The men’s basketball season isn’t over yet and my list of favorite moments is growing.
From Brandon Garrett’s first dunk to Isaiah Canaan’s seven 3-pointers in the first half of the Austin Peay game to Donte Poole’s career-high nights, the Racers are impressive and I love to watch them do their thing on the hardwood.
Other notable highlights from the season include when I discovered Coach Prohm shared my nervous habit of applying ChapStick rather liberally during games, laughing every other minute during my first interview with Jewuan Long, talking about God with Coach Prohm and watching the team overcome every obstacle placed in their path with grace and poise.
And what about last night’s electrifying atmosphere as the boys in the blue and gold took down SEMO? I’m not ashamed to admit it: when Canaan shot the three to give the Racers a four point lead, I cried a little.
However, some of my favorite moments are from outside the arenas. Moments like the surprise commendation from Coach Prohm in Popeyes in Memphis after Murray State defeated a ranked team, or moments when I’m at a leadership conference in Kansas City during Winter Break and an employee of a children’s nonprofit foundation comes up to me after I say I’m from Murray State and says she hopes our basketball team keeps winning.
Or how about this one: I’m serving at a soup kitchen in Paducah with some of my best friends from Murray during Winter Break and a homeless lady says, “That basketball team of yours sure is stomping the competition!”
It’s one of the best things about sports – it brings us together in a way nothing else can. We can disagree about fashion, food and friends but sports have a uniting effect that can bond people together like super glue and it just so happens we have a team adhering themselves to the top of the charts.
News of the Racers’ achievement is spreading far and wide, but nothing is better than the Racer pride in our own community. Look around our sweet town: businesses have their marquees flashing encouraging words to the team, the University Bookstore is cranking out a new T-shirt everyday, local coffee shops are creating their own drinks titled “Racer Pride,” or “The Racer” and billboards read, “Go Racers! Eyes Up!”
The success of the team is uniting our hearts as we rally together in support of the only undefeated team in the country, but it’s not just adults and University students proclaiming their love for the Racers.
Last week during dinner with a family from my church, their 5-year-old and 3-year-old boys were playing basketball in their living room. They were shooting around having fun imitating the Murray State team with their small plastic goal and every time they scored they would yell – just like Racers’ announcer Paul Radke – one of the players’ names: “Jewuannnn Longggg!” or “Ivannnn Askaaa!” or “Donteeee Poole!” and sometimes the player they were imitating would sink a three, “Isaiahhhh Canaan, 3-point shot!”
It was precious and proved how deeply Racer fever is ingrained within the community.
People love to feel like part of a winning program. It makes them feel better about themselves knowing they are associated with a team who has the best record in basketball. Why wouldn’t they? Winning is the goal. However, it’s easy to fall into the trap of complacency and I want that for no one, not our team or my fellow students.
So I encourage you, don’t just enjoy the ride of the Racers’ success but let it motivate you to push beyond your own self-imposed limits to achieve what you believe to be impossible.
Do something you think you cannot. Challenge yourself. Passionately pursue your goals and don’t stop until you’ve reached them. Don’t be influenced by negativity, but rather influence others toward greatness. Let your life be an example of what can happen when one gets out of their comfort zone and runs with endurance the race set before them.
Tackle obstacles. Overcome fear. Forget the past and press on to future possibilities. Strive for the goal. Believe in what you’re doing and others will soon join. Live with integrity. Make decisions you can be proud of. Fix your eyes on the prize. Visualize success then live it out everyday.
J.K. Rowling once said: “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”
So don’t let mistakes or the past define you. Compromise is seductive but you’ll regret settling for less than the best, so learn from our beloved Racers and keep your eyes up, stay on your wall and push yourself into your own winning season.