You think it's hard coaching in the Final Four? You think it's tough handling 280-pound seniors, freshmen with agents, athletic directors with pockets full of pink slips?
Please. Try coaching seventh-grade girls. After working with boys for 11 years, I helped coach my daughter Rae's school basketball team this winter. I learned something about seventh-grade girls: They're usually in the bathroom.
In one tight spot I was looking around madly for my best defensive guard to send in. "Where is she?" I yelled.
"In the bathroom, crying," our little guard in the blue rectangular glasses said. "Her friends kicked her out of their group today."
Worse, when one girl ran to the bathroom crying, three others automatically followed to console her, followed by three others to console them, followed by three others who didn't really want to go but were sucked in by seventh-grade-girl gravitational pull. This would always leave just me and the girl in the blue rectangular glasses, who would slurp on her Dum-Dum and shrug.
Students at Rae's small school are required to go out for at least one sport a year, and 11 girls came out for basketball. But you never had the idea the game was more important in their lives than, say, Chap Stick.
For instance we had a forward who never stopped adjusting her butterfly hair clips, even during our full-court press. Before the opening tip-off of our first game, she came back from the center-court captains' meeting and announced, "O.K., the ref said whoever wins the tip thingy gets to go toward that basket."
Well, that would be an interesting rule.
Another difference between boys and girls: Girls have many questions. Our team meetings were sometimes longer than our practices. Apparently girls use team meetings as a chance to process feelings, whereas boys use team meetings as a chance to give each other wedgies.
During our first meeting we had long, emotional deliberations over what our huddle cheer would be and whether we should wear matching bracelets. Then one of our best dribblers stood up, took a deep breath and said, "I have an announcement. I am not going to bring the ball up this year, because last year Sherry got yelled at by everybody because she didn't pass them the ball, and I don't want to get yelled at." As if!