What a season. What a team. What a coach.

I haven’t had the opportunity to get to know Greg Gober as well as I hope to in the future, but the little I do know tells me it should be no surprise at how well his Runnin’ Indians performed this year. A buzzer-beater away from going to the state playoffs is not only something to be proud of, getting that far is also the foundation for what the ball coach is building over at Solis.

Basketball, like every sport, can provide a young person with more than just a culture of competition. In fact, sports give every player the opportunity to spend countless hours with coaches who have far greater impact than, in the case of Indians’ basketball, teaching a young man how to shoot, dribble, defend and score. More important than any of those learned abilities is what a coach can teach a young man or woman about navigating successfully a tough world with societal landmines just waiting for their arrival. Given the variety of destructive tendencies embedded in today’s society, quality coaches and teachers alike are vital to a young person’s development and survivability.

Greg Gober, his coaching staff and the young men we call Runnin’ Indians gave us a vivid example this year of what all sports should look like. A common goal, players understanding their role, respectful behaviors, adherence to a game plan, caring for each other and a commitment to winning will always lead to success both on the scoreboard and in life. There are plenty of athletes this world has known who had great talent but fell terribly short when it came to understanding team concepts and, as a result, failed. Not so with our basketball team and I think we should not only be proud of that, we should be grateful, as well.

What impresses me most is that the only real difference between this year’s team and last is the coaching staff. That is to say the same players, same facilities, same type of schedule, same conference existed a year ago when the team was, at best, average. While most of us were only there to see the team perform on game day, what Coach Gober and his staff did day after day, early morning after early morning in exhaustive preparation was to instill a system by which a team could win consistently and in which every player believed. That’s how you win on the court, in the classroom, the boardroom and in life. When leaders lead the right way, players will follow. So will employees, students, a family and anyone else for whom such leaders are responsible. Winning, in all endeavors, only comes when passion, energy, a well-defined system and a unified group comes together for the same purpose. That’s what we saw in the Runnin’ Indians this year and that’s why the team came so close to what we would have said was impossible this time last year. The truth is that until parents, business leaders, pastors, community leaders, teachers, coaches, et al. learn what effective leadership is and provide it, a community will fall short of reaching its goals.

As for Greg Gober and his team, Waxahachie not only saw an inspirational performance on the basketball court, we got a real good glimpse of the kind of success this world desperately needs.

So thank you, Coach. Job well done.