“This book is dedicated to Coach Brian Young & the 2012-13’ Fighting Tivy Antlers.” TRAIN.EARN.ALIGN.MYSELF
A WEEK IN THE LIFE OF TIVY ANTLER BASKETBALL
Many of us have been part of a team at some point in our lives but it is rare to see a
group of people from different backgrounds come together to unite as family. Coach Brian
Young and his team are family. I gave Coach a scrap piece of paper one day and asked him
to write an acronym for the word team. Forgetting I had gave him the paper, days later he
returned it. It said “train,earn, and align myself.” This explained how each member of the
team was so calm and centered . They practiced together, shared eachother’s pain, cared
about on another, won together....but most of all were mentally one with themselves and
My week with Coach Young and the Tivy basketball squad started bright and early on
a Monday morning. Players strolled in from the parking lot around 7:30 to get ready
for practice at 8. They all seemed a bit tired so I asked one of the shooting guards why
everyone seemed so groggy. He laughed and said “they’re probably still tired from
that 6am practice saturday..we worked pretty hard that day.”
I know sports teams had it rough, but a high-school basketball team? I learned soon
that being a part of this team was easier said than done. I then asked how they start
“game-week”, he replied, “practice.”PRACTICE SACRIFICE
Meet Coach Brian Young. This is the first and last face players see when they enter Tivy gymnasium. He is all about practice. Not just repitition, but correct repitition, he says is the key to a winning team. Coach outlines his practice down to the minute and makes sure his players give themselves the best chance possible to win. Early in the morning usually at 8am, he makes the team line up in front of him, hands behind back, silent. He adresses all the players and lets them know what will be going on, what they need to work on, and whatever else needs to be said. This plays into his thoughts on team. Train together.
It seems as though everyone on the team is in sync during practice. The team works on certain fundamentals like shooting, dribbling, passing, but much more goes into each Tivy practice. The first one of the week is probably the most in-tense because everybody competes each week for a starting line-up. The starting line-up doesn’t change often but when it does it is usually because of effort at practice. After drill after drill...play after play..and sprints. The team then goes to class.
It is tough to maintain two things such as basketball and schoolwork. The players are not
allowed to play if they fail, so school always comes first in the teams’ eyes. They maintain a
balance both mentally and physically. Although this is taxing, it is also what it takes to be a
Tivy Antler. When beginning to prepare for “game week” it is certain that all players and the
coach as well...practice sacrifice.
For Coach Young preparation never stops and he usually goes on weekly scouting trips in order to better asess his competition. Coach might also study game film after practice in order to give his team an edge. During practice the team runs through plays and they have a scout defense on the floor at this time which is a mimic of the defense of their upcoming opponents. Pre-paring mentally for the game is high up on Coach’s list of priorities for the week. He makes sure his teams knows the ins and outs of their opponent before even stepping on the court with them.
The players usually endure a five practice per week schedule on top of a game each week. The day before the game Coach Young gives the player a written test quizzing them on the knowledge of their upcoming oponent. Even when practice is not in session the players are always preparing. This is where the players must align themselves mentally for the game. This is “game week” and preparation is key. Basketball never stops and the opponent never sleeps.
There is certainly no “I” in team. However, each player on the team must be at one with himself in order to help the group be the best they can be. I have seen how tough this struggle can be on these young athletes. I caught up with Antler’s shooting guard Dillon Young, number two of the Antlers so he could take me through his pre-game or actually weekly rituals. This was one player that stood out when it came to preparing for the game.
The week starts, is filled with, and ends with practice for the Tivy Basketball team. After the first practices of the week the players start to get more juices flowing in anticipation for the game on Thursday night. After afternoon film sessions on Tuesday Dillon Young of the Antlers showed me the ropes. Basically he helped me understand what it takes to be a player at the next level and how to really develop skills. When I asked him what he does to prepare and balance himself during the week told me this... “I have to keep centered mentally when I approach the game..it’s a must! There are kids twice me size out there competing for the same scholarship I want. To answer the question though I put up about 500-800 shots a day in my free time and basically practice out of practice (he laughs). Coach has instilled in me the values I hold and even though the game is coming up nothing changes. I still keep a clear head but take care of my grades as well. The only thing that changes is the closer it comes to gameday...I guess you could say I smell prey.”
MID-WEEK THOUGHTSfrom a player’s perspective
As I observed the players coming out of the locker room after one of their early morning practice one might’ve thought it was already game day. Usually you would see teenagers horsing around when no one is watching. I noticed that the players would not give off more than a focused smile. I was already excited for the game, how could they not be? The answer was simple, it wasn’t that they weren’t ready or looking forward to playing. They were showing focus. They were practicing patience. Patience is a virtue, some people don’t ever grasp that concept, but this team taught it.
Any of the Tivy Antler practices would be taxing on a regular individual. The middle of the week may be the hardest for the players because they have to deal with the hype, school, themselves, amongst other things. The players can never get content on something they have done because in this program nothing but perfect is really acceptable. These players are very grounded individuals with good head on their shoulders. It is even game week protocol that Coach Young administor a test the day before the game examining what the players have soaked in during practice time in terms of their opponent. If you fail the test you do not play simple as that. Train together and earn together.
It is game day. The community and students line the stands in anticipation some even raise signs with the players faces. There is definitely no lack of school spirit in the gym on game day. The freshman and junior varsity teams play before and the Tivy Antler varsity squad waits for their chance to take the court. These players know that now is the time when everything must come together and everything they have worked so hard on this week will be on display. There is a cer-tain atmosphere about the moments right before the players take the court to warm up that chills the bones, especially to an athlete. This is where this team will show that they are more than what people see.
Coach Young addresses his team on more time before they step out onto the court. This is not the usual pre-game speech. He does not necessarily need to motivate the players because they have worked on this since they started play-ing the game. This is just another week for them. It is a home game and tensions are high in the indoor gymnasium. At this point in time there is no going back and expectations are high. There is no room to mess up. It comes to a point when it is more than a game and the look in this teams eyes says it all. They have already trained together and gath-ered themselves for the game...it is now time to earn together as a team.
The game is underway and the Tivy Antlers jump out into an early lead. Its showsthat all the practice they have participated in all week has paid off. It is clear that the Antlers have a lot of knowledge on their opponent.
The Tivy Antler fans cheer their team along as the startingcenter of the Antlers gets a break-away dunk capitalizing onthe opponent’s mistakes.
This will always be an image stuck in my head, something to remember. A coach that cared a little bit more than average who pushed his team to reach their full potential. Coach Brian Young leads his team to victory once more and with this win they clinch a playoff birth. It is Tivy’s 18th year in a row to make the playoff in Texas 4A basketball.