Having seniors on your team is a great thing, you get to have their maturity, refined skill set, drive to do their best since this is the last time they will where the school colors on the hardwood, it also means they will be moving on into the next phase of their lives soon.
Since they are moving on you will get invited to a lot of graduation parties where you'll eat too many foods you really like but probably shouldn't eat. (The toughest time is when you get invited to several graduation parties on the same day. Do you really need a piece of cake at all three? Of course you do, these kids only graduate from high school once. lol)
Now that we've decided it's okay to have cake at every graduation party, we need to decide what graduation gift you should get your basketball players.
Choose A Graduation Gift That Reflects Your Programs Values
I've done several different types of graduation gifts in the past: gift cards, cash, pictures, t-shirts, goodie baskets. I've never really felt like any of these items encompass what I tried to instill in each player as a part of my program for the last few years. Don't get me wrong, I don't think any of these gifts are bad or wrong, they just don't seem to be in line with the values we talked about and demonstrated everyday as we met before practice and in our one on one meetings, things like teamwork, leadership, sacrifice, humbleness, loyalty, togetherness.
The Gift I Choose To Give.
What I choose to give to my parting seniors is a book. I'll share with you a couple of great books in just a second, but first I want to tell you why a book is my go to gift.
I have four reasons why I choose books:
- They can hear a similar message from another coaches point of view. There are books out there that align with my ways of coaching and building a team and I think it means a lot to a player to hear the same message from another coaches point of view.
- A lot of players think they may want to go into coaching or are pursuing sports at a higher level. (If I knew a player was into something else that also fell in line with the values I tried to instill I would grab a non-sports book as well.)
- Foster a love of reading that has been lost by too many men. One of the tragedies in young men is they don't read enough. Grabbing a book to read opens a lot of doors and ideas that make people think critically. The love of reading is something our boys have been robbed of and in a small way I hope to help them find a love for reading.
- Books create connections. I had player who was a 12th man on the team who wanted to go into coaching, so I gave him a book as a gift. As he read the book at Michigan State University in one of the common areas he was approached by one of the MSU basketball players. The player asked him what he was reading and they struck up a conversation. This led my former player being invited to attend Bible study with a bunch MSU players. He attended his entire freshman year. If one of your players could hang out with some of the nations best collegiate players and future NBA players would they? Of course they would. These experiences were created because of a book he was given. Wow!
There are a lot of basketball or coaching books that just teach basketball and I want my players to get more than basketball from me and the program I am building. I want my players to be better people who truly believe in their values and want more than just good stats to remember when it's all said and done. Of course, I want them to be good players with great skill, but one day no one will care about their basketball skill and this is when I hope they look back and truly appreciate their time in my program.
The two books I use as my go to gifts are Lead for God's Sake, by Todd Gongwer and Season of Life, by Jeffrey Marx. Both books are sports related and have a message that goes beyond winning and losing.
Lead for God's Sake is great for players who are all about basketball. Season of Life is a football book for those kids who love sports, but maybe basketball isn't their first love. Either way, the players I have given these books to have given me great feedback and enjoyed them both.
I've included a snippet on each book and a link to a video that explains the book way better than I could in a blog post.