Telling the Story of Our Season

Below is the speech I gave to our parents and players before unveiling our highlight film at the end of the year team banquet.

Thank you everyone for coming to celebrate a very special season for the Notre Dame Basketball program.

The season is long and arduous.

Everyone: parents, players, and coaches are always slightly relieved at it’s conclusion.

Even on a magical finish like this season.

The end of the year “banquet” has always had very little to do with awards for me as a player and then as a coach and much more to do with reflecting on the past season.

In reflecting we all have much to be thankful for and appreciative.

We use this an opportunity to honor all these young men and the growth they have experienced throughout the season.

As we struggled throughout the season to win, one thing remained pretty constant. Our boys consistently showed up with great attitudes, worked hard, and respected each other and our coaching staff.

I think I must be honest and acknowledge that my greatest frustration as a coach during those times was the failure of those outside the team, many parents and fans, to not appreciate or understand the growth that was happening.


“Experience is what you get what you didn’t get what you wanted.”

Our players did not always win as much as they wanted.

Our players did not always get the playing time they wanted.

Our players did not always score as many points as they wanted.

Our players did not always have “fun” or find the road EASY.

We want the easy road.

As a player you do not want the road to be full of hardship, disappointments, and pain.

As a parent you want your child to win, score, play, and have fun.

The easy road does not make us stronger.

It road does not provide valuable experience.

It does not lead young men to greatness.

The easy road does not lead to the top of the mountain.

We want to have fun and be happy.

We wanted our players to have fun and be happy.

The problem with happiness is that it is based on instant gratification.

Happiness is about it being easy. Happiness is about how “I feel”.

So instead we strove to make this season more about fulfillment.

Fulfillment is others focused and involves going through some hard stuff.

The true team experience is not about happiness, it is about fulfillment.

We weren’t trying to lose.

We weren’t trying to make the road hard.

There are a lot of factors and reasons we struggled to win.

Yet, I believe one of those reasons is that God knew what we needed MORE than we knew what we needed.

In life everything that comes our way is an opportunity to learn and grow.

We spent 30 minutes everyday building culture and character.

We could have worked on shooting, ball handling, or Xs and Os.

Yet, we chose to work on developing our virtues.

Everyday we sat down and read about how we are always building our house.

We shared our dreams and aspirations with each other.

We shared with each other the challenges we were going through outside of school and basketball.

We learned and worked to love each other and build the team around things that really mattered.

Some people did not like this.

Some people called it crazy.

Some of our players even thought it was crazy at the start.

I am proud of every one of these young men and so should everyone in this room and our school.

They have grown in character and virtue.

We put first things first.

Winning, trophies, plaques. They came second.

Our highlight video shows this.


-J.P. Nerbun

March 2017