It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before! To call them unconventional would be an understatement. To whom am I referring? The Grinnell College Pioneers. They’re the mens’ basketball team at a small, liberal arts college in Grinnell, Iowa with a student population of 1400.
They look like any other basketball team… until the game begins. That’s when all mayhem breaks loose. Not only does every player get in every game, but they substitute all five guys every time there is a whistle or dead ball. Usually about every 35-40 seconds! This constant rotation of fresh legs allows them to run and gun as they attempt to shoot at least 100 shots per game with 50 of those coming from behind the 3-point line. And it also enables them to press on every play, double and triple teaming the man with the ball, ALL GAME LONG!
Their theory is to wear down the opponent. While they play this style of game all the time, their opponents only play it once a year – against Grinnell. Most teams can keep the faster pace for the first half but tend to lose their legs by the second half. Even the officials get wore out. In one game, the two officials told the coaches at halftime that they could not run like that and would be stationed at either end of the court.
David Arseneault, the Pioneer’s 6-foot-three, fifty-year-old coach, said, “I guess I’m the only coach in basketball who screams only one thing at his players: ‘Shoot more!’ We’re trying to perfect chaos,” he said. “We have fun. It’s almost a lost art in sports.”
According to Steve Wood, a point guard, “Because everyone plays, we’re more of a team than other teams.” And because everyone participates, more is accomplished.
ABC did a special on the 2008-09 Grinnell College team that was featured on live television. Later that year, Grinnell went on to win their 2nd Midwest Conference title in 3 years while averaging over 110 points and 20 three-point field goals per game. You can check it out at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iyy677uMMMk
Besides the fact that college basketball is my favorite sport, I love this story because it illustrates what Paul describes in Ephesians 4:16.
From him [Jesus] the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
There are no unnecessary parts – people. The Spirit gives each of us a gift to share. The church is God’s design; His dream. It will only become reality as each of us does our work.
So… what’s your part?