Coaching the Coach

by Aaron Castleton

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    The high point of the season came when we got on our knees.

    Before basketball games, there is always a sense of excitement as adrenalin starts to flow. When I was in junior high playing for a local team, the feeling was no different. Everybody in the locker room would be riled up and excited, ready to play the game. But before we would head out onto the court, I made it a habit of going to a corner of the locker room by myself and kneeling in prayer.

    Then one day things were different. Instead of praying alone, I was joined by two of my teammates who had asked me where I was going. When I told them, they asked if they could participate with me. Before long, word had spread and all my teammates knew about the prayer I had before every game. It was then we decided to have a prayer together as a team. When we asked Coach Thompson to join us, he obliged as long as he didn’t have to offer the prayer. That day in that huddle of young men there was a spirit that cannot be described.

    At our next game, we were playing horribly and nothing was going right. In the middle of the second quarter, Coach Thompson called time-out and told everybody to drop down to one knee. He was going to offer a prayer. Though there were vocabulary words not often heard in prayers, the Spirit was felt.

    By the end of the year I received some awards for the season I had played. However the most meaningful award for me was when I saw old rough-and-tough Coach Thompson, humble and in tears, talking about the basketball team that taught him how to pray again.

    Photography by Steve Bunderson