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  • Humility?

    Posted by Donavan DeBoer on 2/16/2016


    Kaizen is the process of continuous improvement.  But what is in a person that gives them the foresight and willingness to continuously improve?  In order to improve as an individual we have to be willing to surrender to the fact that we have things about ourselves that need to improve.  I have flaws, many of them, some are easier to identify then others, but I am constantly searching for ways to improve those flaws and improve them, especially in the spirit of leadership.  After we have identified some of the issues, the search for help begins.  We may find some of the remedies in books, articles, movies, or my personal favorite, in other people.  I crave to be inspired, motivated, and moved to excitement.  I search it out with relentless ambition.  I want the ability to do that for others as well.  In order to learn from others there is a level of respect that one has to give that person.  I can’t find the words to explain that, but I think of the unconditional respect I have for people like Don Meyer, Jim Drake, Jon Gordon, Tony Dungy, Rick Melmer, and Brian Naasz.  Some of these people I have met, others I haven’t.  Some you may know, others you may not.  However, the amount of respect and faith I have in these people gives me the ability to change some of the qualities that I have that need to change to be the most effective leader I can be.  The word I have searched for, the one I can’t seem to describe, really never comes to me.  But the one word that is in my head when I think of these items is Humility.  I know that personally I have to be humble enough to know I have flaws, and humble enough to know that others out there are wiser than I am, and can help me.  I am humble enough to know that when they identify flaws that I have, they are not attacking me personally, they are helping me.  To be humble does not mean a lack of confidence, or passivity.  I just think it means openness to change, openness to bettering oneself through respect of other people and their opinions and encouragement.  

    Own Your Emotions

    In life there are so many things that we have to deal with that we do not have control over.  We don’t have control over what the weather is going to bring every day, we don’t have control over the price of gas, we don’t have control over other people and how they are going to treat us or our friends and family.  These are all things that we have to learn how to deal with and all things that affect our lives.  However, we do have control over how we react to those things.  We can choose how to respond to rising costs, to disrespect from others, or if we wake up to a six inches of snow in the driveway. 

    One thing I constantly tell my own children is that we can control two things in life – ATTITUDE and EFFORT!  We have the power to OWN our emotions; we control how we react to things in life.  There are no excuses for that.  If we want to be angry about situations and respond in anger, that is a choice.  If we want to make excuses about why we didn’t give 100% in a situation, that is a choice.  Owning your emotions is taking control of every situation.  No one can make you feel anyway except yourself.  An individual person cannot take your confidence, cannot take your happiness, and cannot take your pride.  Those are all things that we give away.  We like to think that other people or things make us feel certain ways, and they certainly can if you give them that power.  But if you make the choice to own your own emotions, take control on weather you wake up positive or in a good mood, that is your decision.

    You have control over how you feel, if you want to have a positive attitude, and you have control on how much effort you want to put in to it.  No one can take that away.

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  • Summer Club Hoops

    Posted by Donavan DeBoer on 2/23/2015

    Why or Why not to Summer Club/AAU Basketball


    This seems to be a hot topic in the basketball landscape right now.  I was fortunate enough to be a varsity head coach at every level in South Dakota over the last 11 years.  I feel like I have a good connection with many college coaches and I have been lucky to have coached 12 college level players over the years, from NAIA to NCAA Division I.  I also coached summer ball the last five summers.  I often receive questions from parents on the importance of playing for a club team in the summer.  I feel that the answer is somewhere in the middle, but here are some things that I believe needs to be determining factors when making the decision. 


    1.       If you are not serious about playing college ball, don’t do it.  Kids that want to play as well as they can for their high school teams, and have no desire to play at the next level are wasting their time and $$$ playing club ball.  There are many camps, leagues, and team things you can do.  Nothing wrong with that at all.  AS a matter of fact, I wish most of these kids would go that route, because sometimes I feel that the kids are just playing because maybe their family wants them too, or a friend is.  There are great high school coaches that would work with any of their athletes in the summer and it would be free.  Summer Club ball is an opportunity to play with great players, on great teams, in front of great coaches.  The sole purpose in playing should be to get exposure to a variety of college coaches.

    2.       Exposure vs. Exposed.  This is a concept kids/families need to understand.  We can turn college coaches off as quickly as we turn them on.  If athletes play club ball when they are not ready, coaches see that.  Once a kid is labeled, it’s hard to get that label off.  Simply stated, if a kid plays poor, college coaches will choose to watch someone else and won’t waste their time.  They have literally hundreds of kids and games to watch in small windows, so kids need to be ready to play at that level.

    3.       You have to be able to score on your own.  Now, scoring isn’t the only thing coaches watch, as a matter of fact I had a college coach tell me that if he wanted to know if a kid could shoot it, he watches warm ups.  They watch everything from shooting, defense, team interaction, how they are on the bench, how they are with the coach, do they pay attention during timeouts, do they slap fives with their teammates, do they acknowledge a good pass, etc…  However, we all know that to turn heads we need to put the ball in the basket.  Which takes me back to scoring.  Shooting and scoring are NOT the same thing.  In club ball, I encourage our kids to play together, share the ball, make each other better.  But when you play with every teams best player, and everyone wants to score, it’s not as easy as it sounds.  Kids have to be able to get their own shots, and scoring opportunities, and the defense is rough, physical, and pretty darn good.

    4.       Physical – Kids need to be physically ready.  It’s a rough league.  There is a ton of contact that are not called as fouls, you play multiple games in short periods of time, and the pace is usually very fast.  If kids are not physically ready, they will not be successful.  They will get extremely frustrated, and the love of the game will dissipate.  I can’t think of a single thing that stops an athlete from wanting to play more than losing the love of the game. 

    5.       Finally – Do not play summer ball because you think it will make you a better fundamental basketball player.  Anyone that says that is lying to you.  Now, it does give insight and perspective to kids, so they know what they need to do to get better, so in a sense it gets their minds in a place to get better, and may make them more intelligent basketball players, so in that sense kids will get better.  Simply by playing games, getting up and down the floor, and being involved in time and score, a knowledge should improve.  However, fundamental/skill is not going to improve by playing summer basketball.  Example is this --  If a kid gets 12 shots in a game (which is a lot for some) the most they are going to shoot is around 60 times in a two or three day period.  They will throw 150-200 passes, and dribble the ball for a total of around 8-10 minutes.  That is in three days.  The same three days you could spend an hour in the gym each day, and Shoot 3500 shots, throw 1000 passes, and work on ballhandling for 45 minutes.  So if becoming a more skilled player is what is desired, spending time in the gym alone working your game is much more important.  

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  • It's a small world after all

    Posted by Donavan DeBoer on 2/20/2015 3:00:00 PM

    It’s a small world after all:

    This story has multiple lessons, many that I have learned from since, but for the sake of today’s blog it’s mostly about the impact we can make on people, and in turn the impact they make on us.

    This is a story of one of my students, we will call her E.

    I met E when she was in kindergarten, she was one of many kindergarten students that I have been able to start the school year with.  This particular year I was E’s physical education teacher.  She was a typical kindergarten student always smiling, a little uneasy to start school, and full of life!!  As I got to know her, I wanted to make her life a little more special.  As a varsity basketball coach, I wanted to recruit her to come to some of our camps, clinics, and hopefully some games.  I sent some emails to her mother, started the process and building relationships.  E has cerebral palsy, so getting around wasn’t near as easy for her and her family as it was for all of us.  After a couple years, a few t-shirts, and many emails later.  We finally got E to one of our games.  She was hooked immediately.  Eventually she couldn’t stay away, she talked to me about how she was practicing and how she wanted to be a Lady Raider one day.  She started coming to most of our games and even a road game or two.  Our team adopted her as one of our own and she actually became somewhat of a good luck charm for us.  We took team photos with her, some of my players came to school on her birthday, it was just an awesome experience for all of us, and to have her as part of our team was truly a blessing.  I’ve had members of that team that texted me and told me how much E impacted their lives!!  How about that.

    But this isn’t a story about E this time, there will be more of that to come down the road.

    Fast forward a year later, I have taken a different position as superintendent, and a friend of mine sent me a few photos of E at a ball game.  I decided that I needed to make her a Parker Pheasant fan, so I sent her a t-shirt and said she needed to wear it under the Lady Raider shirt to tease the new coach.  Few days later, I received a photo and she was doing just that, completely made my day, I was so proud of her.

    A week or so after, I was at some meetings in Sioux Falls, and one of the presenters was from the Rapid City area.  We just so happened to be at the same table for lunch so we visited and talked a bit about the “west side.”  The next day I received an email from her, she told me a story about a little girl that had a pe teacher that started asking her to come to basketball games, and ultimately ended up getting some Parker Pheasant gear out of the deal.  She said E talked about me all the time and wanted to share with me that she was her niece.  Again made my day. 

    It doesn’t hurt to care for others, and you never know who you will impact in doing so.  Building relationships aren’t about what you get out of people, but what people get out of you.  You may just take a little joy out of giving, because giving is ultimately receiving.  It’s a small world after all!!

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  • Recharged

    Posted by Donavan DeBoer on 1/29/2015


    There is a scene in one of my favorite movies – Jerry Maguire – where Jerry, (Tom Cruise) is talking about his mentor, Dicky Fox, and his keys to success.  In this particular scene Dicky Fox says, “I LOVE getting up in the morning, I clap my hands and say, ‘this is gonna be a GREAT day.’” He says this with a smile on his face while clapping and pumping his fists to really hammer the words LOVE and GREAT.  A very short scene, but man what a powerful one.  The power of choice, positive thinking, and self-motivation.  So many lessons learned from a six second clip in a movie that was really meant to just entertain. 

    Choice – what a concept.  Do you realize that you can choose to be happy or choose to be in a good mood.  Conversely, if you are not happy and not in a good mood, you chose that too.  Yes, we all have outside factors that can cause us to be down in certain moments or certain days, but it is really a choice.  A concept I learned at a basketball camp, commonly known as Point Guard College then, now called simply PGC, puts the power of choice into a simple concept.  Own Your Emotions.  We control only what we can control, our emotions is one of the few.  We can decide to encourage others, we can decide to decide to smile and say, “Hey there, I hope your day is as great as mine.”  If we allow outside factors to determine how our mood is, then that factor, that person, that driver that cut me off – they own your emotions and in sense they own you. Own Your Emotion, make the choice.

    Positive Thinking – Something I read a few years ago has stuck with me for awhile.  I certainly would give credit to the author if I knew where it came from, however, it may just be a scientific fact many have written about.  In simplest terms – The human brain does not understand the word NO.  The human brain does what you tell it do to.  An example is this, tell yourself NOT to think about blue giraffes running in a green field of yellow sunflowers.  I said tell yourself NOT to.  Couldn’t do it right.  That’s because the human brain works as you tell it to work, and by telling yourself not to do something, you still have to think about what to do before you don’t to it.  Makes perfect sense right!!  I’m not a scientist, I can only put it in simple text!!! The point is if you tell your brain to do the positive action vs. the negative action, you are going to continue in a positive direction.  Wake up in the morning, clap your hands and say, “Today is going to be a great day.” That is a lot better than waking up in the morning and saying, “Man, I am so tired, I hope I make it through the day.”  One kick starts, and one, well barely starts.

    Yesterday a great friend of mine, (we often bounce ideas of each other), sent me a text and said, “At night when you get home and you are wiped out, how do you recharge?” My immediate response was “I’m around youth all day, I think that helps me.”  That answer probably didn’t help him much but it made me think about how lucky I am to have the job that I have.  I get to be around energy all day.  I work hard, I burn a lot of it, but I feel like I’m constantly being recharged by the vitality of our students.  Not to say that I don’t get tired, and ready for some nights off, I do, but my ability to recharge comes from the power of choice, positive thinking, and commitment.  I told myself a long time ago that I was going to own my emotions, and my students and staff were going to get the best that I could give them, regardless of what life has thrown at me.  I try to recommit to that every day.  So in the end my answer to him was to commit to it, tell yourself you have energy, excitement, lie to yourself if you have to.  I sent him a text to commit and commitment to me was this: Accomplishing what you said you would long after the feeling has passed in the moment you said it in. 

    Fast forward to this morning, when after a long day the day before, I woke up at what I thought was early enough to close my eyes for a few more hours, Alas, it was 5:30 am and time to rise.  I clapped my hands, told myself to have a great day, I got to school a littler earlier than normal, had a big day ahead of me, lots of things going on and at 7:45 or so, it happened --   A little pair of eyes from the library connected with mine with a big smile and a huge hug waiting for me.  One of my first graders, happy as ever to see me, like I was the most important person she had seen that day, “Good Morning Dr. DeBoer,” she said, in mid hug, “It’s coooooold outside today.”


    Make it a great day!!!

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  • Number 1

    Posted by Donavan DeBoer on 1/28/2015

    I’ve been thinking about writing a blog for some time now.  I guess as a way to continue my professional journey, share information about me to my community, and possibly accomplish a lifelong goal at the same time.  In life we have to have the courage to take chances, to open doors to possibilities.  Maybe they will be great, maybe they will be lessons on what wasn’t great, but without taking those chances we will never know.  With that said, when I asked for help to start this blog I asked her if I could do it without making it public! HA, but I’m just going for it, hope you all enjoy it.   

    So here we go, from the desk of a new superintendent, life lessons from the classroom to the court, to the confines of this computer to you.   I hope to make people’s day, give insight, motivate, inspire, or simply start conversation.  In the sixteen years as an educator, I’ve often been asked what my philosophies and passions are.  Like many of us in education, my duties covered teaching in the classroom, administration, and of course lots of coaching.  I am still searching for any one good answer for those questions, and I’m not sure there is one.  I can tell you I am passionate about relationships, and about leadership.  Not to say I am perfect in dealing with any of it, but I work hard at it. 

    So hopefully with this blog I am able to offer different things to inspire you to make your day great, and in turn give you some insight into my life and get to know me a little more as well.  Some will be from me, although most will be stolen from people much smarter than me, but all will be dedicated to make your day and days of others better.  As you will come to know I love to be motivated and inspired as well, I’m a quote guy, a twitter guy, and can’t get enough stories and articles in my hand to help me improve my ability to lead, inspire others, and build relationships. So with that, I’ll leave my very first post with a tweet that I read today, and one that I really like…..

    A simple concept in life most don’t accept or understand:

    You get what you earn and deserve, not what you want and desire!!

    Make it a great day!!!!!

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