RIP Kobe

By: Topher Scott

Like many others on Sunday afternoon, I scrolled through Twitter to read the news that Kobe Bryant and his daughter tragically died in a helicopter crash outside Los Angeles.  While I was scrolling through my phone…I was holding my five month old daughter.

Let’s just say I held on a little tighter.

Life is short. Having two little girls of our own, my wife and I were told as parents…The days are long but the months and years fly by in the blink of an eye.  And yesterday that really hit home with a stark reminder that we really aren’t promised tomorrow.  So I asked myself the question:

“What am I doing to squeeze every ounce out of life today?”

If you’ve read my blogs or listened to my podcast, you know how important the word perspective is to me.  Having the ability to take a step back and look at things in a different way is one of the most powerful abilities we have.  Many times that takes a required effort because it’s easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day grind.  But sometimes things happen that cause us to really examine the world around us in a different light…and yesterday was one of those days.

Last week I had a few days that felt a lot like a grind.  Taking over this hockey director role has been invigorating, but it has also brought its challenges.  While there’s been great collaboration and excitement, there has also been pushback.  Competing hockey clubs trying to knock us down a peg.  Parents bringing rumors to my attention about who I am and what I am trying to do.  Some of it has caused me to really shake my head.

But before I tackle that, let’s get back to Kobe for a second.

Kobe was someone I always admired for the competitor that he was.  I grew up in Chicago watching Michael Jordan and watching how his competitiveness lead to his greatness.  Kobe was this generation’s MJ, and I loved watching his process and learning about the Mamba Mentality.

He is one of the very few people on Earth who came as close as possible to maximizing their God-Given potential because of his work ethic. The clip below demonstrates his willingness to learn and work to become a better player (1:00-2:04 is Kobe’s part):

That’s the Kobe that I will always remember.  The tireless worker that took 1,000 shots per day to better a skill that will help his team win.  Amazing.

Upon learning of his passing, I went down a rabbit hole on social media as so many people posted messages or videos about what Kobe meant to them.  And I came to realize how big of an advocate he was for youth sports.  The amount of time and effort he put into trying to change the culture for the next generation was incredible.

And in my scrolling I came across this tweet:

And this one.

And this one.

Kobe is a champion for kids.  His work across multiple platforms with his “Project Play” initiative and #DontRetireKid campaigns are major reminders of what youth sports is all about.

Coaches and Parents:

This is arguably the most competitive athlete of all time telling us to slow down.  Let kids be kids.  Grow passion first.  Give back.  Educate and teach.

Through these values first, competitiveness is grown.  Take it from one of the greatest athletes who ever lived.

So many times we get stuck into thinking that competitiveness and fun are on two totally opposite ends of the spectrum.  No.  They are values that when brought together, grows passion.  And when passion grows, development explodes.

Kobe’s battle against the Competitiveness-without-Fun youth sports culture will hopefully be one of his greatest legacies.

At this time of year for hockey coaches and parents, it’s easy to get sucked into that way of thinking.  The structure put in place by hockey leadership right now all but guarantees it.  But as you navigate these next couple months, I’ll leave you with this last clip from Kobe. It gave me perspective. It reminded me of my why.

Hopefully it can move the needle for you too.



2 Responses
  1. James Weise

    As a dad who has driven to so many hockey, soccer, lacrosse, baseball, and football games, this was a rough one to hear about.

    It is just heartbreaking to think about the people that were left behind to pick up the pieces after yesterday’s crash and the loss of nine lives.

  2. Chris Waters

    So many people profiting off these children and trying to make a living in Minor Hockey is the problem- let the kids play. Community based teams and High School provide a great option for all and a wonderful experience. We need to work to get that back into the game