So as I was saying, the Nightmare was just beginning. Not only that we got upset by Italy, and that we were out the medal contention, there was another huge upset that day. Great-Britain lost to France. This was another upset in the world of wheelchair basketball. This meant that we would have to beat one of the best teams in the world to be able to fight for 5th or 6 th place otherwise we would have to fight for a embarassing 7th or 8th place. Talks amungst players started about losing all our funding if we dint finish 5th. Stress levels were at its peak. Late that day we had a practice. The practice was at a very low intensity. We had lots of shooting drills and a couple of team concepts. You could tell that the moral of the team was at its lowest that I have ever seen. I was ready to go all out, to push as hard as I could while we were practicing press breaks. I really dint want to lose the next day. I had the mentality that we just lost a big game, that we were out of the medal round, it was time to go even harder too make sure that we at least finish 5th. That we had to beat Great-Britain, a team that we haven’t beat in the past year but we got closer every time we played them and that we were ready right now. That if there was a time to beat them, it was NOW! Having that mentality, I wanted to go hard, practice hard and play hard. I could feel that other players had the same feeling as I did. I felt the same killer instinct in other players while we were practicing such as Dirt, Bo Hedges, Chad Jassman, Brandon Wagner and others. But at the same time, I saw a different side in others. A side of emotional defeat, of not wanting to be there at that practice. Some players were not pushing hard, or some, not even pushing at all. I got frustrated because I felt like If your not giving your 100%, how is that helping the team and I get better? And I felt like the team, at this time, more than ever, had to regroup, and get better once again, ALL OF US!! I dint know what to do. I was at the same time frustrated but dint want to say anything either cause I knew the moral of the ne player noticed that I was different and that I was really taking it to heart. That player was Ross MAcDonald. After practice he talked to me. He explained it to me in another view, how people were hurt by our loss and different people react differently in situations. I really appreciate him talking to me and comforting me. He made me realize one thing, whether people reacted like me with a burning desire to kill the next day, or the other version, the team needed to regroup and starting having fun again. I made my next game day objective exactly that.
DAY 17: IF YOUR IN A NIGHTMARE, MIGHT AS WELL MAKE IT FUN!!
I’m going to try to make this part short. On this day, my focus was was to bring smiles back and positive energy. The great thing about it, is that Head Coach Jerry Tonello, in the pre-game meeting, asked the players the same. I guess we had both the same realization.
We played Great-Britain that day. A team that was emotionnaly in the same boat as we were, out of the medal rounds. Canada vs Great Britain could of easily been the matchup in the finals, but instead, both were facing nightmarish circumstances. I started this game on the bench which gave me a great opportunity to sparkup the players. Before the last 3 minutes of the warm-up, as a team we usually meet under our basket and talk about stuff. SOmetimes we use this time to motivate, othertimes to review tactics and others, well, al of the above. We usually start with the captain. I simply told the players this time that GB was in the same boat as us. They were emotionnaly drained by negativity. They were flat of energy, just like us but I told them, that we should take advantage of this, and be the first team to snap out of it and that way, we could win this game. This was basicly my speech. After that, we took a couple more warm-up shots as a team, then the starters staye on the loor and the rest of the team on the bench. I was determined to spark up this bench and bring Fun and energy back so I had a Idea. All week, our rookie Tyler Miler talked about wanting to do the old Chicago Bulls huddle speech so I gave him his opportunity. The bench players circled up together and Tyler yelled “WHAT TIME IS IT?” While the rest of us replied loudly “GAME TIME, HOU!!!!” Everyone loved it and it set the pace for the game. The Bench was back, it was Alive!!! We had a blast. Ross was chanting, Bo was yelling his guts out and even silent Mikael Poulin was chanting. I was chanting so loud also that at one point I had to slow down cause I thought I was hyperventilating. The good news though it was that even though the start of the game was not a great start, well the starters fed from the energy and got a big lead to start the fourth quarter. Everyone was having fun, was smiling, and it looked like the Canada team that we once new was back. Well, it was at least fun for 3 quarters. GB went on a huge run in the fourth, and before we knew it, the moral was back down a little but not as much as it was but just enough so that the players went on a shooting rut. GB won the game.
The moral of the team was once again down, but Bo Hedges said something in the tam meeting after the game that made sens to me. He said: ” Even though we lost the game, we did have 3 strong quarters and those 3 quarters felt good again while we were winning. At that moment, we were all playing well. We must remember that time. We must remember how it feels to win.” What Bo said was exactly right. I’ll End day 17 on this.
Day 18: WHAT CAN I SAY, BETTER 7 THAN 8
Ok well not much to say here, we played Turkey for the 7th place. We did win but we had a rough time. We were actually strugling. we were down almost 20 at one point in the game. This is just to prove that competing while emotionaly down, its hard. Yu start second guessing your shot which makes you miss it, you want to play safe, so you make a safe pass, you hesitate and the defender reads you like a bok and before you know it, Turnover. The good thing was that we did a comeback and won and this puts an end to the games of our tournament. Relieved at last. The team is embarassed to finish 7, but is relieve of this nightmarish experience. Now, All that is left to do is ….party!! The only positive good thing about this 7th place is that it puts us in a position where we can party a little which hasent hapen in years because we always have to stay sharp because we usualy have to get ready for finals. And this is probably going to be the last time like this because never again, we will finish 7 as long as I am on this team, I can promise you that. 2012 here we come. On my next post, I will talk about the party that took place, a couple more stories that I forgot to mention and a huge outrage injustice that happen that I am very frustrated about. Stay Tune