Indiana basketball and our kids

It was a bad day on Friday for Indiana University basketball fans. Fortunately, for most of my readers, the resignation of head coach Kelvin Sampson didn’t really shake up your day too much.

On the other hand, PhilBillPaul and his mom had to talk at least three times Friday afternoon as they compared notes on what they were reading and hearing. When you are born and raised in Indiana and even after you move to Georgia (and Texas where his mom is), being an IU basketball fan is serious stuff!

We are big basketball fans at our house. Our kids started playing basketball when they were seven which, incidentally, is the age we decided to let them try a sport.

Side note: Unless you count when The Grunter was five and he participated in a one week soccer camp. He had absolutely no idea what to do, where to go or why we made him attend. It was because he was our firstborn experimental child and I had read an article about soccer being the best sport to start your child in–which may be true for many but wasn’t for him.

They all played baseball and softball for several years. Roger Leroy even tried diving her freshman year. The girls run cross country at their high school. Scary Baby just finished her second season of basketball at church. They all know how to play golf, bowl and we’ve had some fierce badminton tournaments in the backyard.

Okay, so you get the idea. They’ve been exposed to a variety of sports and we really are a basketball family.

Basketball has become the primary sport that they all love. I’m sure it has something to do with their dad loving it and coaching them. I was personally delighted because it is an indoor sport which means I don’t have to sit in the rain, sleet, freezing cold or blazing sun.

We are also an oddity among parents in our community. Our kids have always been allowed to pick only one extracurricular activity at a time in addition to their full-time job, which is being a student (for those of you who think we’re endorsing slave labor).

In terms of sheer time management, it was the only way we saw to manage our family, our relationship and our life. One of PhilBillPaul’s favorite lines is “We run the kids, they don’t run us.”

Back to this not being about basketball…

We’ve had some lively discussions over the weekend about the shake-up in Indiana and part of the team not showing up for practice and how and why all these things happened.

Bottom line for us: A coach is a teacher and mentor to the team and the players he works with. He has to be held to a higher standard because of his interaction with our kids. Just like a pastor or politician or any other leader.

When I say “our kids” I mean all of our kids – not just mine. I mean it in the sense of “it takes a village” and we are the village.

If the adults are not setting good examples for our kids then we are left with a society full of kids who think it’s okay to lie, cheat and ignore the rules that we are all suppose to abide by. If the coaches, who are suppose to be helping mold our kids into productive members of society, are breaking rules, then we need to hold their feet to the fire when they screw up.

Yes, everyone makes mistakes. (I don’t have enough time left in my life to write about all the mistakes I’ve made and will continue to make.)

Yes, I also believe in forgiveness.

But I also believe in common sense and like to use it especially when others seem to have lost theirs.

Kelvin Sampson let our kids down. Individually and collectively as a team. During a winning season, he let them down in a big way.

If you want the details of how he let them down and why he has been branded as a cheater, here’s an ESPN column with some strong opinions written by senior writer Pat Forde.

Or here is a Sports Illustrated story with less slant and more facts.

But back to our kids

It is time now for all the adults involved with these student athletes to step up and support them as they learn this tough life lesson.

Adults they care about and love will let them down. While no one is perfect, the disappointment that comes when someone lets you down is never easy.

We all need to remind them of their own personal responsibility to surround themselves with role models and mentors and friends who walk the walk with honesty and have the courage to do what is right even when it’s not easy.

If Kelvin Sampson was the reason they chose Indiana University, then they need to find a new reason.

Our bigger message to our kids should be that we are here to help them grow into young men and women with character and integrity. And no one can ever take that away from them without their permission.

That message should be loud and clear in the media but unfortunately it usually isn’t the message we read..

Which really means that we all need to to make sure that message is repeated over and over in our own homes…

Meanwhile, it’s nice to meet another Indiana family here in Georgia.


This picture was taken after the girls earned first place in their basketball league championship and finished with an undefeated season. Woo-hoo!

PhilBillPaul, the girls and John, Lisa and Sharté Foy love to display their team colors whenever possible since we live in the land of rabid lovely Bulldog fans who, coincidentally, wear the very same colors.

Life Lesson (LL): It’s never a wrong time to do the right thing. Thanks Uncle Doug. 🙂

Share a Life Lesson (SALL): Have you had an opportunity to teach your kids a lesson about doing the right thing using sports or a coach’s behavior as an example? Because it may not feel like a big deal but it is. When you do this, you are doing it for all of our kids. Do tell so I can publicly thank you!


One year ago..

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  1. 1
    Rhonda says:

    We too thought having our fourth daughter play soccer was in her best interest… poor child.

    Susan was frozen in fear out on the field. Her approach to the soccer/sports things was to cry, whine, and stand in the middle of the field and every time the ball came her way, she would put her hands in front of her face and crouch as though she was being assaulted!

    We did have her finish out the season, as she had been a part of the decision in wanting to try it out. Certainly she has other strong talents to share, and soccer was not one of them.

    I think Susan realized that just because her sisters were good at something, does not mean she was going to be good at it or more importantly… enjoy doing it. She is very talented in so many other areas of her life and she absolutely excels in her own way.

  2. 2
    Sondra says:


    I LOVE what you are doing here…I feel like I have finally caught up with you and learned even MORE along the way! I have read almost every post and while I have a fleeting thought here and there, nothing justified boring your readers with my input! Until this….we had a great life lesson with sports and I thank God that it turned out well!!

    I too started “Boy” (a fond family nickname given to the eldest male child) in soccer…at 4….it provided (and still provides) great memories of him running the other way while the team drove the ball to the opposite goal, just in time for him to turn around and start heading in the right direction when the team was headed back. While he enjoyed being there, he was clueless. We also tried, t-ball, baseball, tennis and golf. Alas, poor Boy was just not suited for any of the above.

    This was difficult for a family of athletes, espeically since his twin sisters excelled at virtually any sport they attempted and were currently holding state titles in competitive gymnastics. I felt guilty for pushing yet worried about his lack of physical activity. He had begun to gain weight, and was tall for his age, but just didn’t have an athletic bone in his body. He was a loner and would sit on the playground at school and watch as the other boys played. He was always a very, very bright boy, but it broke my heart to see him missing out on so much.

    The summer of Boy’s 8th grade year, I announced he was attending a summer camp. He could pick whichever he liked, but lack of decision on his part would result in football camp at GAC. I felt his size would be an asset for football as he was much bigger than the other boys his age and the lack of “competition” at a summer school camp hopefully would just keep him physically active without the pressure to win at all costs. Whatever he decided, he would not be allowed to sit on the sofa all summer.

    Many tears and “please don’t make me” conversations later, it was time to go to camp. I drove to the field, dropped him off and cried the whole way home. Would my insistence be what drove him to pulling panty hose over his head and robbing mini marts later in life? What if they made fun of him, what if they were mean to him, should I turn around and go pick him back up? How could I have done this horrible thing? What kind of mother was I???

    When I picked him up that day, I was wearing my best nervous smile when I asked “how was it bud?” He couldn’t stop chattering. While he was quick to learn his limitations, it wasn’t so bad. Everyone was cheering for him, encouraging him to finish the task at hand. When the day came that he wasn’t the “last” to finish the drill, it was almost as if he had finished first! The kids, the coaches and the parents congratulated him as if he had won an Olympic Gold medal…and for Boy he had! We were blessed beyond words to find a “supportive” atmosphere for Boy to find his place!!!

    I’m proud to announce that Boy has stuck with football, and has played on the Varsity team for GACS since his sophomore year. He is heading into his senior year now and has many awards and newspaper articles tucked safely away earned through the sport he has learned to adore.

    He runs with a pack of other teammates and is mad at me when I need an errand run that keeps him from training after school with the gang. This sport (which could be ANY sport for your child) has come with many gifts, self confidence, a place to belong, friendship and many life lessons. He has learned to work hard for what he wants, that hard work alone will not guarantee success and that life isn’t fair, but it is worth working for. Football has unbelievably changed Boy’s life for the better!!!!

    Sports, when administered by supportive coaches, can be so much more than a form of exercise and while each child is different, and each child needs to find the perfect place to fit….when they do, it opens up a whole new world!!!!!

    Sorry to ramble on…but hey, you asked for it! 😉 Lots of love!!!

  3. 3
    Sherra says:

    Sondra–Loved your story about Boy and him finding his niche in football. You know how much I believe in helping our kids find the right place to fit in without becoming an overbearing sports parents! You ramble here whenever you want…that’s the whole point of sharing…so we can all learn from each other!!! 🙂


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