Coaching is a tough business. I don’t have to tell you that. It’s a job that’s far more than a job — a calling, a lifestyle that demands 80 hours a week, most often for little money, and one that divides half its workforce into winning and losing buckets each week.
This time last year, Tony Bennett was dropped into the losing bucket, and what a violent splash it was. His Virginia basketball team became the first No. 1 seed in the history of the NCAA Tournament to lose to a No. 16 seed, but his Cavaliers weren’t just beaten, they were blown out — a 74-54 dud of a loss that called that immediately turned the sweet taste of Virginia’s 31-2 start sour.
But the loss didn’t get Bennett down, at least not for long. On the rare occasion his team loses — UVa is 29-3 and again a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament — Bennett’s upright posture doesn’t droop. He was asked about that on Thursday, and his answer was great.
“I’m thankful for the things — you certainly feel things, and things bother you, but where does peace and perspective come from? I always tell our guys it’s got to be something that is unconditional, and I know I have that in the love of my family. Unconditional, acceptance and love,” Bennett said. “That’s huge. And I know I have that in my faith in Christ. That’s, for me, where I draw my strength from, my peace, my steadiness in the midst of things. But, of course you feel things. Of course you desperately want things to go well, and it’s frustrating when you’re not. You step back and look at it.
“I always challenge our guys, what’s your secret of contentment? What’s your secret of contentment? There’s going to be times, it talks about you’re going to be well fed and living in plenty, and there’s going to be times when you’re going to be starving and living in want. What’s your secret of handling that? That I know, without a doubt, those of us who have parents or kids, that love you give them unconditionally or if your faith is there, that has to buoy you, and that has to be your center, and you dwell on what is good because there is a bigger picture in all of this, and I believe I understand that. So going through those refining moments, they’re tough, but you look back at them, and in a way, they’re sometimes painful gifts that draw you near to what truly matters. I think that’s the best way I could respond to that.”
Bennett on hardships: "You certainly feel things and things bother you, but where does peace and perspective come from? I always tell our guys, it has to be something unconditional. I know I have that in the love of my family. And I know I have that in my faith." 🔶⚔️🔷 #GoHoos pic.twitter.com/8kdDivLeRC
— Virginia Men's Basketball (@UVAMensHoops) March 21, 2019
Adversity waits for all of us around the corner, and we’d all be well-served to heed Bennett’s words when it inevitably arrives.