I recently had the honor of coaching the best group of 3rd and 4th grade girls in basketball.

The Storm is a team in the Pleasant Grove Youth Association's local sports organization. The organization provides an opportunity for kids to play basketball, volleyball, flag football, baseball, and softball.

I coached the team, along with Karen, my co-coach. It was a total delight teaching and coaching the girls to become better basketball players and better teammates.

It all started in November with the draft prior to Thanksgiving. I drafted the team and left that night feeling I had gotten a pretty good group. However, I was not sure until we met for that first practice. Then I knew we had the potential to be really good.

The girls worked hard in practice and started learning the plays and the defense we were going to run. As it turned out, I had to work the evening of the very first game and could not get there until the very last moment. I found out they had a very good first game, winning by 27 points. After the game, one of them asked me if I was proud of them. That was a resounding "YES!!!"

The team went on to win 8 out of 10 regular season games. We finished in 1st place in our division, having scored the most points and given up the least amount of points of any team in the two divisions.

But the season-ending tournament lie ahead. In the end, only two teams would make the final and be guaranteed a trophy. The girls worked hard, won two more games and made it to Monday night's final.

The other team had beaten us in overtime during the regular season by 3 points, so we knew it was going to be a hard-fought final, and that it was going to be close -- win or lose.

It was a back and forth first half, as we got an early lead in the 1st quarter, only to see our opponents come back and even the score heading into the 3rd quarter at 13-13.

The 3rd quarter belonged to the Storm, as we went on an 11-1 run to take a 10-point lead into the final quarter. As, I said, we knew it would be a close game and sure enough, our opponents came out on fire in the 4th and went on their own run of 8 straight points to cut the lead to 24-22 with a couple of minutes left in the game.

After some anxious back and forth play where no one scored, we were able to hit a free throw with less than 10 seconds left in the game to go up by 3 points. The other team barely missed a 3-point shot at the buzzer that would have sent it into overtime.

The Storm came away with a hard-fought 25-22 win and the championship. You have not heard real sound until you hear the scream of nine third and fourth graders screaming for joy. It was more of relief for the coaches.

It was such a joy to coach the girls and see them progress and work as a team and be successful. I am so happy for them and I have a big respect for our opponents as well.

It was an experience I hope they take with them for the rest of their lives. I know as coach, I certainly will.

Here's a shout out to the Storm:

Addison, Ali, Cambrie Kate, Faye, Jayla, Kelsi, Madison, McKenzie, and my daughter Melissa. They are a great group! I hope they had fun and learned a little about playing basketball as a team. If that happened, then the season was a success and winning the championship was just icing on the cake.

I will miss seeing and interacting with this great group of girls. I hope I get the opportunity to coach some of them again.

Thanks to the organization for allowing me to coach this wonderful group of youngsters.

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