For those of you that don't know, I went to Indiana University in Bloomington. As did my mom, dad, and two younger brothers. Oh and my cousin, grandfather, aunt & uncle... So... yeah. I'm a pretty big Hoosier fan, and I have been for a long time.

I grew up watching their games, and I remember when I fell in love with IU basketball for the first time. My dad took me to a game when I was pretty young, and watching that first game in Assembly Hall was absolutely amazing. The tradition, the passion from the fans, the deafening crowd, and the beautiful cream and crimson jerseys. I knew from that moment on that I would be hooked. After considering several East Coast schools and several different majors, when it came time to apply to college, I knew there was only one college for me. I did not even apply to any other schools, and I don't regret that one bit. I do not believe anyone can be more passionate (maybe as- but not more) about their school than I am about Indiana, about my fraternity, the business school, the beautiful campus, and of course, the sports teams. It's true- I bleed (cream &) crimson.

Last night, my Hoosiers clinched an unlikely Big Ten Regular Season Conference Championship after struggling mightily at the beginning of the year. That is two outright Big Ten Championships in four years for Indiana! So needless to say, I am pretty stoked about this birthday present Coach Tom Crean and the players decided to give me. So thoughtful!


What I am actually writing about today is Coach Crean's post-game speech to his team. This video is on ESPN and is just over four minutes long, I highly recommend that you watch it (link at the bottom of the article). It is worth sitting through the ad ESPN has in front of all its videos.

There are some incredible takeaways from this speech:

  • "You have earned this memory...This is how you win, this is how you prepare to be a champion- every single day." Coach Crean is referring to the fact that they didn't luck into their Big Ten Championship or win because they were more talented; they earned it. And not just by playing hard in that game. They earned it by putting in the work, day in and day out. Spring and summer conditioning. The sand pit (see below). Open gym. Practice. Film study. They put in the hard work every day, no matter who was or wasn't watching. That's the culture of this Indiana Basketball Team. Because it's not about turning it on only when someone is watching or when it really counts in your life. The secret to being a champion in life is consistency. Consistently putting in the work and giving your best. Not everyone is willing to do this, and that is why too few become life champions. Go earn your memories. Go earn your championship.
  • "At the end of the day, all that matters is your faith, your belief, your family,... and the understanding that together you are capable of so much..." I think this is an outstanding piece of wisdom.
    • Faith: Your faith can be religion, but it does not have to be religious. Faith can simply be faith in yourself, that you are supposed to be a good person that is compassionate and gives back to others- and your faith in others that they believe this, too.
    • Belief: When he says belief, I believe he is referring to your belief and your confidence in yourself given that he also said, "When you believe in what you're doing, it is amazing what you get done." So he is referring to the belief that you are capable of achieving anything you want to achieve, regardless what others may tell you or what others may think. If you remove yourself as an obstacle by truly believing in yourself, then nothing can stop you.
    • Family...and the understanding that together you are capable of so much: Family means the people you love. It does not just mean your mom, dad, siblings and extended family. Hopefully, there are more people in your life that you love. In this case, Coach Crean was referring to the players loving each other, the coaches, and everyone involved with IU Basketball. For you, maybe it is your close friends, a mentor, a fraternity brother or sorority sister, your work colleagues. There is no limit on the size of your family, so love and embrace those important people in your life. And for "the understanding that together..." I think that this African proverb complements it perfectly that says, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
  • "Don't let anyone take away your nerve, your spirit, or put doubts in your mind you can't do things." This is something we talk about a lot with our students. To do anything great and what truly makes you happy, there will always be doubters. Whether you hear it and feel it from others, or that voice in your head is the culprit, there will always be negative influences. And this doesn't go away when you make it, but your self-belief and self-confidence become so strong that you suppress these negative influences without thinking. So what if you haven't made it yet and you are just starting out on your journey? You have to have the courage to start with a leap of faith. That leap of faith starts with a belief in yourself. One of our favorite Will Smith quotes is, "Before anyone else in the world will believe it, you have to believe it."
  • "Don't look at anything in life & say, 'That will be easy, I don't have to work for it'. If you want anything great in life, you have to work for it." I won't say too much on this one because Coach Crean's comment is simple and true. To accomplish anything great in life, you have to make sure you want the result badly enough to put in the hard work. The trick is to not just focus on and enjoy the result, you have to find joy in the work and the process. Tell yourself that you are spending time working towards a goal that you set for yourself! A goal that you really want! If you can enjoy the process as much as you do the result... Look out....
  • "There is no way we're not walking out of that place on Sunday with our seniors' heads held high."
    • The first takeaway from this quote is an incredible life lesson. Coach Crean is referring to their game against Maryland on Sunday, which is Senior Night where seniors are honored because it is the last game they will ever play on their home court at Assembly Hall. They already locked up the Big Ten Championship and a #1 seed in the conference tournament, so the final score of that game will have no impact on Indiana's regular season or their seeding in the Big Ten Conference Tournament. But he is telling his team that there is no way that we as a team are not going to do everything we can to honor our senior players with a win against Maryland on Sunday. What is so powerful about this statement is that despite one of their greatest goals already being accomplished and the next game having a minimal impact on their post-season, Coach Crean is emphasizing that they (champions) have one regular season game left and they are going to put in the same level of preparation, effort, and passion to that next game as they did any other game this season. What this speaks to is (1) again, consistency- champions display the same commitment every day and to every situation, and (2) the concept of never settling- after accomplishing one of their greatest goals, they are celebrating the victory but also know that their work is not finished. Champions don't stop after accomplishing their goals, they build on those goals and continue to raise the bar. You are worth it, so never settle.
    • The second takeaway is the fact that Coach Crean is crying when he is saying this to his team. I love it. He is so emotionally invested in this team and this season because he cares so much about the people (his players, coaches, and staff), and he has put in so much time and effort to make this team successful. It is impossible for him not to get emotional. Do you have areas of your life where you show this kind of emotion, or if you got to a certain point you would show this type of emotion? I hope that you do, or that you start to look for one and do find one. This can be related to people (family, friends, other groups), school, activities, or passions. One of the most wonderful parts of life is emotion, and finding those things that evoke this kind of passion and emotion. Don't be afraid to invest your time, effort, and emotion into something great. Don't be afraid to cry.

This is why I love sports so much. There are so many incredible life lessons inherent in the work, collaboration, and leadership sports require to be successful. I'm just very excited that I get to write about it today through the lens of my Hoosiers.

Yes, I did write about IU Basketball on my birthday.=)

Hoo! Hoo! Hoo! HOOSIERS!