No matter what your job is there are most likely days in which you use different motives to help you prepare and perform successfully through a tough day. Although they have been getting up twice a week for 6:30am conditioning workouts, a team practice like our players encountered on Wednesday was completely different. Players know that they could win every conditioning workout but that if they don’t perform in practice they wont play. Therefore, there is added pressure and a completely different mental focus at these fast changing intense practices conducted by Coach Pearl compared to when being told to sprint up and down a hill 24 times by our strength and conditioning coach Troy Wills. Motivation for these morning practices can be tough to find.

However, on Wednesday morning our players’ extra motivation was generated by the fact that they knew once practice and classes ended Wednesday they had the opportunity to go home and see their family and friends. Guys had more energy than normal prior to an early workout as they talked eagerly amongst themselves about where they were going to go eat, who they were going to see and where they were going to watch the football game while at home. This excitement was matched by our coaches and student-managers because they knew that the only other time we’d get to see our families from home until April was for a couple days at Christmas.

After practice had concluded and we had clapped it up at half court, Coach Pearl addressed the team. As a family oriented coach, his message was clear: “Go enjoy your family and friends but don’t let them serve you, you serve them.”

I’m sure that because most of these guys are seen by their family members more on tv then in person that when they are home everybody is extra nice to them. Shoot, I’m 27 years old and when I get home twice a year my mom still tries to do everything for me. However, Coach Pearl’s message was exactly right. He didn’t want our guys to let their family members cook or clean for them but to instead serve their family for the weekend. Coach said “Could you imagine what your family or friends would do if you did something for them that you normally don’t do? What would they do if you did the dishes or did your own laundry?” With this practice ended, fall break began and our players and staff were off to spend the long weekend with their families.

I on the other hand wasn’t off to see my family at home in Chicago. Instead my pregnant wife and I headed to the hospital on Thursday morning to bring a new member of our family into this world. As we walked up to the hospital at 4:30am, my nervously excited wife looked at me in and in all seriousness said, “I feel like I’m walking into the gym for a big game.” (This is just one example why I love this woman!) After an intense few hours of labor my beautiful wife brought Charli Reese Pancratz into this world at 1:40pm-marking the moment that changes my life forever.

It’s crazy how the last 24 hours has given my life an entirely new purpose. Self-serving impulse decisions have now been replaced by doing what is best for my family regardless of the situation. As I got some work done today I noticed a completely different mind set in regards to my work. No longer am I just focused on becoming a head coach because I’ve always wanted to be one. I now feel more determined than ever to work even harder, become even better and make my family prouder of what I accomplish. I now relate to the message Coach Pearl communicated to our team Wednesday morning in a different way. From here on our I will forever work to be a provider for the health and welfare of my family.

P.S. Thanks to all of you who sent congratulatory messages to me over the weekend. I truly appreciated all of your thoughts and prayers! Vol Nation truly is the best!



About Mark Pancratz's Blog

A native of Schaumburg, Ill., Mark Pancratz played Division I basketball at UW-Milwaukee, earning his degree in marketing and finance. He joined Tennessee's staff in 2006 as a graduate assistant, earning his master's degree in sports management later that year. Serving as a G.A., director of video scouting and assistant to the head coach, Pancratz was an integral part of Tennessee's six-consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. At 26, Pancratz boasts an impressive 18 games of NCAA Tournament experience as a player and/or administrative staff member. He is a member of the Illinois High School Basketball Hall of Fame and voted one of the 100 Legends of Illinois High School Basketball. Pancratz resides in Knoxville and is married to the former Brooke Waddell.
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