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Core Value 2: The Learning Environment (Grit+Grow)

Our next core value was our Learning Environment. Since we were so limited on resources, we had to maximize the time and space that we had together. As a reminder - we did not have our own gym, a full time coaching staff or a recruiting budget. Obviously, we were quite limited in what we could provide, but that was not an excuse to put a limit on what we could accomplish. Quite often people correlate resources to success and that may ring true sometimes. But a lack of resources doesn't definitively mean that you will not be successful. We had to change our perspective and our approach and look at our limited resources as a reason we should succeed, instead of as an excuse why we couldn't.

The few things we did have were a film room, a white board and access to a gym that we rented roughly 2 hours per day. And so, we created an environment where we served grittiness and growth. Mistakes weren't looked at negatively, but instead as a means to learn. And, combined with our foundation of trust and accountability, it created a place where everyone was pushing to improve others and themselves daily. And, the outside world couldn't touch us in our film room or on the court. That's where we were in our element, creating a place where we could all thrive.

It wasn't, however, easy. We knew it would be difficult and we would face adversity more often than not and we'd have to find our way through it. Our grittiness - our ability to persevere - was crucial because of our lack of resources. We were already at a disadvantage, and when it rains it pours. We had to overcome injuries and arguments and miraculous shots but we had to find a way. Anyone who has ever read Angela Duckworth's book "Grit" knows that it's not the talent or the resources that garners success, but instead the unrelenting daily habits. It's the passion and the willingness to keep grinding every damn day. The adversity we faced and our lack of resources hardened us.

So, everyday we maximized what we did have. We did playbook walk throughs on our white board, so everyone knew every play at every position. We had players co lead film, ask questions, be involved and own our film sessions. We also had players give the scouting reports pregame. And when it came to practices and games, we were locked in when we stepped on the court. Everyone bought in and limited distractions. We created an environment where our full focus was basketball. We very seldom coached behavior, body language or effort.

It took a while to get "there" but we built it together and served it everyday. It was important to us to create something bigger than all of us and give to that daily. It meant something to be part of our program and we started to feel that - it almost became tangible. We were growing something special. It started with our foundation and that helped build our environment. Both were vital parts in why we were successful. But, the next step was more about who we were than anything. We had each other, we had our environment... Next, it was time to shape our collective identity...

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