Learning life lessons through volunteering and basketball

Qaadir McFadden. (Staff photo by Jock Lauterer)


Imagine this:

The game is tied with two seconds on the clock, and coach calls his last full timeout.

He draws up a play to kick the basketball out to one of the two shooters on the court. When the timeout is up, the girls come onto the floor to run the play that was drawn up — but are immediately locked down.

That’s when you learn to analyze and make a play in five seconds. The point guard takes the ball and lobs it to the center for her to make the lay up and win the game.

This is what it’s like for me, being a manager and assisting on a girl’s high school basketball team — and it’s been a learning experience for me.

On our team, the Research Triangle Raptors (5-6), for me to help assist and manage a team at an early age is complicated. I’m still learning new things, whereas when you’re a little bit older you’ve experienced and witnessed more and are able to help make pointers.

My team is easier to manage and coach because they like criticism. Boys’ teams, on the other hand, don’t really listen to what’s wrong unless they are open to learning. At this age most boys aren’t.

The downside to coaching youth is they often like to get distracted when practicing. Many students might think volunteering by managing a youth basketball team will not get you far in life, but here is why they’re wrong.

Volunteering for me has benefits beyond basketball.

Managing a team in high school gets me volunteer hours. Colleges commonly look at volunteer hours to see how motivated students are in life.

I’ve learned that management develops teaching and public speaking skills. Public speaking is important especially in school when you are assigned to inform the class on why wind energy is better than nuclear energy, for example. There’s a difference, but you can think of classmates as a team and you’re the coach calling the play.

Volunteering can also teach how to analyze and give feedback. The head and assistant coach often have me record the game, and when it’s half time, they ask what I see working and what is not. Although it puts me on the spot, it allows my mind to sharpen and think faster. There have been many times that I’ve realized something that some of my coaches have told me in the past and you see how it helps our team in the long run.

If nothing else, I’ve learned to always be prepared. It’s like when you draw up a play, you never know what’s going to happen in the game. It’s like life. You can go in planning to do one thing and come out doing something totally different — or something you’ve never even done before.

In my form of volunteering I’m always exposed to something new — nothing is ever limited. Volunteering may not always be fun, but the responsibility is always a life lesson, and the experience is always good, whether at the time you realize it or not.

One thought on “Learning life lessons through volunteering and basketball

  1. Qaadir, the face is ok, but the message is out of site. Not only is this a well written article, it has a lot of substance. I hope the message you are telling here reach many of your peers as it is very powerful!! Proud of you. Love, Granddad.

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