Beyond Championships Teen Edition: A Playbook for Winning at Life

Beyond Championships Teen Edition: A Playbook for Winning at Life

Beyond Championships Teen Edition: A Playbook for Winning at Life

Beyond Championships Teen Edition: A Playbook for Winning at Life


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In Beyond Championships Teen Edition, Coach Dru Joyce lays out the steps teens can follow to become winners on and off the court. Much more than a sports book, Beyond Championships Teen Edition is a blueprint for anyone looking to make better choices and reach their full potential. The book speaks to athletes aspiring to emulate LeBron's success, as well as anyone who feels either uninspired or unable to change the direction of their lives.

In less than ten years, Coach Dru went from someone resigned to a dull-yet-stable existence to one of the highest profile basketball coaches in the country, despite having virtually no background in the sport. It was an incredible transformation, the type most people only dream of, but one Coach Dru proved can become a reality with the right combination of faith and hard work.

Beyond Championships Teen Edition focuses on the nine principles Coach Dru promotes to his players and tries to live his own life. While these principles act as the foundation on which Coach Dru has built so many successful basketball teams, their universality ensures that they can be applied to any situation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310746157
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: 04/07/2015
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 274,226
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

About the Author

About The Author

Dru Joyce II was born and raised in East Liverpool, Ohio. He is a graduate of East Liverpool High School and Ohio University, with a degree in Business Administration. Dru moved his family to Akron in 1984 for his position at Con Agra. In 2004 Dru left Con Agra after twenty-six years to coach basketball full-time. Dru and his wife Carolyn are parents of four and grandparents of four. For more information about Coach Dru check out

Read an Excerpt

Beyond Championships Teen Edition

By James Dru Joyce II


Copyright © 2015 James Dru Joyce II
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-310-74615-7


Coming Up Short

"Everything's not going to go perfect. You're going to have some losses that you're going to have to bounce back from and some things that are a little unforeseen that you're going to have to deal with."

Super Bowl winning player and coach Tony Dungy

Sensing an upset, the 18,000 fans inside the Value City Arena start to go wild.

Amid the pandemonium, my eyes focus on Josh Hausfeld, the star player for our opponent. Cincinnati's St. Bernard's Roger Bacon leads 66-63. Hausfeld stands on the free throw line to ice the victory. Only seconds remain in the Ohio Division II state championship basketball game. If he makes just one free throw, then the game, our season, and our hope to be named the greatest high school team in the nation for 2002 will be over.

Compounding the unbelievable frustration my players and I are feeling on the St. Vincent-St. Mary bench is the fact that Hausfeld is at the line because my son Dru III was called for an inexcusable technical foul just moments earlier.

Dru wanted the ball to attempt a game-tying three-pointer. When the ball didn't come his way, he overreacted. The referees rightly called a technical on a move that came from more than a game's worth of frustration. It was a reaction to the pressure we had all been feeling over the course of that crazy year.

If I'm being honest—which is something I plan to be—then I'll admit, even as I stood there hoping that Hausfeld would miss, I had seen this moment coming. Ever since taking over as the head coach of St. Vincent-St. Mary's (STVM) ten months earlier, I had worried that there was no way we could live up to the incredible expectations that had been heaped upon us.

The expectations that came with being two-time defending Ohio Division III champs (we had just recently been moved up to Division II). The expectations of being labeled the best high school team in the nation before the season ever started. The expectations that come when your best player is a lanky seventeen-year-old with once-in-a-generation talent whose name is LeBron James.

As Hausfeld prepares to take his first shot, his teammates on the bench gleefully hook their arms at the elbow—the very definition of a connected team. The energy of impending victory is already coursing through the entire lot of them, the glory already held.

Behind me, my bench tells a much different story. Each player is on his own island of despair, united in a common pose—the lower halves of their faces buried in the fronts of their jerseys to conceal the tears. A courtside TV announcer sums up the scene this way: "A lack of composure down the stretch has hurt STVM."

I feel my dismay like a sack of bricks on my chest. Yes, I had seen this moment coming. And no, I hadn't been able to stop it.

Hausfeld takes a deep breath and shoots the ball. It's pure.

With what feels like the eyes of the basketball world upon us, we've come up short. Bacon wins 71-63. Our failure to win a third straight championship seems to say so much about me as a rookie coach, as a father, and as a man.


The day hadn't started well. Despite being heavy favorites in the game, I had walked into the Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio, with a thick mess of worry already bubbling up inside of me. I was getting over a nasty flu and had spent a good part of the previous evening sniffling and shivering. Between tissues and mugs of tea, I had also been forced to corner some of my players in the hotel corridor for having the impudence to party late into the night with the cheerleaders, despite knowing exactly what was at stake the next day.

To make matters worse, LeBron woke up that morning with back spasms. We rushed him to Ohio State for electric pulse treatments, which we hoped would help to ease the muscles. But by game time, the spasms were back, so I had to make a decision: Do I let him play and hope he can work through the pain, or do I sit him and just have him try to stretch and keep the muscles warm, and then see if I can bring him in later in the game? I chose to play him.

Despite the ominous signs, my team just knew it was going to win—not because they were prepared better or worked harder than their opponents, but because they were already high off a taste of fame.

I had tried to temper their cockiness all season, but a recent Sports Illustrated feature had baptized LeBron as "The Chosen One." All the nonstop attention and hoopla had helped them tune me out. They were giddy with the confidence that came with so much attention and so many victories already, not to mention the fact that we had already beaten Roger Bacon 79-70 once that season. The invincibility factor had grown up and around the boys like a stubborn weed, despite this gardener's best efforts.

I didn't walk into the arena that day with the same swagger. It was precisely the pressure of such a game that made me wary of accepting the head coaching job at STVM to begin with. I simply didn't want to mess it up. The team already had two state championships under their belt. Now they had a chance to win three in a row, which would put them in position to win four—something no school had ever done in the state of Ohio. Somehow, it felt like I was walking into a catch-22: if we won the state championship, I figured the credit would go to the boys' previous coach, Keith Dambrot. But if we lost, then I knew the blame would be mine alone.

And that's exactly how it went.

The Ohio media had a field day with our defeat, putting the loss squarely in my lap. "Flop at the Top," said one of the headlines; "Coach Dru Dropped the Ball," quipped another. An article in The Akron Beacon Journal split no hairs in its assessment of what went wrong, claiming that the "main difference between this year's STVM and the past two ... was its leader."

Those words leapt off the page and pierced my sense of self the morning after the game as I stood at our kitchen counter. It's not that I didn't feel responsible. On the contrary, I felt like the captain of a ship that somehow lost course and drove into the bluffs. The hardest part was knowing that unlike most first-year high school coaches, who are free to make (and learn from) their mistakes in total anonymity, my shortcomings were in the national spotlight. Everybody could see and judge. Then there was the fact that my son's technical foul essentially sealed the win for Roger Bacon. My son.


Dru III was the sole reason I even considered taking on the challenge of coaching boys' basketball to begin with. My intentions were rooted in the simple desire to support my son. But the pressures that came with the team's quick ascension into superstardom somehow started to eclipse the simplicity of my original objective. Like the boys I was coaching, I got caught up with winning and losing.

The night after the game, I lay awake in bed, replaying each possession in my mind's eye. I suffered through every unforced turnover, every wasted possession. Bacon had out-rebounded us 32-18, scored 21 points off our turnovers, and outscored us 16-4 in fast-break points. All night, I kept asking myself a series of fundamental questions: Was this whole thing a mistake? Am I in over my head? Am I really cut out for this?

When Dru III came into our kitchen the next morning and saw the slew of critical newspaper articles on the counter and me with my head buried into the palms of my hands, he understood just how badly I felt. I was consumed with the failure of the moment and wasn't able to see the opportunity for growth that lay in front of me.

"Don't worry about it, Dad," he said with pure love in his eyes. "We'll show them next season."

Those words helped yank me out of my own despair. Ultimately, working through that loss helped transform me into a better basketball coach and a better man. Though I may not have seen it at the time, I was forced to call upon some key principles that armed me with the strength to endure the painful aftermath of the defeat. This go-to list can serve everybody as a roadmap for personal evolution. For the rest of the book, we'll dig deeper into these principles. Let's get started.


Decisions Create Environment

"I am convinced that every effort must be made in childhood to teach the young to use their own minds. For one thing is sure: If they don't make up their minds, someone will do it for them."

former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt

After that crushing loss to Roger Bacon, I knew we would have to recommit ourselves both as a team and as individuals. Collectively, our guys would have to decide to stop playing basketball for themselves, for their parents, for their friends, for their fans, or even for their futures. They needed to play for each other. Only then could we ultimately regain the championship ... and our integrity.

The core of that team—LeBron, Dru III, and a burly center named Sian Cotton—had been playing together at our local Salvation Army gym on Maple Street since they were ten- and eleven-year-olds. They had grown up playing for an AAU team I coached. My wife, Carolyn, and I crammed players into our minivan and drove around the Midwest taking on all comers, even venturing as far as Florida for a national tournament.

Off the court, these guys were as close as brothers. LeBron, Willie McGee (who joined the team at age thirteen), and Sian slept over at our house many nights. I can still hear them down in our basement, watching movies, playing video games, and devouring food that Carolyn couldn't seem to make fast enough. (I'm looking at you, LeBron!) I'd look down into the rec room to see piles of players in sleeping bags and empty pizza boxes strewn all over the carpet.

They even came up with a nickname for themselves: the "Fab Four," adapted from the University of Michigan's "Fab Five" recruiting class of the early 1990s.

Of course, there are five players on a basketball team, so who was their fab fifth? The answer was a young man named Romeo Travis. Romeo hadn't grown up with the Fab Four. He enrolled at St. Vincent-St. Mary (STVM) long after the others' bond had been forged. Rather than breaking into their clique, Romeo proudly flaunted his independence from it. And rather than inviting him in, Dru III, LeBron, Willie, and Sian poked fun at his stubborn ways, making him feel even more like an outsider.

Romeo was an excellent player. His talent was critical to the team's success. In the championship game, LeBron led us with 32 points, but Romeo was next in the scorebook with 19. Yet as I reviewed our season, I couldn't help but think that the uneasy dynamic between the Fab Four and Romeo stood in the way of our team actually being a team.

Making the decision to come together as a team should have been a simple one for those young men. But one of the things I've learned as a coach is that many people believe they are destined to be a product of their environment, rather than its producer. They have a hard time seeing that their choices are the building blocks of their reality.

Fundamentally, our team would have to grasp principle one: decisions create environment.

But let's rewind for a second. If decisions create environments, what creates decisions?

It's our intentions. Our intentions are the "why" in the decisions we make. So the truer and purer our intentions are, the clearer our decisions will be when the time comes to make them. The formula, however, works the other way, too. When our intentions are blurry, our decision-making inevitably becomes compromised.

Sometimes in life we make decisions without really knowing or being connected to our intentions, which leads to outcomes we don't want or understand. By holding this awareness—the power of decisions—every "move" in our life becomes an opportunity to create a new reality.


When I look back at my own map of life choices, I see several that I'm proud of, some I'd like to do over, and others that became cornerstones of who I am today. The ones that led to the best outcomes were the ones rooted in my most authentic and positive intentions.

First on the list of decisions that shaped my life was my choice to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

I grew up in East Liverpool, a small city in Ohio that sits along the Ohio River. In the 19th century, East Liverpool was known as the "Crockery City," thanks to the more than 300 potteries that dotted the city. At one time, East Liverpool manufactured more than half of the china made in the United States. But by the time I was growing up, no more than a handful of the city's potteries were still in production.

My father toiled as a janitor for a bank and a jewelry store. My mother was a "day worker," which meant she was a housekeeper for wealthy white people. Just to make ends meet, sometimes they would both take shifts as waiters at the local country club.

We lived in a small wooden home that sat on a dirt road carved into a steep hill overlooking the Ohio River. We had running water and indoor plumbing, but not much else. Several of my cousins also lived in this small pocket of African-American families in the largely white city. A coal furnace heated our house. When it rained, the old roof sprang dozens of leaks, forcing us to set up buckets all around our home.

Growing up, I wasn't overwhelmed by a sense that we were poor. What we lacked materially, we made up for in a sense of community. And one of the places where the feeling of community was strongest was at church. Our church believed in God. I learned the basic Bible stories and the moral principles that we were taught to keep. But there was little talk of asking Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior. Our little church was about membership and community.

In high school, I stayed somewhat involved at church, but you could say I lived life on both ends. I taught Sunday school as a matter of community obligation. Outside of church, however, my life didn't quite jive with the image of a religious teacher.

My real identity as a young man during middle and high school came from sports. Everything I did revolved around athletics. It was the essence of who I was. My real church was somewhere out on the football field.

From the hillside where our home sat, you could look down and see exactly half of the town's high school football field. As a child, my friends and I spent many Friday nights sitting on the hillside gazing on the illuminated scene below us. Sometimes we'd be caught up in the action. Other times we'd patiently wait for the action to return to the half of the field that we could actually see.

When I was old enough to play myself, I threw myself into the game. Since our family didn't own a car until I was in eighth grade, I'd often have to walk two miles to football practice.

I was an above-average student, which I attribute to the fact that there was only one school in our area. Both wealthy and poor kids attended. With my healthy competitive spirit, there was no way I was going to let the rich kids in town get better grades than I. They might have some advantages I didn't enjoy, but school was a level playing field where I was determined to show my worth.

Thanks to my efforts on the football field and in the classroom, upon graduation, I did what no one in my family had ever done before: I went to college.

Though getting there was indeed an accomplishment, my university years were wrought with challenges. Some were just part of college life, but others I brought on myself through poor decisions. I started at Ashland College, which was about two hours west of East Liverpool. Ashland wasn't a big school—it probably didn't have many more than 2,000 students. I initially went there to play football. However, when I got to school, I decided not to play, which was not a good decision, because I lost my identity and began experimenting with drugs.


Ashland was a Division III school in a small town. Something about the school and community didn't gel for me. I had the nagging feeling that there were cooler people and bigger parties going on somewhere else. I longed to be at a school with better parties and more people, so I decided to transfer to Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.

The summer after my freshman year, I got a job at Crucible Steel, just up the highway from East Liverpool. All of my high school friends who had not gone to college worked there. My job was to prep steel samples for chemical analysis, which wasn't bad work. After a couple of weeks, I got used to having money in my pocket and nice clothes on my back. When the summer winded up, I decided I would stay at Crucible. Why spend money to go to college and be broke when I was already making a decent living at Crucible? I thought.

Thankfully, my mother put her foot down and insisted that college came first.

"You're going to finish this," she said with a no-nonsense finality.

Despite my begrudging, her words became my personal mantra upon arrival at Ohio University.

Four years later, the mill closed down, leaving plenty of those guys jobless and hanging out on the corner in East Liverpool with absolutely nothing to do. Decisions create environment. Since I was not yet mature enough to comprehend the truth of that principle, I was fortunate that my mother's decision kept me focused and on track.


Excerpted from Beyond Championships Teen Edition by James Dru Joyce II. Copyright © 2015 James Dru Joyce II. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


FOREWORD by LeBron James, 9,
CHAPTER ONE: Coming Up Short, 15,
CHAPTER TWO: Decisions Create Environment, 21,
CHAPTER THREE: The Power of Words, 39,
CHAPTER FOUR: The Myth of the Self-Made Man, 51,
CHAPTER FIVE: Use the Game, Don't Let the Game Use You, 67,
CHAPTER SIX: Discipline Determines Your Destiny, 83,
CHAPTER SEVEN: Heart of a Servant, 101,
CHAPTER EIGHT: Make Lemonade, 117,
CHAPTER NINE: Take Charge of Your Mind, 139,
CHAPTER TEN: Dare to Dream, 159,
APPENDIX A: State Championship Box Scores, 181,
APPENDIX B: LeBron James's High School Stats, 187,
NOTES, 189,

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