Welcome to the weekly edition of The Ag Globe Trotter by Dr. Dave Kohl.
Recently, we held a reunion of the NBA (Noontime Basketball Association) from Virginia Tech at our farm shop. This was a post-pandemic experience as our league was shut down for over a year. The NBA is made up of professors, deans, local people, and, to some degree, students and children of the adults. Many of the ballplayers have illustrious pasts. This includes one individual who played against Jerry West, “the logo” and NBA Hall of Famer, a Division II player of the year, and one player who became the leading three-point shooter in college history until Steph Curry and others came along. Former NFL and NBA players have made it to our courts to pick up the competition. Some of us have played over five decades together and cherish the opportunity to be challenged by great athletes and youth. This has allowed our teamwork and basketball IQ to be played out in our favor, in many instances.
There were over 30 players and their family members in attendance at the reunion, which amounted to about 75 people. The son of one of the players, who came up through the ranks, asked if he could start the festivities with a few words. Keith indicated that he started as a preteen, occasionally getting into the games. However, as he grew and increased his athletic abilities, so did his playing time. However, it required patience. He indicated that he knew he had “made it” to our league one day when one of the adult newcomers to the league, a dean of engineering, questioned why this kid was allowed in the game. Keith was surprised by the response from one of the elders of the league who said he was staff, which shut down this arrogant administrator. Keith indicated that he knew he had earned his rite of passage at that point.
He went on to say that he learned much about life skills with this group. The NBA taught him to be a team player, to know his role, and to do his job to the best of his ability. When waiting between games on the sidelines, he found himself in conversation with people of all walks of life which expanded his horizons, abilities, and shaped his life as a coach, teacher and now an administrator.
Keith’s experience in the NBA is similar to many in the agriculture industry. Sometimes one has to know the culture and take time to earn respect, not only in your job, but when you are on the sidelines or outside of work. There will be a special time when you can step forward and know that you are part of something bigger, or as we would say the “rite of passage.”
The men and women of the Virginia Tech NBA are a special group that not only shows our passion for basketball, but life in general. Based on this, take time to reunite, share stories, shut down your technology, and discuss the journey of life as a part of life's renewal.
Dr. Kohl is Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Finance and Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Dr. Kohl has traveled over 8 million miles throughout his professional career and has conducted more than 6,000 workshops and seminars for agricultural groups such as bankers, Farm Credit, FSA and regulators, as well as producer and agribusiness groups. He has published four books and over 1,300 articles on financial and business-related topics in journals, extension and other popular publications.
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