From the Coaches Corner: A Different Angle by Jon Rocha

pexels-photo-350771.jpeg           Most people who know me, know that I love the game of basketball. I can always find a pickup game, have a conversation with a fan, or just go shoot hoops by myself to relieve some stress! Since moving to Kalona, I can now add coaching to that list of things I love about basketball. Last year I helped as an assistant coach for the Mid-Prairie men’s basketball team in Wellman, IA. It was a rough season, but I loved it anyway! It was fun teaching kids about the game I love and about life. This year I was asked to be the head freshman boys coach and I jumped at the opportunity. I’ve played a lot of basketball over the years, but being a coach is a whole new ballgame (pun intended). It’s an angle of the game that I never thought I would love so much!

I would often talk to Pastor Dave and it was amazing how things on the court are very similar in real life. It seems more apparent as a coach than as a player. So, I would just like to share some of the things that God has shown me throughout my short time as a coach.

I. Small Things Matter

Everybody wants to win, but in a team sport everybody wants to be the best player too (the best shooter, rebounder, ball handler, and defender… the “go to guy”). The fact of the matter though, is that not everyone can be. Often it is not because of talent (although sometimes it is). Most of the time it’s because players are not willing to do the small things or the fundamentals of the game. They won’t keep their hands up defense, they won’t box out when a shot goes up, they won’t make the easy pass, they won’t talk on defense, and the list could go on. It’s simple stuff really and anyone can do the these fundamentals. It’s all a choice, but some players just don’t do them. They aren’t disciplined enough, and many players don’t see the value in them.

I have seen some pretty talented guys completely waste their time, effort, and abilities all because they will not just do the simple things or the fundamentals that can make them better. They just want the ball in their hands, so they can score and look cool. Well how can you be successful in the big things, if they can’t be successful in the small things. We were getting stomped one time, and one of the trainers leaned over to me on the bench and he said, “I just don’t get it. Why do they think they can play without the fundamentals? They are called the fundamentals for a reason… because they have been working for the last 100+ years of basketball!” I had to chuckle to myself for a bit about that one, but it’s so true! Doing the small things or mastering the fundamentals might not make them the best player, but it can make them the best player they can be.


As Christians we are the same way though. Everybody wants to be the next John Piper or King Solomon. We all want to have the most spiritual input during small groups, for people to listen to our advice, to have the most powerful public prayer, to be the most dynamic teacher/preacher… the “go to guy.” As Christians we all desire those things, but again the fact of the matter is that not everyone is. Most of the time it’s for those same reasons, because we aren’t good at the small stuff or the fundamentals. We don’t make sure we have meaningful time in God’s Word everyday (or most days), we don’t have a steady prayer life, we don’t invite others into our lives or reach out into theirs, we don’t get plugged into serve, we don’t read books by great Christian authors, or we don’t participate in many of the opportunities that our church gives us to grow! I’ve seen in my life and in many Christians life a desire to be something BIG for God without wanting to do all the small things too, and it’s just not possible. Jesus says in Luke 16:10, “Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous in much.” Who knows, you might be the next John Piper or Francis Chan or maybe you won’t! One thing is for sure though, you’ll never be the best Christian you can be without the small things.

II. When your down, just stay disciplined

The record for the freshman team this year was 16-4, but in probably half of our games this year we were losing at some point in the game. It’s a scary thing when the game is close, or you get down by a little bit. You start to panic slightly inside, to doubt, and all the “what if’s” come pouring into your mind. Often players and coaches initial reaction is to try and do something BIG to fix the problem! They have to make a BIG shot or get a BIG steal right away. Coaches burn through their offenses or defenses just trying to find one that works. That rarely works though, and most times makes it worse for two reasons:

  1. The fix is most likely something small that you already know to do, but you just              aren’t doing it (like small things that we talked about in point one 😊)
  2. Sometimes your down and its nobody’s fault. They might just be hitting every shot or maybe you can’t hit the broad side of the barn! There are a lot of things that can  happen in a basketball game and in life that you just have no control over.

Most of time the key is to focus, start doing what you know should be doing already, and just stay disciplined! We just ended our season with a close victory against Washington, but we were down by six the whole time. The game was physical, the players were on edge, and the fans were loud. I just kept saying over and over, “Focus and just keep playing good, disciplined basketball.” We ended up hitting a buzzer beater to send it into overtime and then won by twelve.


In life, things come our way that we never expect and we get down by a little. Cars break down, people go to the hospital, random bills show up, kids get in trouble, you spend more money than you should on something, and you make mistakes. So, what do we do? We start to panic a little! We start posting all over Facebook, using credit cards, making other poor financial decisions, yelling at our kids or spouse, or making promises we can’t keep. We want a BIG fix to get us out of the hole. It rarely works though and often makes things worse for the same reasons.

  1. The fix is most likely something small that you already know to do, but you just aren’t doing it (like small things that we talked about in point one 😊)
  2. You may be down and its nobody’s fault. God just has you going through a tough time to stretch you!

The key is to stay focused, start doing what you know should be doing already, and be disciplined. Stay focused on your relationship with Lord. Don’t get distracted by all the noise and start doing something you shouldn’t. Fix the small stuff that you know you should be doing (reading the Word, praying on regular basis, serving, investing in others) and stop relying on yourself for some big fix. Rely on the Lord because He knows what you’re going through, and He is going to get you through.  Jesus says in Matthew10:29-31, “Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. But even the hairs of your head have all been counted. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Preach to yourself that He is in control and that He will take care of all your needs. Read through the Psalms. They are short, but POWERFUL!

III. It’s easy to think you’re the successful one

I don’t want to seem like I’m bragging, but we honestly had an awesome season! It’s just a fact. There were some struggles no doubt, but all around (not just our record) it was a great time. As much as I hate to admit this, it was easy for me to start thinking I was the one that created all the success. That’s wrong for two reasons. One, that’s a lie and two that’s prideful.  I had to remind myself constantly of three things:

  1. There are a lot of people in my life who have taught me what I know and who have helped throughout life. Many past leaders that I had, my parents, the other coaches, my wife, parents of kids, and the Bible for that matter. There was nothing that I have done that I don’t owe someone a think you for. I could go on for days about the stuff my wife does for me!
  2. Those kids worked their tails off! They were the ones that did all the small things right, they were the ones that worked hard, they were the ones that went out and played the game (I just yelled at them from the sideline). They put in the effort and in the end, it paid off for them. They had a great season full of fun, excitement, and success. What else could you ask for?
  3. God allowed us in grace to have a great season! He was the true hero of our season whether people would recognize it or not. Most everyday (I am sure I missed a few) on the way to practice or a game I would pray for wisdom, I would pray for the boys, I would pray when things were out of my control or I didn’t know what to do. God always came through and I hope He was and can still receive the glory. At the end of the year I was able to sit the boys down and share with them how my relationship with Jesus Christ was the reason I do, what I do and the reason I coach, how I coach. We did not have a successful season because I am so great, but because He is so great and He deserves all the glory!


Life is the same way. A series of fortune events gets strung together in our lives and next thing you know, we think we are pretty hot stuff! It’s all too easy to think we are the ones who created all our own success and that we deserve all the recognition, but this is far from the truth for the same three reasons.

  1. There are so many people in our lives who have taught us and helped us along the way. Without them in our lives, whether we realize it or not, we would not be who we are today. People like our parents, spouses, kids, friends, mentors, teachers, and even people we don’t like or necessarily appreciate God has put into our life to shape us and to mold us into the image of His son Jesus Christ.
  2. There are also a lot of people in our lives who work their tails off for us! Think about how many times your parents changed your diapers, paid the bills, packed your lunch, or picked up after you. Think about your teachers who stayed after class to help with homework, stepped out on a limb to try and speak truth into your life, or put up with all your horseplay in class. What about your spouse that cleans the house when you are away, puts the kids to bed after a long day of work, or cooks dinner and then cleans up after you’re done. There are a lot of things people in our lives do to grind it out everyday and never get thanked. Don’t forget those people too!
  3. Lastly, don’t forget that you are only where you are by God’s great grace. God is constantly changing us and using us, not so we can be on top, be happy, or get what we want. Instead, God does all those things in our lives, so He can receive the glory for it all, because in reality He is the only one who really deserves it! He is the true hero of our lives and not us. Jesus says in Matthew 5:16, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”


Coaching this last year has been amazing and God has used it in so many ways to transform me more into the image of His Son Jesus Christ and I am so thankful for it. I coached for one season for Freshman basketball and I feel like I could write a book already. I can’t wait to see what else God has in store!

For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

– Romans 8:29

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