No Longer Living a Life of “If Only”

No Longer Living a Life of “If Only”

Sasha Bush

The Ashland Beacon


   They say that hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard. What a powerful statement made by Lebron James. No matter how much talent one might have for the game of basketball, or any sport for that matter, one must realize that without putting in the hard work to cultivate that talent then you will simply never grow in the game and will forever remain in a stagnate state. This is a lesson that took one local man many years to realize. 

   Ron Day grew up on Gray Hill in Catlettsburg. It wasn’t until he was in the fifth grade that Day first discovered the game of basketball. His friend had asked him if he was trying out and at that point, he hadn’t ever thought about it. Day explained that he only wanted to try out because his friend was playing. Little did he know that in that moment, a love for the game was born that he still carries with him to this day. 

   Day would spend the next few years playing basketball for his school. During his seventh and eighth grade years, Day got to play but not as much as he would have liked. “The truth is that I always tried hard. But I just wasn’t that good. My attitude was very poor during one particular year. Instead of practicing more, I developed a dislike for my coach. I blamed him for my lack of playing time. I even quit the team when we only had two games left,” explained Day. After quitting the team in the eighth grade, Day decided to try out for the team during his ninth grade year. Unfortunately, he just didn’t make the cut. “It was a devastating blow to a boy in the ninth grade that thought he knew everything,” noted Day. After reflecting further on why he didn’t make the team, Day came the conclusion that, “In retrospect I believe not making the team was the best thing that ever happened to me as a young basketball player. I had to look myself in the mirror and quit blaming others for my failures!”

   After not making the team, Day decided it was time to put in the work and spent his ninth grade year practicing with some older ballplayers from Gray Hill. Day recalled, “Sam ‘The Man’ Wheeler helped me with my dribbling and passing skills while James ‘Skully’ Spurlock was a constant voice of reassurance. We played almost every day at that small basketball court on Horse Branch.” Day’s hard work paid off. Going into his sophomore year at Boyd County High School, Day felt very fortunate to make the team. “I was excited to be back on a basketball team. The older players were incredible basketball players,” stated Day. 

   During Day’s junior year of high school, he discovered that his father’s longtime friend had returned to coaching basketball at Russell High School after being in retirement for a short while. His name was Marvin Meredith. Day didn’t know at the time, but Mr. Meredith would play a very important role in his life. Not only did Meredith teach Day lessons on the court but he also taught him lessons that he would carry with him for the rest of his life off the court. 

   “I know that God placed Coach Meredith in my life for many reasons other than the game of basketball. Coach Meredith became my second father. Not that I needed another father, because my father was the best father a boy could have on this earth. He was a provider, he was a friend, he was a fine example of what a man should be as a father and husband. Therefore, God knew that I needed two fathers to guide me. All young men would benefit from that double blessing in life. He taught me that basketball can be used as a tool to help others. Our 1983 basketball team finished with a 21-7 record. More importantly, he was a godly man that practiced what he preached,” shared Day

   Day went on to explain, “During the course of my life, my love for basketball has only grown more intense. Forty years later, I still love to dribble, pass, and shoot with anyone that will tolerate me. My oldest son and I played many games together. He was a joy to watch play. On Jan. 7, 2017, we experienced the unimaginable passing away of our oldest son (Tyler). I found that my world for three years was filled with ‘if only.’” In 2020, Day moved to Mexico with his second oldest son who shared Day’s love for the game for the game of basketball. Unfortunately, the closet team to where they lived was two hours away. “You can only imagine the logistical nightmare,” shared Day. Despite the distance Day supported his son and his love for the game and contacted the team for tryouts, and his son made the team.

   Fast forward to April 2022, Day was asked to serve as temporary head coach of the team his son played for. This opportunity soon became permanent. Day noted, “I struggled with agreeing to permanently coach the team. But I felt the need to serve others and I didn’t want to look back and say… if only.” No one wants to live a life of regrets and look back and wonder what could have been. So, Day made the conscious decision to make sure that he had not regrets. Just like that Days’ life was forever changed. Day claims that while his coaching resume is not the most impressive, that he what he lacks in experience he more than makes up for with heart, hard work and determination.

   “I have always loved being a basketball coach. I desire to teach others about the game which I have loved for over 40 years. My focal point as a coach is to win, but also instill values and try to shape young men for the future as Coach Meredith did so in life.” Day considers himself blessed with the opportunity to coach as he states it, “a fine group of respectful young men that love the game of basketball.” Becoming a coach in Mexico does bring with it some rather unique challenges, the most difficult for Day being his Spanish speaking ability.  “My wife has served as my translator since April. She has learned the game of basketball thru being our translator. She does an awesome job at being translator, doctor, therapist, assistant coach, English teacher and team mother; without her I would not be able to coach. A few of the boys speak English, but many are learning and practicing basketball through an interpreter. I find it absolutely mind boggling,” stated Day. 

   Day shared a very important event in his life, “On Oct. 10, 2022, I had a vivid dream about Tyler. He was at a basketball court where we train in Mexico. I was going up and down the court teaching the players, I heard the voice of my son. He was clapping for his little brother and sister. He yelled ‘Coach, teach them some of those Gray Hill and Horse Branch basketball moves.’ We both started laughing. I walked over to the side of the court where he was sitting. I said ‘Tyler, I miss you so much.’ He said ‘Dad, I miss you and the family, but I had to go. Dad, look over there at all the boys that God has given you since I left.’”

   Day went on to add, “I have so many children now that it is hard to remember their names. It is even harder when I do remember them, because pronouncing them in Spanish is very difficult for an old man from C-Burg. Daily, I find myself conjuring up words from my two fathers to help young boys to become good men. It should be no surprise to the people back home that we are running a 1-3-1 defense and playing fast break basketball like the legendary Coach Marvin Meredith used for 32 seasons, as he accumulated a record of 677 wins and 205 losses.” 

   On Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, Day’s team won their Municipality Championship which is comparable to winning the 16th Regional Tournament back home. According to their team President it has been 30 years since the Club Delfines de Chetumal has won a Championship. He told Day that no foreigner in Mexico has ever coached and therefore has never won a championship. “On Jan. 15, 2023, we begin our State Tournament. If we win, we will represent the State of Quintana Roo against 30 Mexican states for the National Championship of Mexico. The future will unfold for my team and I at some point, I am not sure of what our record will be in the end, because it will be measured in 20 years by the success of the boys who will have then become men. As for me, my love for the game of basketball has come full circle. I am no longer living a life of ‘if only.’”

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