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Core Value 3: Toughness (Mental + Physical)

It was our goal to be the toughest team physically and mentally in our conference. To us, that meant we'd be the most conditioned, best executing, most find-a-way-to-win program in our league. We would practice with championship habits and play the full 40 no matter what the scoreboard said. Our unrelenting style of play would be reinforced by the environment we created and our togetherness. Ultimately, we wanted to be in peak physical and mental condition to take what we want. Toughness was our identity. We started our first team meeting each year with the same saying. There are 9 teams in the conference. There are 6 teams who make the playoffs and historically Lesley has not been one of them, missing the conference playoffs for 9 straight years. But, that was about to change. That means one team who usually makes the playoffs is not going to anymore. We are going to take their seat at the table. We don't know who it will be - We don't really care. We care about us and creating a program with winning habits and serving our values until we get what we want.

It really started in our first year. We hung our hat on toughness and defense. That year, we had 5 returning players, 2 of whom started previously, 3 rarely played. We filled out our roster with 5 players whose primary sport was baseball. 3 of them played basketball in high school and 2 didn't. We took our lumps early, but delivered the same message daily - We would honor toughness and be intolerant of selfish behavior. We hammered this home. Everything was a lesson and our guys ran a lot of sprints, until they learned how to interact respectfully with one another while still being able to push. That year, we won 2 games which is probably 2 more than we should have won, but what's more important is that we set the tone for toughness in our program. We set the record for fewest points allowed in a half in Lesley history (13) and we lost 7 conference games by 6 points or less. Now, I'm not into moral victories - but there was something to build on. It was a way about us, an attitude, a identity.