George Mikan and the Book of Job

Basketball Team

Chuck Collins was a great man and a great basketball coach. Those of you that knew him know the truth in this not-so-profound statement. I had the privilege of knowing him for the final two years of my high school career as he was the head basketball coach at James River High School.  Let me shine a bit of light into this by telling a few stories, two of which are guiding principles that still stick with me today.

Who is George Mikan?

I’m optimistically guessing that maybe 10% of the people reading this post have actually heard of George Mikan, even fewer know why his name is familiar. Who Mikan is really isn’t that important for this story other than to know that he created and taught one of the simplest yet most effective drills for “big men” in the game of basketball. The Mikan Drill is basically a one-man layup drill where the player shoots a layup with one hand, rebounds with the other, then shoots another layup from the other side of the lane with the other hand. Rinse, repeat… indefinitely.

Why am I mentioning the Mikan drill? Because Chuck Collins loved it. Or at least he loved to make me do it; I never really figured that one out. Coach used to make me do this drill at least 3-4 days a week during season and “encouraged” me to make this part of my off-season regimen as well.

One instance specifically sticks out in my mind. We were at Shippensburg University in the summer of 1995 at George Lehmann’s House of Basketball camp. It was probably day 3 and we had just finished up the morning sessions and all of us exhausted players were heading out to lunch. Everyone that is except me. Chuck had arranged a workout with Ken Tyler who was the head coach at Albright college in Reading, PA. Ken was in town to see me workout, I just didn’t know it at the time. So after exhausting all my energy in the morning workouts, Chuck kept me around for another 20 minutes of strenuous workouts so that Ken could evaluate me as a player. Elbow jumpers, triple-threat, etc. etc. Then the dreaded words were spoken, “Bischoff – Mikan Drill!”

Now I remember feeling as if I did that drill for about 5 minutes, which in the world of Mikan drills has to be close to a Guiness Book world record. I snuck a glance about half way through and see Chuck and Ken chatting about old times (I can’t remember the connection they had) while I’m sweating bullets and my stomach is about to turn inside out with starvation. “Why am I doing this drill if they aren’t even paying attention?”, I asked myself. He finally called it off, we shook hands and chatted for a bit. Then I raced to the mess hall to down my usual lunch of some sort of hot ham/cheese sandwich, probably 2-3 bowls of cereal, chocolate milk and likely an ice cream sandwich. I had a ridiculous metabolism at the time, don’t judge me.

At the time I didn’t think much of it other than to loathe any mention of George Mikan, but as I look back and reflect I realize this taught me a number of things. These likely sound cliche, but perseverance and dedication to the task at hand. One of my mantra’s in life is if you aren’t going to do it right don’t bother. Don’t half-ass things just to get it done. Do it right, do it hard, or don’t do it at all. I’m not a perfectionist, just make sure it’s done right. Some would question the difference. Coach Collins would not.

How Does this Relate to the Book of Job?

It doesn’t, at least not on the surface. It was January 1996 and we were in the middle of some of the worst winter weather the mid-atlantic had seen in quite a while. We missed weeks of school at a time, which of coarse meant that we missed and eventually never made up almost a third of our games that season. I was unhappy. My senior season was literally melting away. To top it off, I got bit by a brown recluse spider on the back of my leg and was out of commission for over a week walking around on crutches with a bulls-eye on the back of my leg.

Needless to say, I came into practice after that with a chip on my shoulder complaining about how bad the season was and that we would probably miss the rest of the season. Coach Collins pulled me aside and asked a simple question. “Do you know who Job is?” I looked at him kind of dumbfounded. “Not really”, I responded.

Let me explain. I was in high school and quickly found that I would much rather spend my Sunday mornings sleeping in or watching American Gladiators than go to church. I went to sunday school and church as a young child but as I grew older I slowly lost the connection. So, my knowledge of Job stopped past the fact that it was a book of the Old Testament, somewhere in the middle.

Back to the story – Coach calls another player over and says, “Nehemiah, tell Bischoff who Job is”. Nehemiah quickly retorted, “The patience of Job”. That’s all Coach Chuck needed to hear and sent Nehemiah back to continue his drill . Coach said, “Brian, I want you to go home and read the book of Job and think about how that relates to our current situation.” That was all, and he sent me off to run some drills (probably the Mikan drill, I can’t remember).

I’ll admit now that I didn’t go home and read it. It wasn’t until a few years later that I went back and read it and it taught me another lesson I have kept with me all these years. For those that don’t know, Job is a sad story. Job’s trust in God is tested when his children and all belongings are taken from him. His spirits ebbed and flowed but in the end he never lost faith and all was restored to him. It’s worth the read if you haven’t.

What this story <eventually> taught me is that no matter how bad things get, you have to have faith that things will get better. Things will turn in the right direction. This story and the optimism that it exudes is what gets me through tough times. Patience is the key, and Job had it. I can only hope that anyone dealing with a disease or illness can have the optimism and outlook that Job displayed during his weakest times.

My Ask of You

I am writing you these stories because they have had a profound impact on me. I only knew Chuck Collins for three years but it is amazing the impact such a positive person can have on your life. At the end of my senior year (1996) Chuck was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Leukemia. Just over a year later in July of 1997 he lost his fight. I didn’t handle it very well. Kept it bottled up inside until years later when I slowly started to reflect on Chuck’s impact on my life. I am now glad that I can tell these stories so that others can learn from them.

Help me raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society so that together we can support ongoing research for treatments and cures for all forms of blood cancers. I am raising money by putting myself through a physical challenge of a new PR in November’s Richmond Half Marathon. Please consider a 100% tax-deductible donation to help me reach my fundraising goals. Every little bit helps and is greatly appreciated.

http://pages.teamintraining.org/va/richmar14/brianbischoff

Be persistent and humble, and God Bless.

Brian

Drinks with an Old Friend

When I say old, I mean old in the nicest of context.  In this case, old means 20 years ago old with absolutely no relation the the actual age of the person in question.  In fact, it was 20 years ago that I first met Greg Dommisse.  It was summer of ’94 and I was in the midst of switching schools to James River High School for the opening year.  As you can tell by the following pictures, neither of us would have been considered old in ’94 (sorry Greg!).

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Greg had volunteered to be the assistant basketball coach to Chuck Collins and I’ll be honest, he looked more like a college student then a basketball coach.  However, I was quick to find out that Greg had a great attitude and work ethic towards basketball, and life in general.  I didn’t realize it at the time but many of the things he and Chuck taught me those two years sweating in the gym are things that still stick with me today.

For a couple of reasons, I recently reached out to Greg to see if he wanted to grab drinks and catch up.  The first reason was it had been at least 10 years since we had really crossed paths other than the occasional meet up at the Monument 10k or other Richmond sporting event.  The second is that I had heard through the grapevine that Greg had come across some personal challenges for himself recently.  For those two reasons I reached out and we were finally able to catch up before summer vacations started in full force.

Over a few hours and a few Sierra Nevadas, Greg informed me of his recent battles with Leukemia.  Greg was recently diagnosed with chronic leukemia.  What I didn’t realize before I met with Greg is that chronic leukemia isn’t something that you fight with traditional measures and then you win.  Chronic leukemia is one of those conditions that Greg will be fighting for a long time into the future.  He will go through good times and then bad, and when the bad times arise he will have to go through traditional chemo treatments.

So the last few weeks while I have been running, I have been reminiscing of those great few years from ’94-’96 and all the time Greg sacrificed to be in the gym to help guide individuals in a game that he enjoyed.  Greg’s story has kept me going over the past few weeks through the long runs and the repetitive hill workouts (Thanks TNT coaches!).  As I am pounding the pavement and sweating it out this summer, please consider a tax-free donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society so that we can raise money to help find a cure for chronic leukemia and all other forms of blood cancers.

http://pages.teamintraining.org/va/richmar14/brianbischoff

This week is for you Greg.  You keep up the good fight and I’ll keep on running.

 

Arthur and the 4th

Boy, did it get hot last week.  The heat and humidity was a cruel reminder to what I have in store for me for the next few months as the dog days of summer are officially upon us.  I took the opportunity on Thursday to try to start mixing in hill workouts on a regular basis.  My TNT team canceled our training due to the threat of thunderstorms; however, I braved the weather and persisted through a pretty tough hill workout.  For those that have never done it, basically find a hill nearby that is a couple hundred yards long, sprint up it, jog back down, and repeat.  I managed to repeat 5 times, progressively increasing my speed with each interval.  I am going to need these speed workouts if I’m going to break my 1:42 half marathon goal come November.

Unfortunately it took Hurricane Arthur to come through later in the week to create a break the weather.  Luckily for us, once he came barreling through, the resulting 4th of July weekend was a wonderful combination of low heat and virtually no humidity.  Saturday my family took part in what is now a 4th of July tradition, running in the Deltaville 5k.  I’ve even managed to corrupt my kids to the point where they ask to run the Kids Run every year as well.  Here’s a picture of them as we walk up to the starting line and another with their cousins and finisher medals!

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The kids did great and I managed to place 4th in my division and 47th overall out of 430, finishing in 22:56.  Now if only I can keep this pace up for the 13.1 miles I will reach my goal!

Please help me reach my fundraising goal by visiting my Team in Training fundraising site below.  Remember all donations are 100% tax-deductible and go directly to support research to find a cure for blood cancers.

http://pages.teamintraining.org/va/richmar14/brianbischoff

 

 

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Time to Get Serious!

This week was the first week in maybe a year where I actually fulfilled on my prescribed training and ran 4 days in 1 week, including 3 back-to-back-to-back days.  Luckily, I had the great opportunity to be in NYC this week for two of those runs and was able to run a few short blocks to Central Park and run around the loop with all the other city runners and bikers.

I must say, for a city so large it is an amazing experience to be able to walk two blocks away from 30-60 story buildings, be in the middle of a park, and look around and see nothing but trees, rocks, and greenery.  The city planners back in the 1830s really knew what they were doing.

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Also, after a few weekends off from my TNT team I was finally able to get back and join them for a great Saturday morning run.  Our meeting time has slowly creeped earlier and this week was at 7:00, which is where it will remain for the rest of the summer as we try to beat the summer heat.  I arrived a few minutes early and was greeted by the following setting.  Very serene for a peaceful Saturday morning.  Can’t wait to see this every Saturday morning for the next 4 months!

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This was the first time we crossed the mighty James River, this time crossing the Boulevard/Nickel/Ten-Penny bridge.  I forgot how much I miss running across the James; such a beautiful setting for an urban landscape.  After a quick (32 minute) 4 mile run, I retuned to our point of origin – Byrd Park.

More stories to come, including a few more personal ones.  Please take a moment and check out my fundraising goal at the top right of this site.  I have a long way to go so please take a moment and consider a donation.  If you want the specifics on the goals I am setting for myself they are located on my fundraising page.

Tough Mudder

That was an experience.  Only two weeks into my formal training for the half marathon I jumped head first into the Tough Mudder with a few of my college buddies.  Leading up to the event I wasn’t quite sure that I my training (which consisted of running 1-2 times a week and tennis a couple days a week) would be enough to run 10 miles plus be able to fulfill on all the obstacles.

I’d have to say that the Warrier Carry was THE hardest obstacle.  Unfortunately for my friend Mike, he ended up getting paired up with the tallest guy on the team.  I went first and carried him 100 yards on my shoulders and then he reluctantly did the same with me.  I’m glad that specific obstacle was towards the end of the 10 miles because otherwise I would have been spent.

All in all it was a great experience and I will definitely do it again.  The only thing I didn’t enjoy was getting shocked – 3 times – for the final challenge.  Each time I got dropped to the ground.  Other than that I’ll definitely consider doing it again.  If you haven’t had a chance, check it out as it raises money for a great cause – the Wounded Warrier project.

Well, onward and upward to the remainder of my training for the Richmond half and time to get serious about my fundraising.  More on that to come…

Have a great week.

GO TEAM

Team In Training

I’m trying something new this year.  Something I’ve never done before but am extremely excited about.  Now I’ve run races before.  A marathon, 5 half marathons, countless 10ks and other shorter charity races, but never have I run a race with the primary intention of raising money for a good cause.

Well, that has now changed.  After only some moderate coercing from my friend Kris Conner, I signed up for my first Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Team in Training.  I have recently felt that my running can provide more than one value.  More value than just a means to stay in decent shape and I can’t think of a better way to raise money for a very worthy cause.

My goal is to blog throughout the entire preparation leading up to the Richmond Half Marathon in November.  Over the coming weeks I will have more information on my fundraising goal and what I am doing to try to meet that goal.  In the meantime, stay tuned for updates from me as I navigate my training and fundraising process.

Blood cancers have most likely touched each and every one of us.  I will share my stories here knowing that the money we raise will go directly to helping find a cure.

Stay tuned, and GO TEAM.

 

Introducing Digital Solutions

It seems like everything is digital these days, so what’s the big deal?  Digital Solutions is a new offering by CapTech that addresses the continuing trend of increased collaboration between enterprise IT and Marketing organizations.  I won’t reiterate the details here, as we have created a new single-page microsite that will highlight the benefits and the reasons why this offering is different than anything else on the marketplace.

Shoot me a note if you are interested in hearing more.  This has been my passion for the past two years, keeping me going even during down times.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

http://capte.ch/digital

Yes, I Deleted My Website

I was a victim of my own carelessness.  I was cleaning up some of my hosting environment, deleting old databases that were supporting sandbox websites that I no longer need or care to use.  In the process, I managed to delete the database that supports my primary website.  Whoops!!!

Well, I may learn my lesson from this exercise to actually keep a backup of this site from time to time.  In reality, it probably doesn’t really matter as I didn’t have anything important nor am I that stressed that all of my previous posts are gone.  At a minimum it allows me to create a new 2014 iteration of my website using the latest version of wordpress.

More to come, one of my resolutions is to be a little more active on my blog and I suppose this is a good start.