A Open Letter to the MDI Basketball Community From MDIHS Boys’ Basketball Coach Justin Norwood
Justin Norwood the MDI High School Boy's Basketball Coach reached out to me Sunday night, February 20th and asked me to post the following letter to the MDI Basketball Community on his behalf.
Dear MDI Basketball Community
While we didn't have the type of season that we had hoped for in regards to wins and losses, I am as proud of this team as I have been of any team that I have coached. As we move into the tournament season teams will be recognized for their accomplishments on the floor which is well deserved but I think it is my duty to recognize my team and a few things that I have observed and feel need to be celebrated.
First off, losing is not easy. We have had seasons like this in the past but the majority of those teams were younger, with more years to play and more games to win. We have seven seniors on this team. They will not get another chance, and it would be very easy for those kids at various times in this season to say "who cares". Well these guys, they care. Whether it's early morning conditioning, early morning practices, or after practice lifting sessions, they did it. Not only did they do it, but they gave everything they had every time they came in. If you watched this group at the end of any game this year and didn't know the score, I am confident you would not know which team was winning. These boys simply did not quit, ever.
As corny as this may sound to some people, success does not always come on the floor, and there are endless ways that this team shows this to be true. After a long trip to Presque Isle on a freezing Thursday night, we arrived home close to midnight. Knowing that the kids had to go to school early the next morning, after a heartbreaking overtime loss, many kids stayed on the bus to pick up every piece of trash on the bus. After another tough away loss, I went into the locker room to make sure it was clean and everyone was out and I witnessed a player on his hands and knees sweeping crumbs into his hands so that we left the locker room better than we found it. At the same game, I witnessed one of our players speaking to a fan of the opposing team in a wheelchair after the game near an exit. As I watched this unfold I realized what was happening, our player was asking if he could open the door for the fan. Last night our season came to end and these "wins" continued to pile up. A senior who had not scored this season entered the game with a minute to play. Even though we all knew our season was over, the bench was encouraging those on the floor to get that player the ball to score. He got a shot off, and every single one of our players on the bench was up hoping the shot would go in. After the game, and after our last time in the locker room together as a team, I looked at our bench, and then went to our locker room. What I found was no surprise, clean and better then we found them.
We talk to the kids all the time about "leaving your jersey in a better place". The idea being that each team will add to or uphold the expectations of our program. There is no question in my mind that this team did just that. From now until the day I am done coaching I will reference this team to all teams that follow because they are a true example of what I believe our athletic program, school and Island community wants in a basketball team. To say I am proud of this group would be an understatement, we added 14 more members to our basketball family and I could not be happier.
Justin Norwood - MDI High School Boy's Basketball Coach