Anyone who plays sports knows that it is about so much more than the score, the stats, or the record. The people you meet and work with is the best part of the experience and Crystal Lewis is one of the best.
A member of the Class of 2012 at Mary Baldwin, Crystal received the Best Defensive Player award during the 2011-12 season. She was also a USA South All-Academic team member. She is now the Assistant Varsity Coach and Head Junior Varisty Coach at Nottoway High School in Crewe, Virginia. I recently learned that she led her team to a 17-1 record and won the District Championship. The varisty team won both the District and Regional Championships.
I asked her to tell me about her experience coaching. Crystal said, "This is my 2nd year coaching junior varsity basketball. I have gained a tremendous amount of experience in this position. I have been able to combine two things that I absolutely love. That is working with youth and assisting them in the game that I love so much. I have had the pleasure of providing a positive impact on youth and being able to emphasize the importance of patience as well. I enjoy being a positive light in my players lives. I can tell you that coaching a basketball team is fun, entertaining, and amusing all rolled in to one. I say fun, because of my love for the game. Any time that you are doing something you enjoy, you never have to actually work. So although coaching is classified as a job, to me, it is more of a passion. I am having “fun” doing something I truly love. Secondly, it is entertaining. I not only enjoy coaching the game, but I also enjoy watching my girls play. This is truly enjoyable and exciting; watching someone that you have assisted become the player that they are. I enjoy sitting back and watching the games also because it reminds me so much of myself playing at the high school level. Thirdly, amusing is the next word that I chose to adequately describe my experience as a coach. It amuses me every time that I can follow a player from the high school level to the collegiate level. It makes my heart smile to know that they are not only a product of Nottoway High School, but also a product of my coaching abilities. I look back to my high school and college playing days and to be honest, I cannot recall ever wanting to actually be a coach. I really appreciated the sacrifices and the things that my coaches did for me; improving my skills, helping me to work on myself as a person first, and then a player; but again I cannot say this was a dream I had. With this being said, I am a believer that God puts you were you need to be. Apparently it was in His divine will that I be a basketball coach, and I believe I am doing quite well. I am proud to say that this year my team went all the way and became District Champs. We finished our season, 17-1. Our varsity is District and Regional Champs. During our season, I was honored to have my very own high school jersey retired as the only player at my high school to grab over 1000 rebounds and be named best defensive player my junior and senior year. I served as team captain and was named All-Region my senior year also."
Crystal also shared this advance, "What I want to leave with the current and upcoming students of MBU is to do what you love to do so that you never have to work a day in your life. Always take opportunities with an open heart. You never know where you could end up. In my case, I ended up doing something I absolutely love. I could not see myself doing anything else at this point in my life. I thoroughly enjoy coaching basketball. Also, it is important to always strive to be the best that you can be. Whatever it is that you find yourself doing, make sure you do it to the best of your ability with heart, happiness, and love."
Crystal reminds us why we do what we do everyday. I couldn't be more proud of her accomplishments. Great coaches bring out the best in their student-athletes and Coach Lewis clearly brings out the best in her players both on and off of the court.
She's a proud Fighting Squirrel and added, "What I have gained from Mary Baldwin College is that hard work and dedication is the path to success. Also having that foundation of growth as a person from the communication, motivation, and leadership support from the Coaching staff at this prestigious institution helped me become the caring passionate change-maker woman I am today!"