The analogy of rebuilding a basketball team relates to meeting all challenges in life.
University of Wisconsin Coach Bo Ryan faced a big obstacle when he had only one returning starter for his basketball team. He decided that he needed a strategy to deal with this challenge. Thus Coach Ryan began the fall by introducing his new team to a hill in a nearby park. It was one of those hills that make for a great fast sled run – tall and steep. The conditioning began with six runs up the hill. As his team lay panting with exhaustion, Ryan announced, “We’re going to work up to 22.” The players thought he was crazy. Yet by the end of the month they had mastered the challenge and the hill.
By meeting the challenge they had strengthened their trust in their coach and one another. They continued working on their skills and pulling together as a team. By the end of the season the team earned a chance to win the Big Ten Crown.
The season came down to a match against Minnesota, the rival favored to win. Wisconsin was down by 13 points with 13 minutes yet to play and the prospects were looking bleak. But one of the players had a feeling that “we would pull together” and they did – and won the competition!
That victory reminded the team of their triumph over the hill. The team won more games in the last few minutes when they clutched together to pull off a win. The players never forgot the hill. One team member recalled, “When we were hit with adversity, we had something in the back of our minds that we accomplished together.” Their experience with The Hill kept them going.
Coach Ryan put it this way, “What’s the most important thing? How the players feel about themselves.” And that feeling started with a sprint up a very tough hill.
We all have challenges and hills to climb… physical trials, relationships – endings and beginnings, bills to pay, problems to solve, careers to manage, skills to learn. Perhaps we can follow the model of the Wisconsin basketball team and remind ourselves of past accomplishments (obstacles and hills we have climbed, fears we have overcome) and use these memories to meet our current challenge and conquer yet again.