A Light Among the Knights
Today, the Lincoln High School Knights Basketball team made it all the way to the final game of the state tournament for their division. It likely won’t make any headlines, or make a difference to many. But it makes a HUGE difference in the lives of the young men on the team. You see, Lincoln High School is home to an alternative program for students who have exhausted traditional public school programs. For various reasons, some seemingly beyond their control, these teens are not able to succeed in school. They are likely to drop out of school completely if things don’t work out at Lincoln High, which is what makes this day so special.
Although his degree is in accounting, and he has years of experience in banking and tax preparation, Mike Gregory is investing these years of his life into the students at Lincoln High School. He has always had a passion for working with teenagers, and has poured much time and effort into helping them. Alongside his wife, he has been a youth leader in various churches, done stats for high school basketball teams, and generally been available to any young person who happens to come his way. Life has taken some unexpected twists and turns, and the most recent one has led him to Lincoln High School.
When Mike began working at the school, he immediately asked about the basketball team there. Basketball also happens to be a passion of Mike’s and he was an amazing player in high school. He has meticulously followed college basketball since he was a young boy, and continues to do so. Combining his leadership skills, love of the game, and dedication to working with young people, it seemed to be a natural progression to coaching the basketball team at Lincoln High School. This endeavor would bring about numerous challenges. Teams in the past had difficulty having enough interested players to field a team. They seldom had enough eligible players to even qualify for games, and the gymnasium that they played in was small and uninviting.
Last year’s season was the catalyst to bigger and better things. There were enough interested and academically eligible students to field a team, and the Lincoln High School Knights were suddenly motivated to play. Under Mike’s direction the team began to wear “dress clothes” on game days. They gained confidence, and after losing the first game or two rather handily, they began to put some wins on the board. Boys began to practice regularly, to spend their outdoor time trying out new plays, and to work hard to stay on the team. Mike went to the board with a request to allow the team to earn varsity letters if they had completed the entire season.
This year, the season took on a life of its own. Each time the boys disembarked the bus that they traveled on, they commanded immediate respect with their attire and confident attitudes. Administrators, even from other schools, began to show up to watch the team. Students and parents also came to the games. Mike and his nephew designed a new logo for the school, a banner was made and hung in the gymnasium, and a scoreboard was brought out of storage and mounted for all to see. The boys began putting up win after win, eventually ending with a 12-0 record.
Today was the culmination of an incredible season of basketball. Much more than that, it was the pinnacle of gratification that comes about from bringing positive change in the lives of young people who have not had a great deal of encouragement in the past. Mike has given them direction, made them accountable to rules and authority, and helped them to realize a potential that they likely hadn’t recognized before. He has taught them to believe in themselves when others didn’t. We often look to Superstars and famous people to make the biggest impact on our world, when right underneath our noses could be someone shining so bright that we’re blinded by their humility. It’s not recognition that they want; it’s changed lives. THAT’S what should be celebrated. We are so incredibly proud of the accomplishments of both Mike and his players. You have truly displayed what it means to be a team. Way to go!