Blagoveshenk (where I took the train for 72 hours roundtrip) and now they too were on that same schedule TO Vladivostok...the other team was from Harbansk, about halfway between Blago and Vladivostok...So, you have one team that took a day and half to get here, and the other team 18hrs...NOW this should be an interesting "warmup" to watch, as they both arrived on Sunday evening, they could have even been on our train...Anyway, I missed the warmups due to an interview I had to do but was able to "catch" the opening tip and watch the next 4 qtrs...Evidently, Blago was not ready to play prime time as they could not make their layups early or late in the first half, plus they had no answer for a very very talented 15yr. old 6'5" Brockman-Halogen type athlete...Imagine watching a kid who plays both ends of the court with the heart and passion of Jon Brockman and KNOWS how to dominate with a simple rebound outlet downcourt pass for a layup; has an incredible first step off an upfake on a jumper that would make any Radar Gun on WSP (Wa. State Patrol) pitch at such a high level you'd think he was speeding INSIDE a gym...yeah, that impressive...I was so intrigued by his play after 5 mins. I told Victor, my translator, that this young player has a chance to be very special someday...Anyway, all the "bad" things that you cringe at when watching a poor team struggle which Blago was doing here before us, were unfolding play after play, missed layups, no transition defense, poorer half court execution on offense and defense, etc...and NO, the two coaches of this high school team DID NOT attend my clinic last week in Blago...to bad, we coulda helped them a lil bit, I think...Back to the young Kirilenko-motor player from Harbansk: I just had to meet this kid after they won by 30...and I did...and he speaks English very well after studying it for the last 5 years...he just turned 15 last month...Anyway, his coach, a volunteer of 27 years experience, and a veteran youth coach who developed two players for Russia's National Men's Team, attended both days of my clinics here in Vlad, and we became "newest" best friends...Little did I know how well a model of coach he was until watching him in action...very positive, played all his players throughout the game, and generally demonstrated a demeanor that would inspire any level player...

Clinics Wrapup: so we met after the game and discussed what we saw and all agreed that the other team could not stop nor have an answer for the talented Big Player from Harbansk...We discussed how timeouts have to be towards making adjustments and not finger pointing as was the case with the other team's players and coaches, frustrated for sure, but worse was the dejected, downtrodden body language as each player yearned for the last seat at the end of the bench and mind you this bench has 20 chairs!! Visualize 2 coaches sitting close to the Scorer's Table and then about 12 chairs separating them from their players...yeah, THAT bad...The conclusion was the other team DID NOT prepare even in warmups, as they missed layups there and acted tired already BEFORE the tipoff...Yikes!! We then watched a DVD production that Lee Larson produced through his foundation a couple of years ago when I accompanied him on a humanitarian basketball clinic in the Northern Highlands of Guatemala, San Marcos de Atitlan...I wanted the coaches to see how in other parts of the world how coaches are taught, how young players play and how much fun both players and coaches have when involved in an activity such as basketball...It was an interesting response by the coaches, as they could not believe how happy the players appeared and how they just kept playing through airballs, turnovers, no complaining or making excuses or finger pointing and then finding out that the coaches there are also volunteers and had never had an NBA coach come to teach them also, similar to the Vladivostok coaches here...They wanted to know the "level" of talent there also, as they really couldn't tell one way or another...I told them that the players were mostly under 6' tall and the girls under 5'...they laughed at that and I told them it was true...they still laughed...so much for "leveling" with them...

Closing ceremony: gave the coaches certificates again and we exchanged hugs and handshakes and pleas to "come back Coach tom...", I told them I was, next Wednesday for a day...then back to Seattle...got a laugh out of that one...you know me...Anyway, I was pleased overall with what we accomplished and learned anew once again...I really really love these volunteer coaches, they truly wish to learn new drills for skills and proper teaching methods...I had one coach comment to me in front of the other coaches that he had  "never met a coach like me before in his life...that I have been to Moscow and attended coaches clinics there and outside Moscow, to learn from the best, yet they would keep their distance from us, never greeting us like you, or asking us for questions, caring about what we need for our teams...", and then asking me if all American coaches are like me, which I kindly replied not in the NBA today, although you might find several that would sign an autograph, but I'm not sure they would take the time to "ask" you how they could help you with your team...I said there are college coaches who would help them and gladly answer questions too...Guess the egos of being a "Pro" coach allows one to have a unseen "moat" around his persona...Bob Hill, former Sonics coach would NOT fit that category whatsoever, nor would George Karl, as they both enjoy discussing the game with coaches at any level...not surprising, they're both teachers...Pop from San Antone might also take the time and Larry Brown also...D'Antoni also I believe...Nate Mac too if asked...so I guess that leaves about 25 coaches left who may not take the time...I challenge ANY and ALL NBA coaches to forget their itineraries when doing international clinics and literally "sit" with the coaches and listen to their questions as opposed to teaching without listening...just a suggestion...

Piano Concerto later that evening: well, I just experienced a Vladivostok cultural happening: a Moscow Philharmonic Conductor who also moonlights in his hometown as a Concerto Pianist...He lives in Vladivostok in the "off season" and plays on occasion when he is available...what a Master he is...Michail Aekadyev...he is probably in his late 50's, but let me tell you this: he is a MASTER!! Wow...he gave us Bach, Lidst and Taichovsky...and let me tell you, I don't know what a C-Minor is when it comes to music, but I gave Mikey an A-Plus for his effort and demonstration...Wow!! Plus he got enough flowers from local fans to open a Florist for a week, and enough kisses from adoring females that would make Hugh Hefner jealous...I mean this gentleman has such a graceful hands coordination on the keys that I marveled continuously in awe...Shucks, I have a hard enough time trying to play Jingle Bells for my Grandson on a piano...As I watched him, and thought about how he has "arrived" in his career, being a Maestro in one of the World's most famous Philharmonic Orchestra's, yet, he chooses to continue to "play" from his heart, sharing what he loves most, music...now THAT is passion and soul combined...I learned many lessons tonight being entertained by this talent...This all came about by the Consul General's office offering me a ticket to attend along with Avi Dede, Voice of America broadcaster visiting Vladivostok and another Far Eastern city on behalf of the State Department...He lives in Arlington, Virginia...

On to another Far Eastern Colder City: Yakutia...tomorrow evening I leave for Yakutia...one week of clinics there...Mr. Tom Armbruster and his wife, Kathy are joining me for this trip...Supposedly we'll have 60 volunteer youth coaches in attendance for the weeklong program...I am really excited about this next clinic, although I was told that it is still very very very cold there...Good thing I brought my Roooskee Bearhair hat...you know the ones that Krushev used to wear back in the day...I have a nice black one...fits well too...shucks I LOOK like a comrade now, what, with my goatee and all...Okay, I'm off to bed, it's after 1am again and I'm beginning to feel a little tired...thanks for taking the time to read my stories...all the best, have a safe week...Coach tom

Vancouver, Canada...April 11, 2009...Awaiting connecting flight to Incheon Airport, Seoul, Korea...Down time: 2 hours plus...What to dos: not much...

Flight Experience 11 hours later: Window seat on an Air Canada 767...Gentleman next to me was about as calm as a Raiders fan sitting in the middle of Seahawk Diehards at Quest Field...for 11 hours...Sleep deprivation non control has set it for sure...Little did I realize how small a Window seat can become with an overactive aisle person...

I was very very impressed with the Audio/Visual tech display screen that this aircraft had...Wow!! I mean it has EVEREETHANG!! Where else can you sit for 11+ hours and be thoroughly entertained before your very eyes...The plane arrived on schedule and safely and that is the keyword on this trip: safely...

Incheon, Seoul...I made a reservation online through Priceline.com, which has proven to be a pretty reliable resource for hotels and travel, I believe...So I am at the baggage claim, and the beginning of sleep deprivation is setting in...How do I know this? Simple: I'm trying to remember what my two bags look like that I packed...After watching the carousel go round and round like a Merry Go-round, it dawns on me that there's only couple of bags left by now and two have to be mine...Good deduction, Miss Patrick, my 5th Grade elementary teacher would have been proud of my logic...Now on to “getting” to my hotel for an overnight recuperation before the flight out on Monday morning to Vladivostok,Russia...

Outside Incheon Airport...after receiving information from a kind young Korean bi-lingual regarding where the Ramada Song Do Hotel is in Incheon, and she letting me know that the “easiest” is to take the public bus, I set off to the curbside and begin my adventure...She wrote down in Korean for me the name of the hotel and location, or so I thought...I get on the bus, smile a whole lot with the driver and give him my piece of hope for R & R...He looks at it, speaks to me in Korean and points out his window like “overthere?”...I and nod in agreement with “overthere”, a word more dangerous in geographical terms than nautical at this point in my mind...

Twenty minutes later, the Driver comes back, awakens me and motions to follow him as I have arrived to my destination...I look out the window and all I see is a Factory that has an SK sign on the entrance, international flags and a whole lot of security guards with holsters and Glocks on their hips...thinking to myself: “...hmmm, the Ramada really takes care of its Guests...”...I point to the Driver and he smiles, nods and points to “overthere” as my point of arrival to the destination...Smiles and pointing should never be considered an affirmative action towards correctness when one or both parties have no clue where they are, what they're doing and what to expect should the location be wrong...which this was...

I roll down the entry towards the Security Guards and one looks at me, stops and calls for backup (yes, I do KNOW how to interpret 'voice inflections' very well)...His partner appears from an office and I say hello to both and the latter says “hello” back...I pull out my Priceline.com confirmation, all in English and think for sure, he 'knows' English because he smiled and said hello back...Wrong...He looks at the paper, gets on his walkie talkie and about 3 minutes later, anoter officer appears out of a tanned Hyundai Security SUV...He obviously is the Boss, Supe, Chief, you name him, that's what he is: in charge...He shakes his head, points out towards the main thoroughfare and says something to the gentleman who was trying to help me that I can only interpret: “overthere...get him overthere...”...And “overthere” I followed, not having a freakin clue if I would end up “underthere” after being “overthere”...I follow the young Lt. back out onto the busy street and he is now going to hail me a Taxi to take me from his “SK Factory” compound to the “SK Ramada Hotel in SongDo District”...overthere, I'm sure...

A Taxi pulls over, conversation between the Security person and Female Taxi Driver begins and five minutes later I am encouraged to get into the back seat and through smiles and finger directions, realize that I am on my way again...I was really encouraged when I noticed on the back window of this Taxi a sticker that read: “Professional Women Drivers Association” member in ENGLISH, which I must confess is the most incredible 'order' of acknowledgement for any American male/tourist in any foreign country...Now I know why my late Father was impressed with the Koreans and how they drive...

30 minutes later the Driver pulls up to the Ramada, almost two and half hours AFTER I arrive in Korea...I am so excited...a room, a shower, a bed, a time to relax after 17 hours of travel...I get to my room and it was perfect...I was hungry yet more tired than famished at this point, so I turn on the TV to see what programs they have in English...They have CNN, ESPN and a host of other international programs as well as their domestic...I lay back and now it is Korean time 7:30pm and I didn't awaken again until 3:15am Monday morning, Easter Sunday in America...I was full of energy once again, and made some complimentary room coffee and surfed through the TV stations to find the Masters LIVE...Wow!! I proceeded to witness Tiger and Phil Mickelson play a round of golf that would make any non-golfer understand how difficult it is to focus and concentrate on taking a long shaft with a abnormal head on the end and swing down and through on a ball either on a prop (tee) or laying on the grass...So, for the next 3 hours I watched the Masters in Korea from my TV...Great moment in sports TV...

Vladivostok, Russia, Monday afternoon arrival...2:30pm...Two hours ahead of Korean time...I am met at the airport by Dima, the Russian Public Affairs person who works in the American Consul General's Office in Vladivostok...Dima is the principle person in charge of coordinating my program/clinics in Siberia on the Russian side, and Bridget Gersten, American Attache' who is Dima's Supervisor, the lead person arranging my itinerary and public appearances in cities, Universities and before the Press for interviews...Between the both of them, they have everything pretty well established, coordinated and arranged for my departure 9 hours later to Blagoveshenk, Russia via Trans Siberian Railways...I am immediately taken to Ms. Gersten's compound/house by Dima, as she will arrive in an hour from work to go over everything with me and make me comfortable before we leave for Blago...Ms. Gersten is on her last duty station obligation here in Vladivostok, as she and her husband will soon be relocated to the Consul General's Office in Bogota, Colombia for the next 4 years on assignment...She is very excited for the change of venue and opportunity to have her husband and herself working together in the same city...I am happy for her opportunities, and more impressed for her and her husband's act of patriotism abroad, representing all that is good about our Democracy and values as a very young country compared to the rest of the world...We owe them and others a tremendous amount of respect for their service...So, the next times you travel abroad, keep in mind the professional dedication and services we have empowered with individuals and couples who have chosen to serve our Nation globally and extend the model of our values and democracy and human rights to the Free World...Our State Department should be commended over and over again for their undying commitment to have emissaries abroad be an extension of all educated and well trained Americans serve on our behalf and make our future travels outside the USA safer and eventful...

Vladivostok Train Station: 11:45pm...”Bear” picks up Dima and myself from Bridget's house and transports us to the Train Station...It is cold, dark and I am thinking to myself: “self, not many people would ever understand NOR even consider what you are undertaking at this time, for the next 36 straight hours on the same train...”, but then again, we already “know” that I am a lil diffrnt...

Sleeper Car # 34-36 on Trans-Siberian Railways...ah, let's see, there is Dima and Victor (my first translator when I was in Vladivostok, Russia the year before) and myself sharing this 4 bunk bed compartment...Size? Imagine a bath a half room with two lower benches and two upper for sitting and sleeping purposes...for the next 36 hours...Imagine also this compartment is a walkin closet the size a small Rancher house's Master Bedroom closet...a 6X6X9' room with a sliding door for privacy...Pictures will follow, hopefully...

The sleep-through-the-night was uneventful at best, a rolling left to right, iron wheels upon iron rails evolving slowly, gaining momentum and I assumed speed, the couplings reminding me that we were continually attached to other cars attached to a locomotive somewhere a quarter of a mile ahead of our compartment...

Tuesday morning, sunrise and the beginning of an uneventful but illustrative panoramic topography of South Far East Russia...Desolate at best, a frozen tundra or perma frost perhaps, not much to describe other than it appears to be a rural, hard life that many people endure, generations upon generation, accepting fate as decree for existence in a predisposed life and culture for existence...No thank you...

Physically my back is as sore as doing a dozen squats with knees bent standing next to a wall for two minute intervals...the only difference is that I feel I have done 100 of these over the last 36 hours...We are approximately 1 hour out of Blagoveshenk right now, and Dima informs me that we will have the local TV station meeting us at the Station upon arrival for an impromptu interview, as I am the first American basketball coach to travel to their city to teach the game to their coaches and speak at the local university on sports and recreation from my experiences...I am little concerned because one, my hair is not combed, I have the breath of many buffaloes, and I need to get my bearings “right” regarding walking and riding once again...Numb and Numbmer, this word by the way is a “newellism” courtesy of Trans-Siberian Railways...and I am for sure “numbmer” than the day before...and I think to myself, Dumber...The latter because I realize I accepted this opportunity and experience to return to Vladivostok and the accompanying two other cities without “thinking” of the reality of travel and hardship of isolation (by train 72 hours roundtrip), but, I have been blessed by my acquaintances of both Dima and Victor, two wonderfully kind humans whom I consider “best” comrades now...Victor, by the way, visited me in Seattle on his way back to Vladivostok, last July, when he was returning from a business meeting in NYC then...I took him to my favorite Irish Bar on Queen Anne, Sully's, where he made immediate new friends in Marquess and Patrick, both co-owners of this fine establishment...There were others that he met there and who graciously accepted him into the fraternity of reputable notables of Sully's...

Okay, not sure when I will be sending this transmission out, but hopefully Jay Arnold, my compadre' and partner with Familysportslifetoday.com program, will cut and paste to our Blog...I will keep you up to date on the goings on and itinerary, which by the way, begins today, in the afternoon, after arriving in Blagoveshenk at 9:30am and commencing at 2pm on the local indoor gymnasium...

Less I forget: how would I describe 36 hours on a train? Hmmmm, it is similar to being a Dryer with a pair of Levis whose brass buttons rap against the wall of the dryer, without the heat on, prone, not fetal in position of rotations/circular motions...or like a riding in an old '56 Plymouth that has no rear springs and the only cushion is the seat you sit upon when hitting a rut in the road...or like a having a small sharp pepple in both shoes and you have to walk a mile before you can remove them...or like a window seat on the back of a dark bus with a driver who hasn't slept in 30 hours...I think now you get the visual...Welcome to Siberia...

The Mysteria of Hysterisa in Siberia for basketball...

Blagoveshenk, Russia...City Population 250,000 plus/minus...We were met at the Train Station by Yuri, one of the most incredible young coaches in basketball I've ever met...He was the Host and organizer of this program here, and did a tremendous job setting it up...I can't begin to express how impressed I was with his professionalism and organizational skills...Exceptional to say the least...The city itself has the largest streets/thoroughfare I've ever seen...Also, keep in mind, less than a quarter of mile across the Amur River is China, yes China...They have undertaken a “new” city construction development, one to rival their cross border neighbors in Blagoveschenk...The number of high rises and construction cranes is phenomenal, according to Yuri, who was born and raised in Blago, and attests to the fact that the “new” China is well on its way to “lure” tourists from the Motherland to their city...Presently, the river is still about 4” thick with an ice cover...Word is “maybe” next month it will melt enough whereby boats will be out on the water again...Hard to imagine or experience being in a city where in April it's still 20degrees outside during the day and colder at night...there is some leftover snowbanks, but melting a little bit more each day....

Hotel Drushav, Blago...What a nice room overlooking the river's bay and seeing China so close...The bed was not as comfortable as the furniture in this large suite, but it didn't matter, it was more comfortable than the sleeper cot on the train, trust me...Hotel breakfast, lunch and dinner was very very good...Simple, tasty (lots of chicken, fresh vegetables, fresh made rolls) and vanilla ice cream with a couple of peaches was a wonderful dessert...

Session One: this began 4 hours after arriving in Blago, approximately at 1:30pm on Wednesday afternoon...We began with a Press Conference at the venue where the coaches program took place, Pedalogical University of Blagoveshenk...Yuri is a teacher of Physical Science there (25 years now) and their team's coach...He has been the most successful coach in history of the school's program...I met him last year in Vladivostok when I made my first clinic there in February of '08...The Press Conference was very surprising to me, one, because there were 6 TV cameras and reporters as well as numerous newspaper journalists as well...Why? Evidently, I am the first Foreign Coach to visit their city and teach youth coaches (boys and girls, middle school and high school) in 30 years...And this includes their own coaches association where they have not had coaches come from Moscow to share their knowledge of the game with youth coaches here...30 years of no visiting coaches, neither domestic or foreign...Now you know why the big hype for my visit...it went very well...Also in attendance were the coaches who were going to attend our program as well as Professors from the University who were curious about this American coach who took a train from Vladivostok to their city to share his knowledge with local youth coaches...Guess you could say I was a “novelty” of sorts...Happy to oblige the curiousity...

Tom and his “funny guy” humor...I introduced to the coaches in attendance my “observations” of how I see a player today when evaluating them in practice and competitions...It's actually very simple: players are either a 30w...60w...90w...or Halogen...When I defined each level of wattage a player is ID'd, the Russian coaches laughed in unison...And I did this in our first 30 minutes together? Now I knew I had their interest and attention to this American coach whom they heard about from Yuri, the organizer, and they too were excited to see what they might learn about teaching players how to play the game the right way...

On court presentation: this followed one hour after the classroom program...How do I describe the court by which I am suppose to work upon? Imagine a very old warehouse, high ceiling, windows on the side walls, rising from a 4' level to 8' in height...no tint or shade by the way...Now to the floor surface...Imagine two inch planks, side by side, no tongue and groove, installed over 70 years ago, NEVER sanded or replacement boards to this day, painted over and over and over with lead based paint, some areas of the court with uneven planks (the better players I'm sure used these locations for wicked crossover moves, no doubt J); now to the sidelines: imagine a sideline that is 6” from the walls and the ENDline at least a foot and a half...Pictures will follow, trust me, I kid you not...and I haven't even LOOKED at the baskets yet...I was extremely careful and sensitive to my hosts, and Victor and Dima about commenting whatsoever on this court we were going to use for the next two and half days, not that I would, but I am sure they were wondering if I could even conduct the drills properly...I just marveled at the whole visual before me and how my late Father, Pete Newell would have had a wonderful chuckle about the court and sidelines...I can hear him telling me in his quiet quick humor: “tommy, that Coach must be a great defensive coach with Traps full court and on the sidelines throughout the game...!!”...He'd be right, because that's immediately what I thought about also...Okay, now raising my head and eyes towards the basket, it was an equally incredible basketball relic too...it was suspended and anchored to the brick walls, evidenced by years of bolts coming out of the wall hundreds of times I'm sure as the college students wanted to demonstrate their dunking skills as they evolved with the game over the years of new players on the school's teams...The plexiglass backboards were extremely clean and almost new, about two inches thick...the rims were breakaways...nets were new also...

Before I commenced on the court, I was told by Yuri that I had a team of 12 players to use as models...They ranged in age from 14-18 years of age...Their coach was also one of the attending coaches, which helped me make sure that if I needed to split up the teams to two half courts I had someone to “watch” them also...I'm introduced by Yuri to the team and coach, and it was as always a “new” experience for me in another foreign city, greeting and meeting new charges, new players who are wondering who this coach is that “wants” them on the floor when he is teaching...For the next two and half hours we had a fabulous time together, both attendees and players alike...And Victor did a magnificent job translating, I am so lucky to have such a patient, willing assistant trying to understand my humor, the keywords in basketballspeak and of course answering the questions that the coaches would invariably ask...Dima was the Camp photographer, and I am sure he has the pictures to illustrate my reflections in Blagoveschenk...

Sauna Visit after Day One...My body is tired, really tired from the 36 hours on the train, and 5 hours on my feet upon arrival...Victor informs me that Coach Yuri (Host) wishes to take us to the local Sauna Club, that it will be very relaxing...Well, I gotta tell you, I hear Sauna and immediately I'm thinking what you're thinking, so I hesitate a little bit, wanting to just get back to my hotel room, change clothes, jump into the shower and get some rest...but...I relented and did not want to offend Yuri and his kindness and accepted with Victor the invitation to “go to the Sauna...”...First off, I have never been to a Sauna, but have had friends who had one in their homes, etc., or used one at one of the NBA teams I use to coach with, but NEVER a Private Club sauna...until now...So, we arrive at this very well designed building, relatively new, and walk downstairs, me following my two comrades and thinking to myself, “newell, you big dummy, what did you agree to get yourself into NOW...?”...We open this door and there is a receptionist, a woman, mid 30's, hadn't missed a meal all winter, giving us each a plastic bag put our shoes in, and giving us each a pair of flip flops in exchange...THEN I am given a bouquet of dried birch leave branches...Not really sure what the heck this is all about until Yuri through Victor informs me “it's part of the Sauna experience in Russia...”...I immediately tell the woman through Victor, “thank you, but in my country when one receives flowers they're usually with blossoms and fresh cut...”...Well, you can only imagine the laughter that ensued from that comment...Now we proceed to the “change room”...By the way, we are given bags with towels, wash cloth and pajama-like shorts and wrap around top...I now ask the question: “ah, Victor, is this an ALL men's private club?”...he asked Yuri, and Yuri said “of course, this is the one place where women cannot bother a man when he wants to relax and go to the Sauna...”...What happens next was the most exhilarating, relaxing experience I would have ever imagined...We put on WOOL beanie (half inch thick!!) and walked into the Finnish Sauna (there are 4 types in this Club) and this has Eucalyptus emitting from the steam, and it was fabulous...there were a couple of other men in this sauna and they immediately wanted to know from Yuri “who is this Amerikansk?” in Blagoveshenk? Yuri explains who I am and where in the US I live and they were surprised that I would have come to their city, and now their sauna...All the while this dialogue is being exchanged I am breathing in fresh Eucalyptus and sweating beyond profusely, I am what is described as a “full on DRIP”...I think I lost 5 lbs. in that first sitting...Then we leave after 15 mins. in there and have a choice to jump into a very polar cold pool...a very hot pool or a semi warm pool that had a Hydroplane “jet” Jacuzzi that turned out to be my “best” friend to my back that night...After 5 mins of pool time, we then went into the “next” sauna, which was a Swedish HOT steambath, and it was here that I understood “why” the birch leaved bouquet was given to me...Yuri had soaked these leaves in an oak bucket of extremely hot water and let it simmer while we were in the first sauna, me not knowing what was about to ensue in the immediate future of my saunize experience...As we were getting ready to go into the Swedish sauna there was another sauna next to this one and a guy in there was standing on the bench and beating himself with the branches like he was a bad bad boy...I stopped and couldn't believe what I was witnessing...Victor then tells me that Yuri told him to tell me that we too will use the branches in the Swedish sauna also...This much I know: I ain't about to beat myself with branch leaves for no reason...but then again, I'm in Russia...So, we go into the Swedish room, and it is very very HOT, searing almost (now I know how Tuna must feel when seared...), and I sit up on the second row and it is really really hot, too hot, so Yuri tells me to move down to the first row, lay on my stomach and put my feet together and relax...Hah!! He then takes the leaves and proceeds for the next 10 mins. to beat the everlivin evil that may or must have been in my life for the last 10 years!! I mean it was unbelievable...the ball of my feet got smacked, up to my shoulder blades and I gotta tell you: it was an incredible feeling, the oil from the branch leaves came out, mixed with the perspiration and all, I could feel oils and other chemicals that shouldn't be in my system leaving at that point...Then we jumped into the polar pool for 20 seconds and then into the very very hot pool for 10 seconds and on into the semi warm pool...Trust me, it was the most exhilarating experience I could have ever imagined...Then one last sauna out of 4 (I told Yuri I had enough already), a conventional radiant sauna with heater elements on the side...that was probably the driest of them all and really didn't do much for me...Anyway, that was the Sauna experience in Blagoveshenk and one I won't soon forget...

Overview of Clinic Days 2-3: what a fabulous experience...We learned so much about teaching first and coaching second, it was really fun to see the enthusiasm of the coaches...We had coaches, men and women, who coach kids ages middle school and high school, all volunteers, educated in physical science, but not so much in the process of coaching a team, especially basketball...I sensed thatt our exchange would not soon be forgotten...They were excited to learn how to introduce the Triangle Offense and simple options that could evolve from this offense, as well as how to defend one on one on the perimeter and Post Play Defense, basketball methods that defined player development issues that they did not know how to address per se, until now...We went over warmup drills for skills, shooting drills, Disruptive Pressure Defense stations that teach disciplines as well as principles that can help a team be more successful in their matchups...

The Players as models: one player in particular stood out above them all, literally, and that was Timothy...he must be at least 6'9”, long armed and hands twice the size of mine (and I can palm a ball) and a GREAT eagerness and passion for the game...Timothy is only a young 18 year old, brought to Blagoveschenk from some outside Siberian small village by Yuri, given an opportunity to gain an education (high school and college) through his basketball experiences...He has only played hoops for two years, and let me tell you, NOW I truly understand when I remember reading about Olajuwon taking up basketball when he was only 16 years old in Nigeria...Timothy is the most natural “big” I've come across in my international travels in a long long time...He's a natural leader by his effort and example and his teammates look up to him as well, and NOT because he towers over them...I used him as model for our Post Defensive moves, � deny, Full Front, � push up baseline and he picked up on it so well and quickly, it was exciting for me to see how well he adapted...Next we learned the basic Post Play moves, beginning with the Jump Hook after stepping off and the counters that follow that sequence of read read attack plays...Afterwards, I sat down with him and Victor and asked him if he liked basketball and if ever thought about becoming a “great” player...His eyes opened wide and he said “of course, I want to play in the NBA someday...”, and he said that with a straight, serious countenance...I was NOT caught off guard whatsoever by his “vision” as he has dream to believe and realize someday and wants to develop beyond what anyone from his village, including his mother would have ever thought when she agreed to let him come to the big city for education and sport...I told him that he would have to work very very hard and that it would not be easy at all, and he nodded...I told him that he would have to make serious social choices in his life, off the court with the friendships he develops, leaving drugs and alcohol aside and focusing on one thing: self discipline...He looked me in the eye, and said “I know, I am doing that now...”...Clearly, I am sitting with a young man that may be in the NBA someday because he “sees” himself doing that...Wow...I asked him if he had any questions and he said, “I would like to have a drill that will help me with my left hand (he's right handed) and be just as good as my right hand around the basket...”...We went out onto the court and I proceeded to introduce him to the Mikan Right/Left hand step hook shot, which he picked up on right away for never having been taught this before...What a kid...what a GREAT potential...Wow!! I said goodbye, asked him one last question: “what kind of student are you...?”...To which he honestly replied and said “not as good as I should be, Coach...”...I told him that education is the balance to his dreams, that without applying himself towards school he could never realize his full potential as you can't always play basketball, and the lessons you learn in a classroom and reading a book will be more valuable than any game you score many points and get many rebounds...He then says, “I know I must do better in school and I will...”...I told him that he must study English next and that if he does well in school and English I will bring him to America for college...He was very excited and said he hopes that he can do that someday...Stay tuned...I am blessed beyond words to have this experience, Folks, and the blessings of my family's love and support for my endeavors...

Post Clinic Ceremony: on campus, in one of their classrooms...by the way, I didn't mention how “old” and dilapidated this university was did I? Let's put it this way: the EPA, FEMA, OHSHA, Fire Department and HEW department would collectively “shut” it down in a heartbeat...Trust me, it's that bad!! Yet, they don't complain, nor do they worry about whether or not they have an elevator to take them up 4 flights or lighting in the hallways to see where they're going, no they manage, more interested in receiving their education than complaining about something they have no control over anyway...I also by the way, met the President of this fine institution, right before our first session on the second day...He was very gracious and kind, and was very appreciative of my coming to teach coaches in his city...I also spoke to a class of his PE students and a teachers about our students and their PE classes and post graduate opportunities...It was all in all a great experience for each of us...

Friday night: back on the train again...aaaaaaaaaaaaarggggggggggghhhh!! I was NOT looking forward to this return trip, believe me...We left at 9:37pm, not 9:36 0r :38, 9:37, and this time I was having reservations about the return trip, only because my lower back was sore from standing and teaching the last two and half days...Yuri was so kind to take us to the railway station, what a great person...I met his son earlier in the day, a student at the university, and on his father's team...his name is Sergei...very shy, smiles a lot and speaks quiet English, and speaks it well...His Dad wouldn't let Victor translate, so Sergei and I got along great...Yuri also has a 12 year old boy that he says will be a multi sport athlete someday because he loves all sports...Somehow, I get the feeling he will indeed...

The Iron Horse going “backwards”...I fell asleep uncomfortably, and for the next several hours tossed and turned like a fish out of water tangled up in a fisherman's line...nothing worked, and my back ached...I guess it was around 9 when Victor, Dima and myself finally awakened to the rolling swayback of this Iron Horse and it was here that I realized I may be in for a long long ride, both mentally and physically...Fortunately, Victor and Dima were able to ask the Dining Car Hostess if I could sit in the car and operate my computer...she said no problem and I have been here for the last 9 hours, occasionally getting up to let the circulation begin again in my derriere...I know that you are wondering if the train this time is any better than the first ride...The compartment is the same size, although a little quieter...the car itself is completely full, as this is Easter Weekend (their Orthodox Easter Sunday is tomorrow) and I think many folks are going to visit relatives for the weekend...Anyway, the claustrophobic feeling of NO fresh air in the compartment was bothering me beyond description, and I was beginning to understand what Aleyxandr Solzhitzyn (sp) described about his Siberian “Gulag Archilepago” experience when he was a young dissident in this country...When you hear about Siberia and the hardships of life here: it's ALL TRUE...very true indeed...these rural life citizens have been living in a seasonal hell I'm sure for centuries, and yet they have their peace and quiet...yes, the winters are seriously cold and dreary, but very seldom do you hear them complain, at least I haven't...We, as a Nation are so blessed by our Democracy and system of Constitutional Rights...so blessed...

Get this: my laptop does NOT play DVDs!! I have this laptop I picked up in China last year and for the first time, I decided to take it with me and watch DVDs on the train...turns out I don't have the proper “downloads” to read the DVDs and therefore can't access them UNTIL I do such...72 hours on a freakin train, 6 DVDs and I can't watch ONE!! AAaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrggggh!!

Sunday Morning, Vladivostok Hotel: Glory!! Arrived by train to Vladivostok, 36 hrs. later, 7:30am...This is the same hotel (for those who remember my blog from Vladivostok last year), and I was hoping that perhaps their bathrooms had “fresh” water and the decline of malordorous particles emitting from it...It DID and DOES and HAS!! In fact the room actually has a new rug, new tiles and smells purrtier that Freshener used in cat litters...I think I will get some much needed rest now...I am suppose to have dinner with the Consul General, Tom Armbruster and his wife this evening at their residence...Tom is a GREAT Patriot and representative of our country in this city and region...He is so actively involved in the community as a whole it's really a pleasure to meet such a wonderful example of our Diplomatic Corps...After submitting this blog, I think I'll try to get some shut eye for a minute or two...Tom and I will be traveling together to Yakustk, Russia for a 4 day clinic, leaving on Wednesday early afternoon...This will be his first time also visiting this territory and I'm sure he'll be a great model to follow in our clinics...This particular city is well known for its natural resources: gold, silver, diamonds and other non edibles I understand...Another “first” experience for the coaches there, having a foreign coach visit and teach their volunteer youth coaches about the game of basketball...I am looking forward to this clinic for sure...Tomorrow, Monday, I am conducting a two day clinic here in Vladivostok again...The coaches are excited to see me again, or so I'm told, we'll see how excited that translation is...I will have my high school model team to use again, and from what I understand, they had a tremendous season this year and they all are really looking forward to seeing me again and learning new skills from drills...Stay tuned...

Postscript on the Train Ride: I cannot begin to tell you how difficult a return train ride can be when your body aches (lower back)...I had no idea how my body would respond to such a transition from court to compartment...just an FYI for those who desire to travel the Motherland of Russia someday by train...Okay, let's see if I can load this puppy up and over to the blog...

Hi to the Families and players who have been wondering “where in Russia is Coach tom today...”...All the best to everyone...Sincerely, Coach tom

(and grandfather and great-grandfather)

It isn’t everyday that you lose someone with all the aforementions above in ONE day…unexpectedly…I am so happy that last Saturday, November 15th, I placed a call to Papasan (my reverent address to him as he was well known in Japanese Basketball Circles as 'Petersan’)…Keep in mind, please, that NO ONE ever calls Pete Newell during a live broadcast of a football game, baseball game, basketball game and/or Horse Race, especially if the Kentucky Derby had the horses in the paddock area for viewing…I didn’t call during live action, rather I learned many many years ago, that “if” you wanted to speak to Coach, Pete, Papasan, Mr. Newell, you better have a very good reason OR during a Timeout…He hated Timeouts! So, remembering this was the day that Cal was playing the Beavers of Oregon State University, and it was also being televised live in the Northwest, I figured I had a great chance to “catch” him in the 4th Qtr. when there was a critical timeout and at least 2mins. were to be exchanged in conversation…I was perfect on my timing…As the Official raised his hands in motion signaling the TO, I had already begun my dialup…Why the 4th Qtr.? There weren’t any other games on until later, which meant that he would have the commercial distraction to disregard OR my call…

Rog (my wonderful caregiving brother under me) answered the phone and said 'just a minute’, and handed the phone off to Papasan…”Hello…tommy?” Hey Papasan…how are you? The Bears are hanging in there aren’t they? PN: “I like this quarterback kid…can’t remember his name, but he has real courage out there when he steps back to pass…” TN: “So how are you doing?” PN: coughs a little and replies “Not so good…I have to go to the Drs. on Monday and they’re going to check to see what’s wrong…I have difficulty breathing right now, lots of stuff in my chest…” TN: “Are you staying warm?” PN: “oh yes, Roger has been really good taking care of me, Pete ah, Greg, ah Roger, ah dammit, tommy…” (It was here that I KNEW he was okay as that is the same exchange that’s been a staple of conversation over the last 50 years... my 3 brothers names and then remembering me…and he did that with all of us…)

I knew that I had at least half a minute before the commercial was over (watching my own screen) and it was here that I told him about Chris, his Grandson, being the new Boys Freshman Basketball Coach at Eastside Catholic High School…he was so excited and elated to hear about that…PN: “that’s great, tommy, he’s going to be a great teacher and coach someday, you watch…he really listens well and studies the game…I am happy you told me this…” TN: “how did you like hearing about Ashleigh bringing you another Great Grandchild?”…PN: “oh, that’s wonderful…please tell her I am so happy for her…how is she doing? How’s my Paige doing?” TN: “both are doing well and ask about you all the time, hoping your feeling better and taking care of yourself…” PN: “tell them I don’t move so quick anymore but I can laugh…How’s Elaine? TN: told him she was well and was asking about him as well and hoping he was taking care of himself…PN: “Rog has been a godsend, tommy, he has done so much for me…I have not been sleeping very well at night and he’s always right there for me…he really has taken unbelievable care of me…be sure you and your brothers understand that…” TN: “ I know, Papasan, I know, and he has done an incredible service to keep you healthy and well these last several years…” PN: 'yes he has…yes he has’…

The game comes on, 8 mins. to go, Cal down 27-21 with Cal having possession…he tells me: “I think Cal is going to go down the field now and score…I feel they can do it with this quarterback (he couldn’t remember his name, I told him 'Reilly’)…it was here that I wanted to stop, one because his voice was tailing and two, it was LIVE action now, and that means the timeout is over and I need to finish the dialogue…TN:”okay Papasan, great to visit with you, take care of yourself, stay warm, I’ll call you on Monday and check in…I love you very much…PN:”okay tommy, I love you too, tell everyone there I love them also…take care, talk to you next week…”…Boy was that a PROFOUND closing comment: “take care, talk to you next week…”…Did he ever, read on…

Pete Newell passed away on Monday, November 17, 2008, approximately at 10:45am unexpectedly and without a doubt the “way” he would want to leave his incredible “ride” of 93 years…He told Earl Shultz, former player, as he sat in his favorite chair at Earl’s house in San Diego, “I’ll just take a little nap right now before Jerry (West) arrives…”…he closed his eyes and expired…quietly, no pain and suffering…his terms…no live games on TV, no timeouts, no nurses, doctors, examinations, phone calls, doorbells, awakenings, reminders, bathroom visits, changing clothes or having to eat when not feeling up to it…no, Pete, Papasan, Coach Newell, Mr. Newell took a deep breath and relaxed during live action…Wow…

Has he EVER talked to me this week!! The outpouring of love, kindness and respect by former players, camp players, coaches (globally), friends and relatives, has been the most humbling and remarkable experience I have ever witnessed in my life…Did he ever mean to “take care, talk to you next week…”…Whew…The emails, calls, voice mails, text messages and flowers have been so kind, I can’t begin to describe the surreal feeling that has overtaken me the last 48hrs…As an example, Derrick McKey, former Sonic and Pacers player, and Big Man Camp participant, called me out of the blue, 3 hours after Papasan passed away, telling me how sorry he was to hear about “your father, and how he helped me like you did also, tom…I just wanted you to know I was thinking of Coach and how many players he helped in their careers…”… Part sympathy? Part reflection? No, not now, this was from his heart, as it was with the 300 hundred other calls and emails and messages I received…Did he ever “talk to you next week…”, the voice inflections here, transcends any phonics recognition of foreign accents and email narratives, all identifying in their own selfless grief of losing a friend, a confidante, a mentor, a coach and especially their teacher…Have I been down? Most definitely…am I hurting? Not so much hurting as much as I feel like a bowling ball has been dropped on my tummy after I exhaled while laying down…The void is not so much a blank stare or a listless emotion, rather, it is a numbing sensation, kinda like when I went to my first overnight camp during the summer and saying goodbye for the first time to my Dad and Mom, scared worse than a King Kong mask on a tall kid visiting the same porch for Trick or Treat on any Halloween back in the early childhood days…Yes, a sensation that vacillates between a teargate and ego-posture, but in the end, so weak and sad for the moment, yet relieved that he is not suffering any more, although he wouldn’t 'fess up to that completely…Summary: I’m getting better, stronger each hour…

Shout outs to the community at large…basketball community that is…I can’t thank Earl and Karen Shultz enough for their undying love and affection for Papasan since the day Earl graduated from Cal back in ’61…he and Karen adopted Papasan into their lives and Rancho Sante Fe in the year 2000…They found the perfect Townhouse, setting and of course Del Mar being 10 mins. away, made the decision really easy when one researches “how” he ended up there…Earl Shultz was one of those unspoken and unheralded players that was often mentioned about the Cal Bears Finalists years at the NCAAs…he was by far one of the BEST defensive guards I have ever seen in basketball, and inspired me later when I played shooting guard in college and loved guarding the other team’s best guard…He was NEVER intimidated by any opponent, especially a Bruin or Trojan! Thank you Earl, Karen and Bob Wueste for your love and care of Pete…

Roger: whew…you will never hear about Rog’s divine interventions (middle of night episodes with Papasan), sacrifices and of course overall caregiving extraordinaire skills when being Papasan’s Shepherd these last several years…Thank you Rog for your love of Dad, thank you for the many personal sacrifices you made to take care of him, from Drs. appointments, the store shopping, his every beckoned call, and of course his “social schedule” and calendar, I’m sure one that rivaled any sitting-elect President…No, you are the ultimate Team Player, the Captain who listened and stayed close to the action daily, the one who chose to sacrifice his personal well being for that of his father’s…and made him so proud and humble for this love and devotion…YOU, are the hero here, Rog, and I thank you so much for keeping him on his “ride” all this time…

Cousin Yoli and Ken McKenzie…Papasan’s spiritual partners on Sundays and breakfast companions afterwards…Gosh he really looked forward to Mass and the visits with you and your Family after Church…thank you so much for “being there” also, extending your Family’s love and kindness to Uncle Pete…he loved all of the Villars (Papasan’s sister, Catherine’s family name) very much and of course the attention and kisses from your children…

To Pete Jr. …Pete was a wonderful joy to his father, celebrating with him his induction into the California High School Basketball Hall of Fame several years ago…I remember Papasan telling me about it, not once, not twice, but several times over, he was so proud of Pete’s accomplishments at Santa Cruz High School…Pete painstakingly took time away from his profession as a High School teacher to be with Papasan when he was recovering from his 2005 surgery, and between he and Roger and the late Stu Inman (former San Jose State Men’s coach and long time NBA Executive), Papasan was able to recover beyond the expectations of conventional medical wisdom: “no one in their late 80’s, losing 70% of one lung can expect to live very long after...”…Wrong…they forgot, he had a Big Man’s Camp coming up in the summer several months away and had to get ready for it…and he did…Thanks Pete for being there to help Rog when he needed relief and assistance…you too, made Papasan so proud with your success and the fact that you were able to take his idea of a Tall Woman’s Camp and implement this program with Bill McClintock…that was a great feat in itself…as well as taking over the Big Man’s Camp as Court Director…

To my Brother Greg: he was so happy for your children’s activities, from show horses by Taylor to jumpers by Peter…you made him so proud of their accomplishments and future successes…he also was extremely happy to receive your letters of late, and how happy you were at this time in your life…reuniting with your children, being an integral part of Peter’s education at Glendale Community College…Yes, he would tell me about your letters and share what was going on with Peter and Taylor…thank you for staying so close to Papasan…he knew now his 'ride’ was about over, on his terms, everything in place…

To ALL those Angels-in-disguise out there, and you know who I am talking about: former players, acquaintances, Doctors, scribes, ADs, coaches, current players, NBAers, foreign acquaintances, nurses, waiters, hostesses, owners, horse enthusiasts, friends, relatives, trainers, whomever I have forgotten, thank you thank you thank you, for your love and support during the most difficult time of his life when our late Mother, Florence , passed away 24 years ago last month…You have no idea how important your roles were when his “ride” came to a complete halt, and he went into a deep, saddening moment that as a son, I had never witnessed before in my life…Your phone calls, your visits, your schedules to include him on your trips, all of these made the difference in Papasan “getting off the ride” or continuing…Obviously, he continued, and we were all blessed for his extended journeys…He only made 5 videos and co-wrote 6 books at that time, plus a number of appearances all around the country…yes, YOU ALL had a hand in Pete’s survival at that pivotal point in his life…Thank you so much…

Finally, I would welcome any and all testimonials from one’s personal experience(s) with Papasan, Pete, Coach, Mr. Newell as I will be putting together a compilation of all for publishing later…thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences at this time…tom newell


Editor's note: Thanksgiving week there will be a Private Funeral for the family. In addition, there will be a Memorial Celebration for Pete Newell at Loyola Marymount University in LA, at Shaker Heart Cathedral on Monday, December 15th, Open to the Public.

thank you so much for your kind, caring thoughts and comments at this time...I've lost a great friend, mentor and father now, and this whole experience has been undeniably a most humbling event...His influence on teaching the game and keeping it simple for players and coaches at all levels is the mantra that will always be associated with his contributions to the game...I cannot begin to tell you how much I appreciate the time and love he shared with you as a Coach, Player, Parent and Fan in the greatest Team Sport the world has ever witnessed...On behalf of the brothers Newell, keep it simple, praise the effort always in your kids play, and always teach the difference between a "good habit" vs. a "bad habit"...Sincerely, tom newell

...with the loss of Pete Newell today.Pete Newell

 Please leave your thoughts and best wishes for Tom and his family in the comments.

- Jay and Guy
FamilySportsLifeToday.com

 

 

August 3, 2008...Paul Simon made this recording a well-hummed tune for many many years...And I still hum it on my "arrival" date and even some days and months before my first cry...

Okay, where and what has ol tommyboy been up to of late? Well for starters, I just finished the Seattle Parks Best Effort/HopeHeart Institute camps for kids...We had close to 1,000 kids, ages 7-14 (with very very few 13-14 year olds in attendance: DANGER!!)...The kids were terrific, the help I had was terrific, having Greg George and Greg Peters from Northwest University help me for the last 5 weeks...They both are tall and imposing "teddy bears", trust me...GGeorge is 6'10 and GPeters is 6'8...They were positive models to the kids each day...I have been really blessed over the last few years to have such wonderful "models to follow" with our Best Effort Camps..

This week we're doing the Best Effort program at the Tukwila Parks Community Center and then over to the Renton Parks Center in the afternoon...Coach June Daugherty is representing the HopeHeart Institute in these two programs and I will be reppin the Best Effort model...June is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE people in basketball...She loves the game, the players and kids who also love basketball...We have been close friends for a long long time, and together with her husband, Mike, I think they'll turn the program around over there on the Palouse...She suffered a Heart Attack last Spring and recovered, but it was a touch and go situation for sure...HopeHeart Institute of Seattle is a non-profit organization and they have been a terrific partner this summer in our camps...The packets that Laura Suter put together for the kids on the last day has been the true highlight for the camp experience...They provide info on proper nutrition and exercise for BOTH Parents and their children...I am really happy to have met Greg Ritter, Executive President of this organization and his able-ready-to-help staff...What a TEAM they have...Wow!!

Okay, so I leave after a short and sweet update...will be blogging again from Houston as I leave on Wednesday to train several NBA players for a week...Then I come home or arrive in Portland for our oldest daughter's, Ashleigh's, wedding...Yikes...NOW I really KNOW I am getting old...Our oldest getting married to a terrific fella, Brian Fortune...he too is a graduate of Linfield College...works as a Real Estate Executive in Hillsboro...Has a nice jump shot too to go along with his overall Men's League Game...I "scouted" him out folks, you know, that's why they call me "Tonto"...Take care, drive safely, wear your bicycle helmets when ridin the streets ANYWHERE!! Lots of love, Coach tom

July 4th, 2008...Happy 4th to all...I hope you're day is safe and filled with the essence of an alder-smoked rib or steak that made you enjoy the weekend...Me? Well, let's see...the Karma gods or gremlins "blessed" me with a GREAT start last night to the long weekend...I gotta call from my son, Chris (Bo), informing me that our car was stopped at Exit 49/Castle Rock off I-5 with a V-belt in shreds...Hmmmm, I said to myself, this is sounding like a baadddd start to a nice weekend...He and his Mother, my wife, Elaine, were returning from visiting our daughter, Ashleigh and her son, Carter and his father, Brian...Everything was "onkee doree" and that of course is what I call the "Beach Warning...be careful!!"...Needless to say, I ended up driving down I-5 to pick them up and return them to home...the car of course being towed back to Longview, awaiting the fateful return of a certified mortician-mechanic to begin his assessment of the damage done...I got a chance to "look" at the car before we returned to Seattle...Fortunately, there wasn't any collateral damage to the rest of the engine (as I could see "it": radiator damage, hose connections, oil residues), so, in one sense, I was relieved...Now, I'm trying to figure out how to get back down there next week and pick it up...plus, this really puts a cramp in my plans, as our Best Effort Camps begin in Seattle next week for the next 5 weekdays straight...Somehow, I figure there's a "reason" for this latest experience, so it probably means I'm about to meet someone new, or learn a new lesson along the way...but...I gotta tell you: it ain't a whole lotta fun drivin the corridor between here and PDX...

Okay, on to another memory link from this week: The beleaguered Sonics and the demise of political figureheads as sports enthusiasts...I read with great interest and intrigued, the commentary by Jerry "Heizah" Brewer and Stevie "FullofWonder" Kelly...Man, those two Cats were clinical pathologists in another life, trust me, 'cause their "reads and writes" were some of the best reflections I've read in a long long time on the Sonics issues...

Am I sad? Am I indifferent? Am I disappointed? Am I pizzed off? Am I depressed? Am I angry? Am I ambivalent? Am I ______? Well, let me tell you my true thoughts on this subject...After being in the NBA as a Front Office executive (Pacers Director of Player Personnel/Asst. GM '84-86), Asst. Coach on the bench in Seattle ('86-'90), New Jersey Nets ('90-92) and the Dallas Mavericks ('93-94), I learned this much about the NBA: it's truly a BUSINESS ONLY, there is no allegiance to fans in the stands...UNLESS you're the Lakers, Celtics and Knicks...I mean, really, did you ever think that being in the Far NW, that NYC would be interested in "what" the paying fans felt (not the corporate entities who STOPPED supporting the retention of suites and sponsorships) ...I mean, afterall, that the NBA is FANtastic, 'cause Dyan Cannon tells me so....ooops that was in the late '80's...Then of course when the Celtics finally broke down and introduced Ladies with Bodies Dance Corps to rival the team (keep in mind, THIER record was one of the 3 worst in the League over the last 10 years!!!), Uncle Red Auerbach couldn't take it anymore and ASKED to "get me outta here....now....what's this league comin too?"...and HIS wish was granted...As for the Sonics faithful, I have a poem for you, an Ode to the Sonics so to speak, that perhaps will reflect upon the past and remind one of the future when it comes to sports...                                          

                                                  An Ode to the Sonics Past        

The Team was introduced to the Northwest as an Expansion...

Little did anyone know that over 40 years later...

It would become a "relocation"...

The Sonics became a treat and a favor...

For many diehard fans who needed pro sports beyond television...

Embracing future Legends as adopted children in an everchanging NW culture...

It was only when Sir Lenny became Head Coach that the Sonics would complete their mission...

Only to lose the status and confidence of many as a Team contending for renowned "stature"...

Oh how I revel in my reflections of the many practices and games that filled my daily life as a Sonic...

From Xman, Dale, Nate and Tommy to the arrival of Shawn Kemp and the success of George Karl...

And yet, upon reflections, I see now that those memories and respect is no more than Historic...

You see, my friends, fans and former players, your life was a void, filled with minutes of joy and angst...

From "sweet" 3s by Ellis to the steals by The Glove and the slams by the Reign Man...

No one, and I mean no one can ever take away the heart and soul of the modern Sonics team...

The voice of Kevin Calabro, his resonant reminders of spectacular plays as smooth as Lake Chelan...

And yet, we ALL feel betrayed, abandoned, disjointed from the rest of the basketball world and dream...

No more Rookies to assess...no more Free Agents to critique...no more Squatch...no more no more...

Do we rise up and speak our peace? Do we take up arms (sans High Fives) and demonstrate against this reality...?

Or do we learn from this lesson in life when it comes to sports: "in the end...it's not about the outcome or score..."

It has everything to do with money, money, money, money...and in that realization you will always find mortality...

I thank the Sonics and the many players and friendships I've made over the years when we moved here many years ago...

And I will always hold high the notion and heartfelt love and experience that we were ONE...Team and Fans...Thank you!!

 

Okay, enuff of that sentimental stuff...shoot, next I'll be eatin Quiche or something fluffy like that!!

I've been busy, and it seems I'll be busier than a worker bee lookin for a new hive...I hope my New Balance sponsorship over the last 5 years will continue to support our community service endeavors this summer...I received an email 3 weeks ago telling me that "we have re-structured our model and we are pulling back from branding and community oriented programs such as yours...this due in part to the economic issues that have affected the National economy today..."...Hmmmm, by my account, I'd say MORE people are going to be BUYING more tennies than NOT when you see the Gas prices going up each week...Shucks, one can get at least 5 thousand miles on a pair of NB Cross Trainers walkin to work, no?? Anyway, wasn't expecting "that" email notice and now I gotst to scramble and figure out how we're going to finish strong and positive to the end of our camps...

I've missed YOU ALL and my fingertouches on the laptop, and it seems that you have also, as there have been many readers who have emailed me and wondered if I was "ever" going to write again...I apologize...It's true: "absence makes the heart (for writing) grow fonder..."...So, let's see if my inspiration towards your desire to read my rants and what nots on a Scorecard will continue more regularly than recent non-posts...

Take care, hope y'all are having a GREAT SUMMER...Big Shoutout to Kristen O'Neil!! Booohlyah!! She just signed with the Storm and let me tell you: she has a "MOTOR" for the game and will bring a special presence to this team before the season ends...I've had the pleasure of being a teacher in her later basketball career at the UW and Euro league to work with her on her game...She works harder than ANY female player I've ever worked with, and that includes Jackie Stiles, who at the time was off the charts when I was an Asst. coach with the Portland Fire, WNBA, '02...She can play 3 positions defensively and offensively, not afraid of ANY matchup assignment and role that Coach Brian Agler dictates...If you haven't checked out this year's team, do so...they have one of the best coaches in basketball in Brian Agler, and the collection of talent on this team this season, if healthy to the end, have a chance to do something that NO OTHER Pro team has ever done in Seattle: WIN TWO Championships!!! Go Storm!!  All the Best, God Bless, Coach tom

Postscript from Parent Symposium May 31st, UW Hec Ed Assembly room...

First off, I want to humbly thank each panelist who joined in our program last Saturday...I know how each coach made the necessary sacrifices from Family, work and "day off" to accept my invitation to be a part of this uniquely arranged forum...I can't begin to tell you how impressive it was to those in attendance and online viewing our livestream program for 3 and a half hours...Wow!! The parents and kids in attendance all gained invaluable information that will help families understand intercollegiate recruiting and the process of same, now and in the immediate future...For that alone, I am so happy we were fortunate enough to have the support from the coaches, the UW Athletics Department, Athletics Directors from Seattle U, and Seattle Pacific University, including Stan Morrison, AD at the University of California, Riverside, who, along with his Staff members, went online to watch and listen in on our program...Thank you...

The most thought provoking result from this event was the fact that parents and kids still DO NOT ACCESS the free website www.ncaa.org to seek the necessary information that will enlighten their knowledge-base (or not) on the subject of requirements and eligibility rules for becoming an NCAA Student Athlete today...I certainly hope that in the future, the audience, both online and in attendance will share the information and encourage their friends and other family members to log on to the NCAA website and from there carefully assess the values and traditions that have been established for many many years by this organization...

Okay, if you really "want" to know how it went, what was said and presented as advisory reminders, then I suggest you check in with our Home Page to see when we will have the symposium online for your observations...

Again, thank you parents and kids for taking the time out of your schedules to be a part of this program...Your questions and interests in learning from our panelists for the benefit of your child(ren) is complimented well from our end...This just means that we need to do a better job of getting MORE parents, kids and coaches "tuned in" to this model/template of information today, meaning stay tuned...we'll do this again next Spring...Coach tom

Monday afternoon...day after camp...

Okay, so this much I know: I'm intrigued by the travel opportunities that basketball has provided me on my journeys...I mean, I was in China in January, Vladivostok, Russia in February and now Fairbanks, Alaska in June...Wow...

I am here assisting a former Sonics player who is a very close friend of mine, Clemon Johnson...We've known one another through our association with the Sonics back in the day when I was an Assistant Coach on the bench with Bernie Bickerstaff ('86-'90)...Clemon is one of those uniquely talented ex-players, who has quietly gone about gaining the necessary experience and understanding as a basketball coach by taking himself to the "Top of the World", Fairbanks, Alaska, as Head Men's Basketball Coach of U of A, Fairbanks...

This will be Clemon's 2nd season in Fairbanks, and he is as excited as a proud Papa awaiting the "birth" of his 2 child in 5 months...He will have 8 new players on his squad, his recruits, and return only 3 lettermen from the season before...

Why am I here? Right now, we've just completed the Position Camp for the last 3 days on campus, and it went very well...We had around 16-17 players, boys, ages 13-17 and varied level of skills...some terrific, some not-so-good, but all possessing a willingness to want to be taught and learn something new about how to improve their skills and game...I am blessed because when we're on the court, the kids really come to life, eager to execute properly and most definitely getting "stronger" when they miss layups...That's because Coach Newell has a rule: "You miss your layups with no defender on you...What happens when you play in a game WITH a defender?...Right, you miss it worse!!"...The "reminders" I use to help them focus better on this mis-skill: pushups...5 for each layup missed...Yesterday, lil Oba, all 5'4" of him missed 8 layups during our drills...I slide up to him and ask him: "Oba, how many pushups do you have to do today?...He goes "I've got 40 coach and COUNTING..."...So I told him he has 2 hours to do his layups and he smiles a relief of salvation from having to do them all right then and there...So fast forward here, we're 5 mins. away from practice being over and we're finishing up and come together as a team and break...Oba comes up to me and thanks me for helping him and I acknowledge his gratitude and tell him to be sure to get his rest tonight...He said he will "after" he gets through doing his pushups: now it's over 60!! I tell him that he worked very hard today and that his effort more than made up for his missed layups, BUT he must work very hard NOT to miss as many tomorrow as he did today...He's so excited, one, because he doesn't have to do the pushups, and, two, because he knows that this ol coach "likes" him as a player, even though the ball is bigger than his face and an Alaskan Hound is longer than he is on all fours!! I love Summer Basketball Camps...the kids are wonderfully bright and excited for the daily event and usually there are 3-4 kids that just stand out in their personalities and application...They're usually the "Lil Caboose" that can't make it up the Hill who end up reminding me why I love to teach this game...Their eyes and eagerness to learn far surpass any disappointments and distractions the older players may cause me, because the lil fellers are trying so hard to do the drills the right way...God love them...what a treat to teach!!

Monday, June 9th...afternoon...Team Camp begins in 3 hours...looking forward to seeing the "talent" up here...Shucks, if I were a high school player playing soccer, basketball, football and/or baseball, I guarantee you I'd be outside until midnight every night playing, practicing, etc....I mean, think about it: outdoors with the sun shining until 1 in the morning!!?? YOU HAVE TO LOVE THAT ENVIRONMENT, and I would imagine that I'll be seeing some interesting play over the course of the week...Stay tooned, I'll fill y'all in the observations...Coach tom

 Update:  The local newspaper had a story announcing the clincs at http://newsminer.com/news/2008/jun/10/newell-slates-hoops-camp-all-coaches/

Our symposium, "Expectations with Revelations: An Insight into the Process of Intercollegiate Recruiting" will be held Saturday May 31, 2008, in the Assembly Room of Hec Ed Pavilion at the University of Washington. Directions are here.

Registration begins at 12 noon and the program runs from 12:30 to 3:30 PM.

Representatives from the following programs are scheduled to participate in a panel discussion and answer questions on the subject of identifying prospects and how the process begins towards recruiting a high school student athlete.

  • University of Washington: Leslie Tuiasusopo, Volleyball; Paul Fortier, Men's Basketball; Loree Payne, Women's Basketball
  • Seattle Pacific University: Jeff Hironaka, Men's Basketball
  • Seattle University: Joe Callero, Men's Basketball; Dan Kriley, Women's Basketball
  • Northwest University (Kirkland): John Van ***, Men's Basketball
  • University of Nebraska: Sunny Smallwood, Women's Basketball
  • Eastern Washington University: Cheryl Sorenson, Women's Basketball
  • St. Martin's: Keith Cooper, Men's Basketball
  • Bellevue Community College: Coach Ernie Woods, retired NWAC Hall of Fame coach
  • Coach John Bowers: former D-IAA College football recruiter, current Ballard High School Football Head Coach

This program is for parents and kids at the Middle School and High School levels of interscholastic sports. The symposium is FREE and refreshments will be provided.

"I attended the symposium previously and had a lot of questions on how the college application process fit with the athletic recruiting for my son. Tom and his panel of speakers did a great job of outlining the parent's role in their child's athletic future, what the student should realistically expect beyond high school, and how colleges approach scouting, recruiting, and scholarships," said Pat Ulhman, whose son Ryan Roarke is a Cornell University graduate.

Donations of Food items for Northwest Harvest will be greatly appreciated and gladly accepted!

Questions will be presented to the coaches as well as parents learning about the various rules and regulations related to their children becoming NCAA Eligible for recruitment. Materials will be passed out to each family in attendance.

For those not able to attend in person, the program will be broadcast live over the Internet at www.FamilySportsLifeToday.com/tv

Our upcoming symposium, "Expectations with Revelations: An Insight into Intercollegiate Recruiting..." will be broadcast live over the Internet. People who cannot attend the event in person should go to

www.FamilySportsLifeToday.com/tv

to watch on Saturday. The program will run from 12:30 PM to 3:30 PM Pacific Daylight Time.

If you have the latest Adobe Flash Player, you should be able to watch the video. This is a free download.


We're proud to announce that Family SportsLife Today is holding a FREE Symposium for Parents and Student-Athletes to be held at University of Washington on Saturday, May 31st entitled "Expectations with Revelations: an insight to the process of Intercollegiate recruiting today...".

The event will be held at the University of Washington, Hec Ed Pavilion, Assembly Hall, Saturday, May 31, 2008, from 12:00 -3:30pm. Middle School and High School parents and their student athlete children are invited to this FREE program.  Pre-registration is encouraged by joining
www.FamilySportsLifeToday.com.

This program features college coaches as Panelists from various areas of intercollegiate sports. Division I, II, III, NAIA and Community College representatives will present their recruiting insights and information for parents and their student athletes on what identifies a prospect today when they evaluate a student athlete playing interscholastic sports.

The representative Universities and Colleges from the Puget Sound will include coaches from Seattle University, Seattle Pacific University, St. Martin's College, Pacific Lutheran University, University of Puget Sound, Northwest University, Bellevue Community College, and the host school, the University of Washington. The sports being represented in this symposium will be the following:

  • Men and Women's Basketball
  • Volleyball (D-I, D-II)
  • Men and Women's Soccer
  • Football (D-I, D-II)
  • Track and Field
  • Fast pitch Softball

Also featured in this extraordinary program are former intercollegiate student athletes from the various levels of intercollegiate athletics and their respective sports. Certified professionals from Strength and Conditioning training programs will also provide information for parents and student athletes.

Topics will cover:

  • Identifying a student athlete "prospect" today. Where and when are they first discovered?
  • The "first" contact: is the beginning of "expectations"?
  • The Parent's role in supporting their student athlete today in middle school and high school sports.
  • How a Parent can best prepare for understanding the eligibility related to NCAA Clearinghouse rules and regulations today.
  • Important information and dates to remember.
  • Core subjects that are pre-requisites for eligibility standards per NCAA Clearinghouse rules.
  • Select Team programs: does it help to be on a "Select" team today or not?
  • What age should individual training, such as Strength and Conditioning programs be initiated?
  • Sports Nutrition and your student athlete today. The importance of eating well and staying healthy.

The program is FREE to the Public. The program is FREE to the Public.

Refreshments will be available.  A question and answer session will follow the presentation.  Questions for the seminar can be submitted in advance to FamilySportsLifeToday@gmail.com.  Before the event, we'd like Parents to fill out a survey on college recruiting at www.FamilySportsLifeToday.com/survey.

Registration will be open from 12:00 - 12:20pm.  Pre-registration is recommended at www.FamilySportsLifeToday.com. Seating is limited, so it is important to register online now for this event. 

Donations of Food items for Northwest Harvest will be greatly appreciated and gladly accepted!

This is the third program of its kind. The inaugural program began in 2001 at Seattle Pacific University and was widely acclaimed by all parents in attendance at that time. The second program was hosted on the campus at Hec Ed Pavilion two years ago, and all parents in attendance came away with a better understanding of what college coaches think when they identify a "prospect" for their sports programs.

April 6, 2008...Sunday afternoon...

I LOVE the Final Four...no, I LOVE college basketball in March and April as it truly defines teams' characters, courage, resiliency, hope, and the ability to push through adversity, no matter what the score is...

Watching UNC's demise last night on TV, was a painful exhibition and had to take Coach Williams breakfast and lunch and make it feel like a Maytag Washer on the Bering Sea...As a Coach, you always hope and pray that your players are mentally "ready" to compete, NOT JUST PLAY, and I got the impression that Carolina was ONLY ready to play, not compete until it woke up after halftime...I mean, imagine: 40-12 during Kansas' first half run, and in between the TV's and Carolina's timeouts during this tsunami-like offensive wave by the Jayhawks, Carolina had no answer...they were just flat outplayed...WOW...WOW!!

So, what do you do as a coach or parent directly affected by such a blowout and wonderment of confusion being associated with a team that's getting blow out (and TRUST me, as a Coach, parent or friend, you WILL experience this as a spectator or bench member)? Find the Arena's engineer and ask him to "pull the plug" for 5 mins. on the scoreboard and clock...The other suggestion, would be, to a more-than-usual exhorting to the players on the court with some heavy lovin encouragement...Seriously, think about this: if I'm playing and as a team I "overhear" someone in the stands callin for the " HazMat team to come in quick 'cause there's something definitely "unknown" goin on down on the court and someone NEEDS to check it out...", and I look at the scoreboard and then to the sideline, and all I see are coaches who are noticeably "balder" than before the game started (heads down) and then my head's up observing family and friends in the stands, and they've all got that expression of "Children of the Corn" look, well, trust me, if I hear screaming and yelling of positive encouragement NO MATTER WHAT, that's enough to get me through the "storm" and pick the energy up for myself and teammates...That is what happened to Carolina towards the end of the 1st half, they got some positive "love songs" from their fans and bench and closed with confidence... That run and the 2nd half run was reminiscent of Coach Dean Smith's great Carolina teams of the past...I wasn't surprised, and would not have been in shock IF the Tar Heels pulled off the greatest comeback in Final Four history...Why? Carolina has great, no GRRRRREEEEAAAAAAT basketball tradition and legacy paving its way in all competitions related to ACC lore and NCAA Big Dance games...Anyway, it was really fun to watch the energy and competitive matchups from both teams...

UcLA...hmmmm, that game did not surprise me in the least...I am not a big "fan" of Darrin Collison and he proved me "why"...As a "lead guard", one must take the responsibility of getting your team into the offense and directing the spacing on the floor as an "extension" of the Head Coach...That is what a "lead guard's" responsibility is and always will be...Somewhere along the way, during the 2As, he missed that chapter, paragraph, discussion or email, unfortunately, because he did not rise to occasion as his teammates did...The biggest GRIPE I have today at all levels of basketball is when a Big Post has position inside with a Defender playing behind him, THEN PASS THE FREAKN BALL to him and let him go to work: QUIT DRIBBLING and dominating the ball for 15 seconds, going from one side of the court to the other...I'm sorry, I don't get that at all...The one thing that I will always remember about Magic Johnson and John Stockton is that they truly kept the offense in the "flow" and kept the game simple in the half court with their decision-making and execution...UcLA did not have a clue on spacing, angles and proper execution to get the ball into the best passer on the team, young blood Kevin Love...He is truly a remarkably gifted young student/athlete for UcLA...I love his verve, his basketball quotient is "Bird-like", his love for the game is "Magic-like" and more importantly he HAS FUN playing the game...Wow...I did however feel that his back was bothering him early on in the 1st half (mid) as he did not run the floor nor move like he normally does, and his "pained" expressions during dead ball situations were obvious signs to me that it would be a long night for Kevin and his kidneys matching up with Dorsey and company...Let me say this: I certainly hope that Kevin stays at UcLa for another season, as he is one of the most wonderful models for ANY and ALL level basketball players today UNIVERSALLY speaking, and even though he is a bona fide Pro, there is no guarantee that he would end up with a veteran-laden team that would take the pressure off of him and he would develop accordingly...Having this young man on college TV hoops next season would encourage Dads to sit and watch with their sons and daughters how simple this player makes the game with his footwork skills, passing touch, and shooting the ball facing and back to the basket....plus he's not too shabby on defense either: block shots and rebounding both ends...

Memphis is the real deal...Coach John Calipari is one of the true teachers of the game today...he learned under Larry Brown back in the day at KU, and has been a student of the game ever since...He had the short lived experience of coaching in the NBA a couple of seasons after his first Final Four appearance with Marcus Camby and UMass years ago, and I think that experience alone (NBA Nets), helped him see what a coach can do with exceptionally gifted athletes...I'm tellin you now: that team could run with a lot of current NBA teams today...yeah, that good...Their point Guard Rose? WOW!! His feel and demeanor for the game is off the charts and he will soon be spoken in the same breath with Wade, Nash, Kidd and Chris Paul, who is a remarkable lead guard today in the League...Seriously, I haven't seen a better guard (Point) in college the last two years than this young man (19 years old)...He has a chance to be one of the "future" Stars of the NBA whose illuminations and success stories have yet to be written...

I have really enjoyed being home again in our beautiful country...I am so proud to be an American and have the opportunities to represent my country through basketball, you have no idea...The China experience was a terrific stay as was the Vladivostok, Russia clinics and visit...Know this, basketball is a peaceful medium, means, and an olive branch that melds all the differences, both political and religious to a level of respect and friendships that we can all appreciate and cherish forever...And I do...

Take care, more to come this week...BIG ANNOUNCEMENT coming in two days...A "must" for Parents and their student athletes to attend...There's NOTHING LIKE THIS provided here in the NW...FREE...FREE...Coach tom

Seattle, Washington...March 23, 2OO8...

Okay, I'm over my "rants"...maybe...I think that sometimes the World is flat when I read the papers and see the stories and comments of educated people (or are they?)...When I have been to various parts of the world, teaching the game to kids, players, coaches and parents, and complete my sessions for the day, I always have been able to collect my thoughts and reflections of the day by looking up at the stars and seeing the Big Dipper, Lil Dipper and other reminders of the universe bigger than our planet...And during these quiet moments, I remind myself just how small I really am, kudos to the late Buckminster Fuller, Astrophysicist, MIT, who inspired my mortality many moons ago when I lived in Belgium, when I could get up and down a basketball court professionally...He was a Professor of notoriety at MIT, and architect (Geodesic Domes) when he saw what was happening to our planet as he knew it back in the day (early 70's), and would greet his "new" enrollees with this provocative introduction to "life" as they didn't know it at the time: "Today, we learn about the universe..."...He would pull down a white screen in his auditorium and have the lights turned out and then project a slide of the universe on the screen...He would then take a pointer and explain the mysteries that they were about to engage upon and point to a "speck" on the screen and reflect: "this is Earth...so for anyone here who thinks they are significantly important in the grand scope of their existence...you're not..."...And that is his introduction to "his" world and theirs, and he would begin his class for the semester...I have never forgotten that simple explanation to our world and the universe in general, so now whenever I pause and reflect with my eyes towards the heavens, ol Bucky Fuller comes to mind, not a jump shot that Michael Jordan hit to win a game or a Home Run by Mickey Mantle...Little did I realize that my "awakening" would carry over from one continent to another, reminding me of my quiet reflections from years past to this present moment in my life...The last two weeks have been a burden of sorts, knowing that there is a region in the world whose people are suffering for being independent, meditative and most definitely peaceful...They too look to the heavens above, reflecting, wondering why they are tormented and abused by educated literates, censored for asking people in the "free" world to hear their pleas for help and assistance...I could name the country and the small region, but knowing that my blog is monitored and that I may someday return to this large country, I think it is best to not engage in a political war of words and critique, but trust me, as an Ambassador to the world in my small but effective way, I have some unfinished work to be done there in a peaceful application, and through that model, believe that one can do more with a ball that bounces and can be shot at a basket than a "scope over"...I pray for peace, world peace, and know that this summer of sports regalia will go on, but not without a distraction or two by the world's athletes in their own way...Let us all hope that their voices, performances and competitions will acknowledge the freedom of speech and expressions in non-violent manners will hopefully do more for affecting change than the other alternatives...Had to get that off my chest tonight so I can rest peacefully...

Hope all are well who take the time to read my musings and what knots now and then...have a great week and I'll try to blog again tomorrow...Happy Trails to you...until we read again...Coach tom 

March 3, 2008...San Diego, California...

I am blessed to have this opportunity to be with my family and visit my father, Pete Newell, 92 years young, over this past weekend and tomorrow night's festivities of him being honored into the San Diego Hall of Champions program...He once was the General Manager of the San Diego Rockets before they relocated to Houston...He is very excited to be able to "live" this experience tomorrow night and we're so happy that he is with us now...Should be fun...

Now to the "heading" aforementioned...I am really REALLY concerned about the level of play that I have witnessed recently in high school basketball, both boys and girls at the 3A and 4A levels...First off, why is it that kids don't know how to make a correct CHEST PASS, BOUNCE PASS, OVERHEAD OUTLET PASS, PUSH PASSes, left hand/right hand? Why is it that kids don't understand that once you pass the ball YOU MUST MOVE WITHOUT IT or you might as well hold a Polaroid Camera and take pictures of the plays 'cause you're NOT a part of the motion any longer...Why is it kids don't talk on defense or anticipate helping a teammate when they get beat one on one? Why is it kids don't block out in late February when you know the coaches have taught them in October? Why is it kids hang their heads when they come out of the game and don't accept the fact that they're NOT helping the team with their mistakes or ineffective play and cast a dirty look at the coach or want to SIT at the end of the bench? Why is it kids who do start and then come out don't "cheer" their teammates who are still on the court competing for the TEAM? Why is it that some kids LOOK to the stands for support of their parents when they can GET ALL the support in the world from their coaches and teammates? Yeah, I'm BACK and not a "Happy Hooper" with the model I see on the courts today...Y'all need to listen to my podcast and hear my rant and suggestions to overcome the negativity that is surrounding our game today at the interscholastic levels...If I "stir" your emotions, good...If you think I'm "losing it"...you better have someone "film" you in the stands and YOUR son/daughter when they play or sit, then we'll see who's "losing" it...I am really upset at this time with what I see as a terrible slack-state of fundamental skills in interscholastic basketball in the NW...The "hype" that is being put upon young people today in newspapers and magazines, is unfortunate and setting up kids and parents for a "free fall" that is bungeecordless and doomed for a "post mortem" on one's high school basketball experiences IF the "expectations" are unfulfilled...Those of you, Parents, Coaches (all levels), Student Athletes and Administrators who KNOW me and my passion for the game, realize that I speak from my heart and trust me, my heart is hurting after watching basketball over the last three weeks in the NW...Listen to the Podcast to hear my feelings if you dare...Nobody ever said "Oral Medicines" were "sweet tasting", and trust me, this "prescription" is not sweet, BUT can HELP overcome the "nausea" that you (parent(s), student athletes, administrators and coaches) felt after the last defeat that eliminated you from District, Regionals, State and in State Finals...

Now I feel a whole lot better after getting that OFF my chest...thank you!! Okay, where do we go from here...Stay tooned, as I have a couple of events coming up for announcement that may or may not interest the parents and their student athletes...a Novel approach once again on my part to share with Family Sports Life Today in the NW...

I am soooooooooooo happy to be back in the NW and with Family and Friends...I thank you each and every one for emailing me over the last several months, encouraging my weblogits, and of course keeping me posted on your lives as well, on and off the court...Drive safe, buckle up and all the best, God Bless...Coach tom

Thank you to all that attended at supported the important work of Northwest Harvest. - tn

Northwest Harvest is a Washington original, begun here in 1967, and still the only hunger relief agency distributing food statewide for free to about 300 member food banks and meal programs. Northwest Harvest is privately supported and independently operated. They receive all their food and funds from you: individuals, businesses, corporations and foundations, not from the government or a parent organization.

Without the following people providing support and volunteer help, the "For the Love of the Game" event would not have been possible. Thank you for being a part of history.

Mr. Scott Rerucha, The Legacy Group, President, Title Sponsor

Mr. Pat Leonard, Qwizdom, inc. Coordinator, Support Sponsor

K&G Investments, Support Sponsor

Mr. Jon Wise, New Balance Shoes and Apparel

Mr. Alden "Audie" Foote, Graphic Artist and Design Coordinator

Mr. Daniel Jahn, End Zone Athletics, Strength and Conditioning Coach

Mr. Dave Burroughs, Security Director/Advisor

ShowRoomLabor.com, "Caretakers of the Game" Plaque, Mr. Nick Beerman, Proprietor

Mr. Larry Stone, Coordinator of Platform Construction for Elevated Basket Stanchions

Mr. Bob Llewellyn, Spalding Basketballs "Project 11" Commemorative Balls

Metropolitan Grill, Gift Certificate for Event

Jak's Steak House, Alki, Gift Certificate for Event

Mr. Kevin Regan, Quality Business Systems, Inc.

Mr. Marty Hillis and the GREAT TEAM at The Ram, U Village

Silver Cloud Hotel, U Village

Watertown Inn, Seattle

Coach Joe Callero, Seattle University

Coach Jeff Hironaka, Seattle Pacific University

Mr. Chip Lydum, Facilities Director, University of Washington

University of Washington Event Management Staff, Facilities Staff

Coach Brett Brungaard, Strength and Conditioning Coach, UW

Ms. Jennifer Radcliffe, ATC, UW

Mr. Brandon Miller, UW Team Manager and Scorer

Mr. Bryce Currie, Volunteer Assistant

Mr. Greg Peters, Student Athlete, Northwest University, Kirkland

Mrs. Jan Jorg, Volunteer

Mr. David Hallingstad, Volunteer

Mr. David Spear, Volunteer Photographer/Coordinator Extraordinaire

Coach Ernie Woods, CybersportsUSA, Statistical Data for Event

Mr. Todd Kozinka, Planet-Hoops.com, DVCoach Analysis for Event

The "One and Only" venerable, Smitty from Athletic Supply

Mr. Al Cox, Al Cox Signs

Mr. Dan Vetras, Talisma, Support Sponsor

Coach Marv Harshman, Hall of Fame UW Coach

Coach Lorenzo Romar, UW Men's Coach

Coach Tia Jackson, UW Women's Coach

Mr. Frank Smoll, PhD, Sports Psychologist, UW

Mr. Ron Smith, PhD, Sports Psychologist, UW

Coach Stan Morrison, Athletics Director, UC Riverside

Mr. Jeff Compher, Senior Athletics Director, UW

Mr. Bill Hogan, Seattle U., Athletics Director

Mr. Tom Box, Seattle Pacific University, Athletics Director

Charles E. Robertson, Senior Lecturer, Emeritus, Physicist

Coach Billy Rodgers, Sonics-Storm Community Relations Director

Ms. Karen Bryant, Sonics-Storm, Senior Vice President

Coach Bob Hill, Consultant to Event

Coach Pete Newell, Consultant to Event

Coach Bill Fitch, Consultant to Event

Mr. Jim Fisher, Actor, playing Dr. James Naismith

Mr. Shane Johnson, J & R Woodworking, Co-builder of Platforms

Mr. Terry Sayers, Foundation to Finish, Co-builder of Platforms

Mr. Scott Takeda, sirkit.com, Video Producer

Ms. Diondra Perry, Production Assistant

Mr. L.T. Arnold, First Aid / EMT

Bob Schmitt, Oppenheimer & Co., Bellevue

FSN: Bill Kcazaraba, Tim McQuillan, Jon Bradford, Pat Brown

KJR SportsRadio 950: Rich Moore, DickFain

Seanboy Perry, Director of Towel Boys under baskets

Patrick Hillis, Team Attendant

Northwest Harvest Food Bank: Darla Weideman and Staff

Special thanks to Coach Newell's "step up" student athlete volunteers who made this even possible.

Family Sports Life Today announces a coaching clinic that will be held before the "For the Love of the Game" basketball exposition on Saturday, June 16th 2007. Coach Tom Newell and Coach Ernie Woods will direct the clinic, which starts at 9:00 AM.

Other guest coaches include Marv Harshman, UW Men's Basketball Coach Lorenzo Romar, Sonics Asst. Coach Gordie Chiesa; Joe Callero, Seattle University; John Van ***, Northwest University; Cheryl Sorenson, Head Coach, Bellevue Community College; Alton Lister, former NBA player, current Mesa Community College head coach; Paul Fortier, UW Asst. Coach; and Lance LaVetter, UW Director of Basketball Operations.

The clinic is open to all levels of coaches. The clinic will emphasize mentoring Assistant Coaches and new Head Coaches.

Topics covered during the clinic will include: "Player Development as an Assistant Coach", "Offensive Post Play", "Defensive Matchups", "Wing Release and Footwork upon Reception of Ball", "Ball Handling Drills for Skills", and "How to Interview with Confidence and Vision."

Coaches will participate in various stations and sessions on court.

Registration is from 8:30-9:00 AM. Clinic is from 9:00 until noon. Door prizes will be awarded. Box Lunch will be provided. Bring your tennis shoes. All coaches at every level are invited.

The clinic is FREE.  If signing up for clock hours, the tuition for the clininc is $25, which covers tuition and the box lunch. The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) has approved the clinic for clock hours.

For more information:  Contact Tom Newell
FamilySportsLifeToday [at] gmail.com

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, the organization that governs high-school sports in Washington State, has drafted guidelines on unacceptable behavior that they hopes to implement throughout the state by the beginning of next school year. These guidelines ban booing, organized chants targeted at a single player, and other signs of disrespect.

Coach Tom Newell and Coach Guy Perry will discuss the proposed ban on in their Friday, March 8th podcast.  What do you think?  Let us know and we'll try to include it in the podcast.

Email us at FamilySportsLifeToday@gmail.com.  Or give us a call at (206) 20-COACH or (206) 202-6224.

See the news story at http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/web/vortex/display?slug=ko07&date=20070307

Real Life Issues with Tissues 
The Day After Suspension...: "How to deal with the reality of making poor offcourt choices in a young student athlete's life..."  

This is a telephone exchange with one of my students the other day...

"Hi Coach, I've been trying to reach you and wanted to bring you up to date on how I'm doing...

When the season first started, I was doing okay until I hurt my quad training on my own trying to get into better shape for basketball, and it didn't get any better so I missed a few games and wasn't playing for awhile as it affected my knee's stability also...

BUT, the reason I am calling you, Coach is because I did something over the Holidays that got me into some serious trouble... I've NEVER been in trouble before, but went to this party that was at a teammate's house and their parents were gone, and it ended up getting busted by the Police... There was alcohol there and a lot of people... I went to it because my friends and teammates were going also and it was on MySpace for the invitation... Anyway, Coach, I was suspended along with 7 Seniors and a couple of other players on the Varsity and so were the Cheerleaders and some other students... The suspension is for the season, and I hope you'll forgive me and you'll still allow me to train with you on weekends..."

Here is my reaction...

"I am not disappointed nor discouraged by this life lesson of yours, Harold, rather I think your experience of understanding what "value" choices one makes when a student athlete has everything to do with leadership and listening to your conscience: "this doesn't feel right, I don't think I should go or do this now...". . .1 am sorry to hear about your basketball injury and perhaps this is a blessing in disguise so it can properly heal and you can come back strong in the Spring... It is difficult sometimes to know when we're given the freedom to make choices, both personal and "following others", (which invariably leads to something not-so-positive in the end for any teenager) and the end result causes harm to yourself or others (Family, teammates, coaches, classmates et al), you suffer the consequences, and in your case, suspension from an activity that you truly love and depend upon while attending high school...

That is not an easy remedy/lesson to accept or believe should be the consequence for your choice, but it is the school and team's rules that you broke and everyone has to suffer the same demise...

Coach Tom's suggestions...

 "Harold, have you sat down and handwritten a personal apology letter to the Principal, Athletics Director and your Coach?  Then I highly recommend you do this to demonstrate to them your complete acceptance and contrition for making a poor off court decision, and one that you will hopefully never make again as a minor... I am sure that your former teammates who also are suspended, the Seniors would not consider doing such, and now that you have two years of high school left you are presenting to the Administration and your Coaches that you indeed realize the ills of your mistake and hope they will forgive you for this event... Also, I hope you will find some way in your community whereby you can volunteer at a Boys and Girls Club, working with the kids there, thus demonstrating a leadership skill necessary to remind you of how important your decisions are away from your parents, coaches and others... I look forward to seeing you again in the gym with us, and you will survive this experience in positive fashion, Harold, and that is what is most important in the end: accepting responsibility..."

Hey Coach!
I play another sport besides basketball. The tryouts are a couple of days after my other activity's season is completed. What can I do to successfully prepare for basketball tryouts?

Don't Panic!! Talk with your present activity coach and ask him/her if you can have permission to "work out" on weekends on your own (as long as it doesn't interfere with your present team's activity). Take 5 mins. everyday, one month or earlier, and begin a stationary 1 minute dribble drill, using your right hand first, keeping a tab in your mind on the number of dribbles in this minute, then switch over to the other hand, and repeat the same sequence, keeping a tab on the number of bounces in a minute. The next drill is a stationary crossover drill that has your feet apart (shoulder wide), and you crossover dribble from right to left, all the while keeping your head up eyes forward, but still able to "see" the ball in your periphery. You can also do this drill with your eyes closed! Yes, and it is a great drill to practice everyday as well. This drill should be for at least 2 minutes. The reason for keeping "tabs" on your dribble count in the beginning drill, is to remind you to improve by 1 or more dribbles each day you practice this on your own. It will increase your confidence with the ball and at the same time prepare you for the "tryouts" that loom ahead.

- tn

Hey Coach!
What are the most important things to remember when trying out for any sport?

Stay in shape!!! Coaches have a hard time with players who try out and haven't put the time in all summer or the offseason to prepare for the "days" of tryouts. If you think you can get by on 3-4 days of workout a couple of weeks prior to the tryout date... forget it. You are setting yourself up for failure and maybe even getting nauseous and sick. There is no reason a high school athlete who knows what the drill requirements will be for the activity should come into a tryout without some preseason conditioning under their belt. I have more participants in tryouts fail because they didn't prepare properly. Preparation defined as follows:
1) strength and conditioning regimen... personal trainer, select team experiences...
2) practice repetitions for experience and success...
3) playing in competitions in order to develop better habits and improved skills.., if you are competing in another after school activity this covers that area of preparation.

Important Website Addresses to seek more information on the NCAAs, NAIAs, and National Community College Association:

- tn

Hey Coach!
I have a "dream" to play college hoops someday... is that too lofty of a goal today?

Not necessarily. If you have invested the time, effort, and discipline to improve your skills throughout each season, then you will be the best judge as to whether or not your skills are comparable to the "next level" of competition. This is especially true if you are playing on an AAU travel team. That experience alone reveals many "secrets" about your game, and the talent you may possess for playing at the intercollegiate level. You must also keep in mind that there are several different levels of intercollegiate competition in basketball: D-1,2,3; NAIA 3 levels, plus Christian School 1, 2; and Community College competitions. Not all schools provide athletic scholarships, but you may find a college that welcomes your application and interest in their school and in some cases will refer your success as an interscholastic athlete to the coaching staff.  True story.

-tn

Hey Coach!
Basketball is my primary sport. We have a new coach and helshe doesn't know anything about me. What can I do to help my coach know more about me as a team player and person?

Great question! Put together a one page questionnaire that you have drafted for the benefit of this new coach. This information would allow the coach to assess your background with the sport...  what you did this past summer... whether or not you attended a basketball camp and/or played on a select team. Also include the information on community service experiences, if you have done so to date. Be sure to put down your attainable goals both for school and athletics. This information will assist the coach(es) in assessing your leadership skills as well as your commitment to competing at the high school level. Information to any coach is golden. It helps them to understand their team better and provides an insight as to the team's strength and perhaps weaknesses.

-tn