Wednesday, January 25, 2012


"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it
be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything." Matthew 5:13

I heard a preacher give an interpretation of this scripture that applies to girls basketball in many ways. He reasoned that salt is one of the most powerful substances on earth. Salt influences every environment that it is in. Large bodies of water on earth are undrinkable due to the power of salt.

I have observed the power of salt in girls basketball. I have seen kids come into a failing programs and change the culture. I have seen enthusiastic players motivate their teammates and inspire.
I have also seen the distasteful side of salt. I have seen negative environments change kids. The fervor that some kids possessed going into some programs is now watered down. Here is an example of a coach and a player being salt and having a positive impact on their environment.
  • A couple of years ago, I wrote about former Stevens coach, Steve Sylestine. Here is a portion of the blog I wrote about Sylestine the first time I saw him:
"At half time, Coach Sylestine, dressed in slacks and loafers,always SPRINTS off of the court into the locker room area. He beats his sprinting players to the area to high five and encourage them as they prepare to meet. He then walks away as his players gather and collects his thoughts. This is not commonly seen among coaches and I do not know his motivation. Maybe he is sending a message to his kids that we are excited, prepared and sprinting into the second half of the game as winners."
Sylestine is now at Clark, on the boys side. It is no surprise that his team is 20-7 and positioned for the playoffs. Chad Quisenberry, head coach of Devine HS, often says that "a good coach can coach any sport". Sylestine success validates Quisenberry's philosophy. A good coach is passionate and will be have a passionate effect on his/her players.
  • Using a player as an example, Len'Nique Brown was salt for Wagner. Wagner has benefited from a lot of talent over the past few years. While their coach is respected by her troops, Len'Nique was instrumental in being the on court leader for the T-Birds. Len'Nique was a calming influence for many high strung teammates. Len'Nique was not only the peace maker among her team, she was the spark plug. It was unacceptable for lessor talented teammates to not work hard when Brown always gave it her all. She led by example, earning good grades and often speaking of her faith.
Both Sylestine and Len'Nique are great examples of being the salt of their environments. A major college head coach recently explained that a lot of incoming freshman find it hard to adjust to big time basketball. Not because they are ill equipped from a basketball perspective, but unprepared mentally. This coach went on to explain that the habit of "playing down" and unmotivated in their senior year of high school ingrains bad habits that are extremely hard to break. It takes a salty coach like Sylestine to keep college bound kids engaged. It also takes a kid like Brown to remain focused on goals and not succumb to distractions. Petty jealousy, hating from teammates parents, and mounting pressure all can have a negative impact on players. Len'Nique did not allow these things to dull her light. Like salt, she and coach Sylestine remained tasteful, useful and influential.