Buena Vista's high school basketball team was back at practice Friday morning, just a day after the coach canceled the team's games until further notice.
The reason? Coach Tory Jackson wanted to put his foot down to make a point to his players and in doing so, canceled a game against a team they were supposed to play Thursday night.
Jackson ran the floor at Buena Vista, and now, at 24, he walks the sidelines as coach. He's back home after four years playing basketball at Notre Dame and a year playing professionally.
"It's bigger than basketball, coming back here, it's bigger than basketball," said Jackson.
His message during each practice and at each game is how the game relates to life. Dedication, honor and attitude. He said his team of 12 are all good kids and he teaches them every day there is a future because he is in it.
"I feel like I'm doing a great thing by teaching these kids life lessons," said Jackson.
But in his short tenure as coach, he said he's had to make some extreme decisions. A big one was made Thursday night. He canceled his team's travel to Shepherd because of disciplinary issues.
"We had a slip-up, we had a slip-up, we were undisciplined, and I just punished them for not being as disciplined as what I expected from them," said Jackson.
He's not saying exactly what the slip-up was but he said his players and parents know. He informed them today there will be no game. Team captain Armondi Rogers said he gets it.
"There's more to it than basketball; it's about life," said Rogers.
But Jackson said until everyone else understands that, you can call it tough love.
"I feel like this right here will be a learning thing, a learning tool, and from here on out, I don't expect anything else but great," said Jackson.
Jackson said basketball is more than a game, it's about building character. He says his team of 12 boys will leave as men and taking away the game they all love will help build them up.
"I see the big picture, I want them to see the picture, today, taking this game away from them, it made them see the bigger picture that it's more than just basketball," said Jackson.
Jackson said the decision, of course, wasn't easy and he did get some slack from the athletic director putting on the tournament. But he said he decided to pull the plug for at least Thursday night until his team gets back on track and takes his life message to heart.
Jackson met with players and parents Friday morning. He says his team got the message loud and clear and it's now game on.
The team's next game will take place on Jan. 8.
Copyright 2012 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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