Best players are hungry, humble, hopeful

Published 7:38 pm Saturday, December 22, 2012

Nansemond River High School girls’ basketball coach Calvin Mason used a recent Suffolk News-Herald article about Old Dominion University star Nick Wright as a springboard to help motivate his team. The Lady Warriors are a hard-working group, but young and inexperienced, which accounts for the current 2-6 overall record.

The Wright article reminded Mason of a story from his final year of coaching the junior varsity boys at NR. Wright was one of three eighth graders on the squad who did not start because of their age. The team was having a rough year, sitting at 2-7, so the decision was made to start the eighth graders.

“We finished 8-8, because they just kept working,” Mason said. “They were working, they believed in what we were trying to do, and I told the girls, I said, ‘You can have that same kind of season, but I don’t wave a magic wand and make everything OK. We have to work our way to being a better team,’ and I think they understand that.”

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Blast from the past

Thursday’s basketball game between Nansemond River and Norview featured a special match-up that few people knew about — it took place on the sidelines. Warriors head coach Ed Young was coaching against one of his former point guards in Norview head coach Jonathan Wilson. As Young talked about the game, it was obvious he continues to care for his players, even after their playing careers are over.

“I coached Jonathan Wilson at Norview, one of the toughest kids I’ve ever coached, one of the smartest kids I’ve ever coached,” Young said. “I hated to play against him, because I’m trying to beat him, and I don’t want to see him lose. But like I told him, ‘Gloves are off on this, son. The old man’s got to win. You’ve got more wins in you than I do.’”

“And I knew he was going to make a very good coach, so I knew I would have to work to go against him,” he said.


Drew stays ‘hungry and humble’

Maturity beyond one’s years is a trait linked to successful young people. Humility is certainly an element of maturity, and in a society where humility can often seem in short supply, particularly in the professional sports world, it is refreshing whenever it is on display here in Suffolk.

After the game against Norview, NR senior forward Ed Drew revealed that among his thoughts in the face of game-deciding free throws against Norview, he reaffirmed his need to stay “hungry and humble.” While one might expect him to see the game through the lens of his heroic moment at the line, here is how Drew summed up the game:

“For real, they outplayed us and, (at) halftime, we still felt like we just didn’t have what we needed or what was clicking or anything. But we still kept together as one, as a team, and pushed out the win, and that’s what brought us.”

With humility comes a willingness to listen to advice from others, acknowledging that they might have superior knowledge and insight. Ocean Lakes hoops standout and college national champion Brittney Spencer described this willingness in her 15-year old brother, Warriors swingman Scott Spencer.

“When I tell him something about the game or just the classroom or just life in general, he takes it in and he really listens, and he tries to apply that,” she said.

After Thursday’s game against Norview, Coach Young got after Spencer about what he needed to do better. Later, he lightly chided himself in front of Spencer for being so hard on him when he read off his solid stats for the game.

Far from offering up some sort of sly “See, I told you so,” Spencer simply evoked Young’s earlier premise that he needed to improve, remaining hungry and humble.