From the beginning of the Stars season, I felt privileged to walk the same court as Coach Popovich.
He had poured his soul into the success of his team, and still continues to do so, on that very court.
It was an honor.
It continued to be an honor that took precedence over any other journalistic experience I had until I met someone that changed my perspective on basketball and grew my respect for athletic capability.
It’s 8pm on a week day, and Spartan Basketball coach Tim Springer is looking at his watch.
He blows his whistle, and all 25+ pairs of eyes in the Castle Hills First Baptist basketball gym look to him.
Springer points to the basketball net in the south end of the gym, scoots some cones over, sets up a drill and says “you’ve got 10 push ups every time someone scores on you. “
This group of individuals running through one of many drills is equivalent to virtually any mens basketball team, but today all 25+ pairs of eyes looking to Springer for the next drill belong to aspiring female baskeball stars. For over 5 years, Springer has devoted his expertise in basketball to female athletes, an obviously overlooked demographic in the field of professional athletics.
As a man, Springer understands the limitations of his own teachings. To supplement this shortcoming, Springer brings in players from the San Antonio Stars to serve as realistic models of female success.
“I feel as if society and the media in general force feed the men’s game, even to the girls, and I understand a lot of it is business, a lot of it is money, but these young girls should have women to lead them.” Springer says. “It’s not wrong to follow Tony Parker, or Tim Duncan, or Lebron James but they should have women to look up to… They should know who is blazing the path for them.”
Realizing the emphasis the media places on the men’s game, Springer strives to provide those he trains with female role models. His hope is to instill a value for the quality of basketball being played without the bias of gender.
“We want [camp participants] to build some kind of relationship with that player, but also for them to learn from some of the best.” Springer says. “Becky Hammon is one of the best, one of the top 15 in the WNBA of all time, [Danielle Robinson] is definitely on that route and Sophia [Young] is putting together a hall of fame career.
While camp participants are allowed examples of defensive and offensive prowess from the NBA, Springer complies film based on what he deems”good basketball.” Never appreciating something for being the best of a certain gender, rather the best overall.
In the two hours I spent observing Springer’s drills, listening in on his remarks, watching the skill level of those that participated in his camps, something became entirely evident to me: I am the media. Reappraising my own understanding of athletics, I quickly found that I too, force fed the men’s game to my audience. Understandably, every man to ever play in the NBA had to fight and work to get to where they were and possess the respect and platform they have, but as a member of the media, I failed to see that those playing in the WNBA are still fighting and working to obtain that same platform.
This summer I had the opportunity to shed light on a heavily under appreciated demographic; a demographic that is paving the way for not only female basketball players, but female athletes and female workers in general. My experience covering the Stars began as something I viewed as a rookie phase all journalists went through, starting from the bottom of the totem pole, but Springer introduced to me an importance of duty that I once lacked.
This summer I did not cover women’s sports, I covered history in the making.
While I still value the experience of walking the same court as coach Popovich, the fact that I got to walk the same court as Becky Hammon, one of the best basketball minds in both the WNBA and NBA, quickly took precedence.