As a basketball fan, we just came through my favorite time of year. The University of Michigan had a great run, making it to the NCAA Tournament championship game, and we had a great high school season here in Rochester, too. Rochester High School went to the state quarterfinals and cross-town rival Rochester Adams finished with 21 wins and just one loss.
But, to me, the best high school basketball season took place over at Rochester Stoney Creek High School.
Last year, I had the good fortune to meet Steve Norgrove, the head coach at Stoney Creek. Our daughters played on a travel basketball team together and it was fun to meet a fellow hoops junkie who also has three daughters.
But as much as I enjoyed talking hoops with Steve, I was always a little hesitant to bring up his team. Last season, he went through what must be any coach’s worst nightmare. His team did not win a game – 0-21. It had to be difficult for Steve, but to his credit, I never heard a negative word about his team come out of his mouth. He just kept plugging away, week after week, working hard and preparing his team for each game as best as he could. It just wasn’t their year.
A month or two after the season, we were at an AAU tournament watching our daughters play. Steve started talking about the upcoming 2012-13 season.
“We’re going to win our league this year,” he said.
I admired his confidence and his commitment. But, deep down, I was skeptical. How do you go from winless to league champs in a year?
Steve and his kids rolled up their sleeves over the summer and got to work. Team camps, scrimmages, open gyms, individual workouts. Whatever Steve asked, the kids did. And more. In addition to working on the team’s skills, Steve went to work on their mindset, too. He showed a video of different championship teams, and talked frequently about what it meant to be a champion. He would ask his kids “Who are you?” And they responded, “I am a champion.”
This season rolled around and Stoney Creek won their opener. Just one win had to be a huge relief for Steve and his kids. The first half of the season was up and down, but wins kept coming. After 11 games, Stoney Creek was 6-5 and the league championship was looking like it could really happen. The team caught fire, winning seven of the next eight games, and delivering on what Steve had promised months before. A league championship.
They say sports teach great life lessons, and I think there is one in here for everyone. I’m sure everyone’s felt like they’ve had the equivalent of a losing season every now and then. Maybe it’s a lost job, or a failed relationship or just a run of bad luck. Whatever it is, don’t lose hope. Never stop believing. Keep moving forward and good things will happen.
When I think about what those kids at Stoney Creek did this year and I’m inspired. I still believe, just like Steve did last summer, that great things are around the corner. Not just for my company and for my family, but for the auto industry and for Detroit. The best is yet to come.
As for Steve and the Stoney Creek basketball program? I’m sure they won’t rest on their laurels. I believe next year will be even better. More importantly, so do Steve and his players, and I’ sure their already hard at work looking to improve!