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An Open Letter To Coach Cal (Coaches, Players & Fans)

Dear Coach Cal –

Coach, I am sure you have gotten your fair share of these letters and I honestly don’t expect you to stop and read this but I wanted to take just a few minutes and share my thoughts from this season with you, other coaches, players and the fans. I’m no basketball expert. I’m no sports writer. I never played past the 10th grade in high school. I have never coached the game outside of Upward basketball at my church, Immanuel Baptist Church, here in Lexington. I have no credentials that would warrant this post other than the fact that I am a fan. As a fan, I am …..  “An enthusiast devoted to my team.”

I am a fan of the greatest and most successful basketball program in the country and I am dang proud of it. I am a fan of you and all of your coaches. I am a fan of the players. I am a fan of the program. I am a fan of the University of Kentucky (I graduated from UK).

As a fan, I want us to win every game. As a fan, I want you to recruit the best players to play at the University of Kentucky. As a fan, I want championships. As a fan, I want our guys to play with grit and determination each and every night. As a fan, I want to see you get fired up on the sideline in an effort to light a fire under our players and to get our fans cheering for our team. As a fan, I love to hear UK being talked about on SportsCenter in a positive manner. As a fan, I want to see this program be successful.

As a fan, I (we) want and expect so much BUT there are a few realities that all fans (including myself) must understand. They seem so simple but often forgotten.

You recruit the best of the best but they are still 18-19 year old kids who are no different from other 18-19 year olds. They will make mistakes, say dumb things, sometimes lose focus, act selfishly, not respond to criticism always in the most professional manner and so much more! They are freshmen in college with a national spotlight on them each and every day. They need support, not criticism!

Losing is part of understanding how to win. At this point in the season, losing is not the end all. I’d rather lose now than at the end of this month. Learning comes through losing (failing).

We get each team’s VERY best. It’s the program that Coach Cal has developed and every team comes with a “nothing to lose” mentality when they play us. I’m not certain that our team understands this yet because we DON’T bring our very best each night. I say that because it’s a reality not my opinion.

I am certain there are hundreds of other realities that could be written (and probably much better than mine) but I wanted to just list a few.

Coach Cal, other coaches, players and fans ……. this season is not over, in fact it’s just beginning. I am urging all fans to encourage and support this team moving forward. If you have something to say make it positive. Criticism breeds criticism, so cut the negative stuff!

Coach Cal, other coaches and players, I will end with just a few words that I used this year in coaching my 3rd-4th grade Upward basketball team at my church …… very simple but relevant:

“We will both win and lose as a team. We are playing a team sport, not an individual sport.”

“Whether we win or lose doesn’t matter. How we respond to winning and losing is what matters.”

“Having fun is part of the experience.”

“Whoever wants the ball the most (grit and determination) usually ends up with the ball. You have to want it more than the other team.”

So Coach, this season is far from being over. In fact, it’s just beginning. Fans that’s for us too! Let’s get behind the best coach in the game, the best program in the country and his players. This team needs fans not more coaches. We cheer for the greatest college basketball program in history. Let’s show encouragement and support for these coaches and this team.

WHO’S WITH ME?

P.S. Coach – Could you please stay in the coach’s box on the sideline ….. this team needs you from start to finish of every game! I’m kidding about the coach’s box but very serious about needing you from start to finish!

Yours Truly,

Bradley Stevenson (A Fan)

* I will admit that I have not always been the most positive fan throughout this year but I have remained loyal to our team!

Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America

See my follow-up post with Ron Edmondson “How Leadership Principles Apply To Coach Cal & The UK Basketball Program.”


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