Saturday, March 16, 2013


The Albany State Great Danes played a thrilling game this morning/afternoon to earn the right to go to the annual NCAA dance. Tomorrow night college basketball fans, especially those with an allegiance to a particular team, will wait to hear who will play whom, where, starting this week. An hour long television program is devoted to revealing the dancing partners and the location of the games. Those who follow Albany will be tickled when they hear who we'll play even if the opponent is the number one team in the nation and the Danes have to travel to Bulgaria to play.

Today's game began ominously as Vermont took a 10-0 lead, but then the main stud for Albany hit a clutch jump shot and we (note the pronoun) responded by taking the lead.  The first half ended with an eight point lead for my alma mater. The second half saw a Vermont comeback, but two three point shots from an Albany player who had not attempted a single shot prior to the end of the game, secured the win for Albany.

Soon we will find out to whom we will succumb in the tournament, as the chances of being victorious beyond today are negligible.  Still, it will be thrilling to be able to dance in this dizzying and exciting tournament.

A story told by the announcers during the game will stay with me for a while and is revealing not only in terms of what makes sport, enjoyable, but also because of choices we make and why we make them.

The coach for Vermont is in his second year with the team. In his first year he took Vermont to the dance and, as I have explained, came within a few minutes of doing so again this season.  Before coming to Vermont the coach had been a well paid, as in 90 K a year, IT employee.  He saw an ad for a 10K job in Vermont to be the director of basketball operations. That is an 80 K cut for those slow with an abacus.  He talked it over with his wife and she said, that if you don't take this chance, you may regret it the rest of your life. He and his wife moved to Vermont.

The hope was that he would be able to move up to be an assistant coach. After one year, he did not move up and remained as an extremely low paying member of the basketball staff. But then a job opened and he was an assistant. And then, almost miraculously, the head coach at Vermont took another job, and the man who had sacrificed 80 K a year to follow his heart, became the head coach at a division I school. And all he did his first year was take his team dancing.

He lost today, but his story is that miracles happen, if you allow yourself to dream and pursue your dreams.  He could be a high paid, secure, IT person somewhere, which for some might be a dream job. But for him, he wanted something else.  He followed his heart, which may be hurting today, but has been nourished and, regardless of today's outcome, allows for him to enjoy this dance, this life.

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