Adding the new with the old

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On Aug. 21, 2017, most people were talking about the total solar eclipse that occurred for the first time since 1979. As miraculous as seeing the eclipse occur that afternoon I was about to witness something even more breathtaking.

My wife gave me a call informing me that she “might be in labor.” She went on to say that she would call me back if things progressed.

Within half an hour I received another call saying that she was still having pain and that, “maybe we should head to the doctor just to be safe.” She was on her way to get me.

Yes … I am aware of several things I could have done better with this, my fourth child. Why was she driving? Why did I not demand that she stay in place for me to come get her? Why didn’t I put my folded clothes into the drawers the night before? OK, that last one was more of an every-week occurrence that just happens to be on my mind.

Within 10 minutes she arrived at my office and we started our 40 minute drive to the hospital. I had to find a way to get through the downtown St. Louis traffic and to the hospital fast enough to avoid Googling “how to deliver a baby in your car.”

Luckily everything went well and we walked into the hospital with her still carrying the baby in her belly. She went through some quick diagnostics and the nurse looked at my wife saying, “You know you are having this baby today right?”

I guess she was in labor after all.

We have three other young children, so experience-wise we were ready, but how prepared can you really be? There are so many variables that take place when you are blessed with a new child in the home.

My new unborn child started getting my coaching mind spinning while I was sitting in the delivery room waiting for him or her to arrive. Still-unknown-baby was already keeping me on my toes!

The reality is that adding a member to your team in any way is going to affect your team. As a coach you would love for a newly added member of your team to be easily accepted and loved from day one.

This is not the case. In fact, often there is some push-back from team members. There is a certain amount of competition that takes place.

As a coach, you have to be prepared to add a member to your team. No matter what level you coach, new team members require more attention. It could be time spent moving them into their dorm, getting them acclimated to time management, or extra time spent teaching them your team terminology.

This attention is vital to their growth, but it is also attention being taken away from the returning members of your team. You cannot lose sight of that.

You cannot forget to cover the basics, push them to their potential, and expect them to improve athletically and socially on their own.

I saw this firsthand within 10 minutes after my Solar Eclipse Day baby was born. My team at home consisted of an 8-year-old boy, and two girls ages 6 and 4. My team was beyond excited to meet this new Five-Star All-American member that was about to be added.

The girls were hoping for a new girl. My son was desperately wanting a brother.

My team entered the delivery room with the same anticipation and excitement children have coming down the stairs to see what Santa left them under the tree on Christmas morning.

When my son learned that he had ANOTHER baby sister, tears welled up in his eyes. He knew he was supposed to be happy. He knew he should not show any sadness or disappointment. You could see he was trying his hardest.

What I witnessed next was one of the most amazing coaching moments I have ever witnessed. My wife – who had just pushed nearly 8-pound baby out of her body and was completely exhausted and in pain – took over the room.

She had every right to tell my son “it is not about you … grow up and do not ruin this moment!” Believe me, it was on the tip of my tongue. But she realized IMMEDIATELY that her job wasn’t to focus all the attention on our new team member. Instead she knew that each member of our team needed love.

Just because my 8-year-old has been with us the longest didn’t mean that he was prepared for this change. He wanted a brother. He wanted someone to side with him when his sisters were ganging up on him. In his mind if he had a new baby brother he had a chance to finally win the “boys vs. girls” votes that always seem to take place in our home.

My son was assured that his new sister was a great thing and that in fact his role on our team was even more important now.

I sat there and in the chaos of the moment was in awe. On the day of the first solar eclipse in nearly 38 years I became a better coach and person.

As a parent or coach, it is imperative that you give proper attention and preparation to all members of your ever evolving teams. It does not mean that each person needs the same quantity of time. However, it does mean that everyone needs to be given the same quality of attention that will lead them to their peak performance level.

If you ever feel like you have to choose between giving attention to one person of your team instead of another, just remember it could be worse. You could have just given birth!

Brian Barone played basketball at Texas A&M University and Marquette University and holds a master’s degree in communications. He now coaches men’s basketball at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

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