This week’s Tribe Spotlight features Steve Manne, the CYM Basketball Coordinator and Head Coach at St Catherine Parish (grades 9 through 12). From its inception the program has prioritized leadership development and community building both on and off the court. Manne’s teams have run the Read & React since 2011.
Our CYM basketball program is for high school students in our religious education program. Since 2012 St Catherine basketball has nearly tripled in size. And although we’ve achieved some success on the basketball court, I don’t believe this is why we are growing. We’re growing because we encourage every student to play. No basketball prerequisites. All are welcome.
Interestingly enough, despite our diverse group, the players have made it clear they want to practice together. No matter how many players, no matter how many teams. They value togetherness.
I share our story because our strengths and challenges are not unique to us. Many programs are able to develop a culture of togetherness. In my mind, the challenge is managing the diversity. We have tennis players, track athletes, linebackers, sisters, brothers, twins, musicians, one player born in Russia, and even a young man pursuing a career in stand-up comedy! Some have played AAU and high school basketball, and some haven’t played at all. The point is this. We love these players all the same. Each is unique. Each is special. And although outcomes are difficult to control, I believe it is possible for every player to maximize their abilities, contribute to team success, and feel great about their basketball experience. The Read & React (R&R) offense has been an asset in helping us achieve those goals. Here are a few reasons it works for us.
Communication: This offense provides us with a common basketball language. After a couple practices each player is capable of working together regardless of their background. One player may know “why” we do certain things. The other may not. But that’s perfectly ok. The team is able to function, and player development becomes the focus. Everyone learns in time.
Community: This offense is a great vehicle for mentoring. As new players come into the program we ask more experienced players to share their knowledge. In time, every player learns how to use the offense to leverage our strengths and probe the defense for weakness. There is nothing more enjoyable then handing our players the “keys to the car” and watching them work together to find scoring opportunities.
Responsibility: Such as the demand of any good parent, the “keys to the car” must be earned. We challenge our players to own the offense. Since the R&R isn’t a series of set plays, they are encouraged to create whatever they want within the boundaries of the offense. Toward the end of the season, the players take more responsibility for running the team.
Drive: We try to avoid a lot of “carrot and stick” motivation (aka championship banners and suicide sprints). We believe the best motivation comes from within. The R&R leverages that sense of self-mastery. The offense has limitless options and the players enjoy constructing actions that result in baskets. So our discussions are rarely about winning. We focus on process. Ironically, when we do that, the winning seems to happen.
Fun: I’ll conclude by saying the Read & React is fun. We try to include 15 minutes of creative scrimmage time in every practice. The players are encouraged to be innovative and find actions that utilize their talents. It’s during this time the players discover roles that fit their abilities and allow them to contribute to a successful team effort.