To write about the game of men’s basketball and not quote Michael Jordan would be a crime, so here it goes: words of inspiration from the man, the myth, the legend himself. Jordan once said, “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”
By all accounts, Friendswood High School senior Ben McAndrews was never the star of the high school basketball team. He did not walk onto the court his freshman year and drain three-pointers or turn a 360-spin into a slam dunk, but what he did do was work hard to be better.
“He is a testament to hard work. Skill wise, especially as a freshman, he wasn’t great,” Caleb Marburger, McAndrew’s basketball coach, said. “We didn’t know how he was going to pan out over the next four years, but he just put his nose down, kept working hard and now he’s been a big contributor on Varsity as a senior.”
His status as a “big contributor” did not come easy; it took McAndrews making sacrifices. Marburger specifically recalled McAndrews’ struggle from the free-throw line this season and how he worked to overcome it.
“He comes in every day during seventh period even though he has seventh period off. A lot of kids his age would go home and take a nap or play video games or hang out with their friends, but Ben has been in the gym every day shooting free-throws,” he said. “It’s paying off for him.”
Besides overcoming his own battles, McAndrews humbly spoke on his efforts to help the team overcome adversity this season.
“Through this season, we’ve had some difficulties, some issues, and how I’ve held myself and acted is what I want my legacy to be,” McAndrews said. “I try to go the extra mile. Besides my expected role as a senior, I feel like I can set a good example.”
Junior Gracen McGregor, McAndrew’s teammate and friend, said McAndrews inspires him.
“Ben is a great guy. He’s definitely a good leader on the team and shows really good character on and off the court, so he’s a great representation for our program,” McGregor said. “He’s definitely a role model for me. I strive to be like him.”
And who does McAndrews strive to be like? His dad.
“My dad inspires me. He’s a good leader, he works hard and he sets a great example,” he said. “His actions have influenced me in basketball and in life because I’ve seen how he treats people, how he is nice, what he says and that’s how I try to act.”
Marburger has noticed these traits in McAndrews.
“He’s always the hardest working kid in the gym and he holds his teammates accountable as well. He makes sure the program as a whole is held to the standard he holds himself to – which is a very high standard,” Marburger said. “He treats people with respect, he’s a high-character kid and he’s a great student; he’s someone we want to represent our program every day of the week.”
McAndrews said having the best character is more important to him than having the best basketball skills. At the end of the day, even if his team does not win every game, McAndrews reminds his teammates, “We’re going to get better.” In the weight room: “We’re going to get better.” On the court: “We’re going to get better.” In the classroom: “We’re going to get better.”
In uncertain times filled with adversity and a lot of “lasts” for the senior, McAndrews knows all he can do is strive to be better. Marburger hopes one day McAndrews will look back and realize he wasn’t just better: he was great.
“I hope he understands what he’s done in this program and what he’s done for this program is something that’s going to carry with him for the rest of his life,” Marburger said. “I hope he keeps dreaming big.”