Game Change Nation

Pick Your Team

Imagine walking onto your neighborhood basketball court for your weekly Saturday pick-up game. You and your buddy are chosen to be captains to pick the teams and he announces that he gets all the picks and you are left with the players he doesn’t want. Would you be ok with that? The same question was posed to Paul McDonald by his GameChange co-founder Jack Baric on their “Thru the Tunnel” podcast. Paul’s simple answer was probably the same one you would give, “No.” 

It is interesting that if someone is given the chance to pick their team, the choices they make are taken so seriously, but when choosing a friend, it is often arbitrary things that determine who we roll with. 

As you determine the people you want to spend the most quality time with, do you evaluate things such as common values and similar aspirations? Do you consider if these are people who will be supportive of you during trying times and happy for you when you are successful? However, if you are considering those qualities when you are doing the choosing, do you also have the same qualities when people are picking you to be in their lives?

Coach Geno Auriemma knows a thing or two about picking the right people. He has won eleven NCAA national championships, the most in women’s college basketball history, and has coached two Olympic gold-winning basketball teams.

In a press conference, that became a viral YouTube video, Coach Geno went on a bit of a rant when describing qualities that he looks for when recruiting players. Coach Geno places a massive premium on players who are good teammates. Just like picking friends who you know will be rooting for you in life, Coach Geno chooses players who he knows will be supportive of their team. He actually films his team’s bench during games to check his players’ body language. 

Here are excerpts from Coach Geno’s YouTube rant:

“When I watch game film, I’m checking what’s going on the bench. If somebody’s asleep over there, if somebody doesn’t care, if somebody’s not engaged in the game, they will never get in the game, ever! Recruiting enthusiastic kids is harder than it’s ever been so recruiting kids that are really upbeat, loving life, love the game, and have this tremendous appreciation for when their teammates do something well, that’s hard so we put a huge premium on body language.” 

The choices of who you spend your time with can make a great impact on allowing you to live a championship life. What Coach Geno is evaluating goes way beyond the athletic ability of the players he recruits. He is looking for quality human beings that will positively contribute to creating a championship culture on his team. It’s a great model for all of us to follow.

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