|Basketball teaches life skills, coach says|
Javon Gilliard, basketball coach at United Methodist-related Bennett
College for Women in Greensboro, N.C., gives pointers to youth attending
UMNS photos by Mike DuBose.
By Linda Green*
July 19, 2007 | GREENSBORO, N.C. (UMNS)
Dispensing a "basketball is life" philosophy, Coach Jevon Gilliard
used a basketball court at Youth 2007 to demonstrate to teenagers that
they must learn to listen to others, commit to excellence and bounce
back after making a mistake.
Prayer is also key, whether you're on the court or off, he said.
As head basketball coach and athletic director for Bennett College
for Women in Greensboro, Gilliard was invited to run the court with
teens participating in the five-day United Methodist youth event.
Youth 2007 drew about 6,200 youth and youth leaders to the Greensboro
Coliseum July 11-15 for The United Methodist Church's largest youth
gathering, held every four years. Together, they learned how their faith
can make a difference in their communities. Activities ranged from
worship services and concerts to service projects and recreation.
Gilliard likened basketball to life, and noted the importance of
listening in both. In basketball, listening is more important than
dribbling, passing and shooting.
Tucker Johnson, Jesse Sullivan and Matthew Kizer of Lexington, S.C., play
a game of pickup basketball at the
Nothing But Nets display.
"This relates to everyday life because you have to listen," he said.
"If you listen to learn the rules of basketball, then you also learn to
listen to your parents."
Listening is part of how you rebound after messing up. If a
basketball player makes a mistake on the court, the player must bounce
back to recover. "If you mess up in life, you have to bounce back. It
all goes back to listening."
As the head basketball coach at a women's college, Gilliard said he
has observed that women tend to listen better than men. "The reason is
because guys are likely to think they know more than (the coach) and
they try to imitate the professional guys more," he said. "Young ladies
come in humble and they want to learn, want to listen and want to get
Commitment is also important. The player must dedicate the time
necessary to become a good ball handler, for instance. "This also goes
back to life. (If) you want to be a good reader in school, you have to
commit yourself to read book after book after book," he said.
"Commitment is the key to success and success is the key to commitment," he added.
Prayer is the third fundamental because "God makes everything happen," Gilliard said.
"Anything that you try to do or accomplish, you have to be able to
pray and believe that you get it done," he said. "Nothing can happen
without praying and asking God to help you."
He told youth that they must dedicate themselves to pray daily about the good and bad things that happen to them.
Basketball can be a good teacher about the fundamentals of life.
"Whatever you are trying to do, you cannot make excuses for it," the
coach said. "You have to be responsible for your own actions and
whatever decisions you make. You must be willing to suffer the
The Youth 2007 basketball court was sponsored by Nothing But Nets, a
United Methodist-supported fundraising campaign to combat mosquito-borne
malaria in Africa by providing families there with insecticide-treated
Gilliard said it was important to help with Youth 2007 because
Bennett College, a historically black, United Methodist-related school,
is "part of the Methodist family."
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
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