Sports Column: Lets start with the number one

Published 10:53 am Monday, February 6, 2023

By LAUREN SEXTON | Sports Reporter

Hard to believe that the last weeks of high school basketball are right around the corner. With all the scores, players, stats and games I’ve seen, the most rewarding aspect of my job is seeing these teams, players and coaches hit these milestones. But under all the success that players and coaches have had this season, we need to be reminded that they all had to start with just one game and one point.

One is indeed the loneliest number. You can’t have a team with just one player or a season with one game, but a player and coach’s journey starts with the number one. Chelsea’s Paul Lanzi and Oak Mountain’s Matthew Heiberger knocked down their 1,000 points in their high school career this season. An incredible accomplishment, but I think we often forget that although they reached their goal, it had to start with just one point.

Building up to 1,000 points is no easy task, but they had to start somewhere. While one point is a low number, one point posted after another begins to add up and leads to reaching that final goal or should I say field goal. One season after another, layup after layup, one point after another it begins to total up. It just had to start with the number one.

In the 2022-23 season, four coaches in Shelby County reached major coaching milestones. Chelsea’s girls coach Jason Harlow and Helena’s girl coach Alan Skinner picked up their 100th win in their career, Oak Mountain’s boys coach Joel Floyd posted his 200th career win and Thompson’s girls coach Martin Smith won his 350th game. To think about all the time and effort that these coaches put into their teams and seasons is astonishing. These career wins didn’t happen overnight, they had to start with one win from one season. 

When I was in high school—five years ago, I am still young—we had to read this book called “The Outliers: The Story of Success” in which the author discusses the importance of putting in the time and effort into becoming the best athlete a player can be. While at some points I don’t agree with the author’s choices, which to be fair it’s almost all of them, the importance he put on how players reach milestones in their career is the time they put into their craft. Think about Picasso, his art evolved over time, but it was the first painting that started his career.

These career milestones start with just one point and one game at a time. When we are younger, we don’t realize that it takes time to achieve our goals and aspirations. However, these coaches and players in Shelby County are prime examples that with time those goals can be achieved. It all starts with the number one.