God’s Hilarious Basketball Miracle!!!!
By Pastor Stan Russell - March 6, 2013
I remember when the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “I want to build a great high school to glorify my name.” Retrospect shows a great deal about whether the Lord has really spoken to us. Now, ten years later, after seeing Him do great things to make it happen, I am confident that He did speak. In that moment I wasn’t really thrilled, as this was not in my wheelhouse. I am not an educator, I am a preacher, and yet when He speaks, if we are wise and can truly discern His will, it is always best to follow. Many lives have been changed since we started Horizon Christian High School; students saved and called to be missionaries, pastors and fully devoted followers of Christ.
Something happened this weekend that makes me think of the wonder of it all and how hilariously fun the will of God can be at times. Following, when you don’t completely understand, being obedient when you are not sure you are really qualified to pull it off.
This weekend our Horizon Christian boy’s basketball team won their third state championship in the last four years by beating Blanchet Catholic 49-26. They also broke a state record becoming the first team in Oregon to play in six straight championship games at any level. Yes, that is correct. It is a state record and has never happened in Oregon before. This is unbelievable and even staggering when you consider that it was the first six years that we were eligible to compete and that we started playing two levels up, going to 3A instead of 1A where our student body numbers would have placed us.
For some unknown, yet very fun reason, God has chosen to bring himself glory through sports at Horizon. Multiple quotes along the way and through the years about God from our players and coaches have been in the papers and on the forums.
I think it is good for us to know that when God calls us, He sends the right people to help.
Matthew 9:38 “So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” (NLT)
When He starts something, He brings the right people with the right gifting and experience. There are many He has sent to help us build His school here at Horizon, but it seems appropriate this weekend to tell the story of one such person.
Approximately a year or so before we started the high school, there was an article in the Oregonian about our desire to start a Christian high school. I still remember the title of the article because it seemed negative to me, it was “New High School Faces Obstacles to Growth.” The article proceeded to list all the reasons why we would have difficulty passing city and county inspections on our site and thus receive permission to build. We did not yet have the permits. That said, and somehow out of this negative article, God started one of His hilarious miracles. A retired coach from southern California had moved into the area a couple of years before and he was somehow moved by the article, so much so that he filled out his coaching resume and came by the church office to drop it off. I remember when my wife Karen, who is also my administrative assistant, handed me the application. The coaching resume was so impressive, that I really, truly thought it was a joke. It had the following contained in it:
527 wins (the third winningest coach in the history of southern California).
Once coached at the largest high school in the state of California.
Enshrined in the Coaching Hall of Fame in California.
You can see why I didn’t think it was real. We didn’t even have one student signed up yet. There is no way a coach with those credentials would apply for this job. We weren’t even asking for resumes. I thought for sure it was a staff member pulling a joke on me. I said to my wife, “Tell Alex or Roger that this is very funny.” She said, “What do you mean?” I responded, “This can’t be real. It’s too good to be true.” She said, “I saw the gentlemen who dropped it off. He was distinguished looking with grey hair and seemed pretty serious. I think it is real.” Unbelievably, when we checked it out, it was true. Over a year later he starting coaching our very first team; a JV team, as we had no varsity that first year. And then, yes, unbelievably in the next six years, he led the varsity team to six straight 3A state championship games and the team has won three of the last four state championships. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you, he is a man of God who loves Jesus, is mature in the word and a great mentor to the students he coaches.
Dave Brown is that man. He later told me that he once saw a Catholic high school rise to become a prominent basketball program in the state of California in its first few years of existence and said to God, “If you ever have a scenario like that for me at a new Christian high school, I would sure like to work to see that happen for you, Lord.”
Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (NLT)
I believe that God chose Dave and Horizon to somehow show His glory. He predetermined that He would like to see it happen.
Well, it is hard to believe this story, but we have all been excited and had a ton of fun watching God’s basketball miracle at Horizon for the past six years.
As you follow God, He will surprise you with His direction and the things He does. And sometimes it is really, really fun!
Grace and Truth,
Every year I tell the team my “acorn” story:
Growing up in Redondo Beach, California, there many Eucalyptus trees. We had a giant one in our backyard. It was so big and shady that no grass would grow under it. Eucalyptus trees drop a large nut I called acorns. They were about the size of a thumb and they were scattered all over our backyard.
When I entered Junior High school I really got serious about being a good basketball player. Unlike today in the era of Club Sport etc. I had to find a place to play. So my dad put up a backboard and hoop on our garage which was in our backyard. I was thrilled to have a place to dribble and shoot. One big problem… “those darned acorns” – hundreds of them constantly dropping off that huge old Eucalyptus tree. Before I practiced I had the dreary task of sweeping them up. At first I would spend several minutes sweeping them up so I would have a nice smooth dirt surface to play on. However after a while, I got tired of the sweep up part so I skipped it leaving the acorns there. I just went out and dribbled and shot with the acorns on the ground which obviously interfered with any smooth ability to dribble.
One day all while playing shooting hoops with some other kids on the playground I realized something. My dribbling was getting much better. I was becoming the best little dribbler of all my classmates. The reason? It had to be “those darned acorns.” I had learned to constantly adjust my hand to compensate for the slight changes in how the ball bounced back up to me after it hit an acorn. Having to deal with this hardship had, in the end, made me a better player.
Years later after I had accepted Christ and began to study His Word I came across Romans 5:3 where God tells us to rejoice in our affliction because affliction produces endurance, endurance produces character etc.. All of sudden I remembered “those darned acorns” again. All the time what I thought was a nuisance had made me better and I went on to play basketball at Long Beach State. And what was one of the main reasons I made it? I was known as a really good point guard who could dribble past most of my opponents.
Do you have any of “those darned acorns” in your life right now? I hope so!
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COACH JIM HARRIS - THE LEGACY HE LEAVES...
Coach Jim Harris began to leave his legacy in my life when we were fellow teammates at what was then known as Long Beach State. A couple of years behind me, he came onto Coach Perry's team with eager eyes and well-honed skills...hoops were his world.
After graduating and taking my first coaching job in Orange County, Jim and I re-connected. We now had wives and families who also became acquainted at summer league basketball games in the Huntington Beach High School gymnasium...Jim as a referee and me as a coach. It wasn't long until the subject of teaching and coaching came up and the legacy of Jim Harris the basketball coach began. He became intent on completing his education in order to teach and coach and that is exactly what he did. Gunning for the goal he pounded head-long down the court of college to obtain his degree...and it worked.
Degree in hand, it was time for student teaching ...there was no time to waste Coach Harris' growing family required a teaching position ... fast! Coach Harris' legacy took the first shot at Fountain Valley High School where he was offered a "this-never-happens" summer school student teaching position. Doing this he would be ready to launch into his first paid teaching assignment in the fall accompanied by a basketball coaching position of course.
The first quarter of Coach Harris' basketball coaching career came quickly. I was not only his college teammate but was now the head basketball coach at FVHS and Jim was the perfect coach for our freshman team. His transition into what was to become nearly 700 career wins took off at the first buzzer and mushroomed into winning 60+ games in his first three years coaching. It was magic...we shared like coaching techniques, like family interests, like faith practices and a friendship that would transcend a career of competition. His impact on young men, who are now grandfathers, has left the mark of love for family and basketball on their lives ... I know, they have told me.
Through the years our teams met on the courts of Orange County...most of the wins going to Coach Harris. But our families met on the courts of our backyards, of ski and snow trips and of celebrations in our homes. The legacy he leaves began on a court but ends in my heart and the hearts of all those players, coaches, parents, and friends that he touched with his kind smile.
The final buzzer rang for my friend, Jim Harris, on the court of this life. But his legacy lingers through the lives of all he touched...leaving behind a life of love and entering heaven's eternal place of love.
Thank you, Jim...I love you.
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Dave Brown is the husband of Sportmoms and More author, Janet Brown. A career basketball coach for 46 years, he has shared his faith with players, parents, fellow coaches, family and friends. His quiet strength is evident as he boldy and faithfully has led many hard working and disciplined teams to often unexpected victories. Here he shares his life both on and off the bench in his quest to serve the Lord through athletics and glorify Him with his life.