Win At Home is a series of opinion articles written by author and motivational speaker Willie Spears. Learn more at www.williespears.com.
After eating an amazing Easter Sunday dinner with my family, I sat down with a slice of pound cake my wife made and watched an amazing championship basketball game. Stanford and Arizona women's basketball teams did not play their best games, but they left it all on the court. Their grit, tenacity, toughness, and heart were on full display.
This game marked the first time in tournament history two teams from the Pac 12 Conference faced each other in the championship game. Coach Tara Vanderveer has more wins than any coach in the history of the women's game, and her Stanford team was the favorite.
The underdog Arizona Wildcats led by former WNBA star and Wildcat alum Adia Barnes was not supposed to be in the National Championship game.
The Wildcats had not made the tournament since 2005, and three years ago, in Barnes's second year, the team only won six games. She obviously inspired, encouraged, motivated, and challenged her team to defeat all odds to play in the National Championship Game.
The focus of these articles follows the pattern of Coach Barnes team this year. I want to inspire, encourage, motivate, and challenge you to win at home by highlighting individuals who sacrifice to win at home and not just in their profession. I could write a book about the sacrifice Coach Barnes has made as a wife, mother, and coach. At the start of the season, she gave birth to her second child and took less than a week off before joining her team on zoom.
According to ESPN Reporter Holly Rowe, Barnes was the last one out of the locker room at halftime of the National Championship game because she was pumping milk for her six-month-old son Capri. Incredible. If you want a picture of winning at home, google Adia Barnes. She is a wife, mother, and the head coach of the NCAA runner-up Arizona Wildcats. However, this article is about one of her assistant coaches.
Salvo Coppa was raised by a basketball coaching legend in Italy. His father, Santino Coppa, coached in the European league for over 40 years and won the FIBA Women's European Champions Cup for the 1989-1990 season. Salvo, who is Arizona Wildcats Women's Basketball Defensive Coordinator, was supposed to follow in his father's footsteps. Instead, after meeting Adia Barnes, he eventually traveled to the United States for the first time, starting his career all over again.
Coppa gave up his dream of following in his father's footsteps as a Euroleague legend not for money, fame, or prestige but for love. Salvo Coppa is the husband of Adia Barnes and the father of their two sons Matteo and Capri.
As a man, a husband, and a father, I see Coach Coppa as the real MVP.
Coach Barnes is on the path to having her name mentioned among the best coaches currently coaching in the game. Taking her team to the National Championship puts her in the conversation, and rightfully so. I believe we will see her in the tournament for years to come. It will not be easy as the top teams have already reloaded with their incoming classes, and Aari McDonald is head to the WNBA, but Coach Barnes and her staff will compete.
Coppa is competitive and will be the first to tell you his team beat her team before they knew each other years ago in Europe. On the other hand, Coach Barnes will tell you that as an assistant at Washington, they crushed Coppa's Montana State team. This family is competitive, and that is what it takes to win on and off the court.
These are two amazing coaches with great ambition and determination. Barnes wears her passion on her sleeve while Coppa is poise and precise. They make a great team.
The Wildcats were less than impressive offensively in the National Championship game as they made poor shot choices. Taking quick shots, forced shots, off-balanced shots, and missing five free throws contributed to their one-point loss to eventual champion Stanford. The Wildcats were also 6/22 from three-point range, but defensively they were incredible, forcing 21 turnovers, including 12 steals. The inability to convert on those turnovers cost them the game.
Coach Barnes pointed out losing 54-53 is shocking considering their poor offensive performance. You can say her team learned a valuable lesson, and her young players will grow from this experience.
I learned valuable lessons from this year's NCAA Tournament, including the championship game. There are several lessons in this story. The competitive drive of both teams during this adverse pandemic season, the underdog story of the Arizona Wildcats, and Tara Vanderveer's perseverance to win her third National Championship after a twenty-nine-year drought is truly miraculous. However, the lesson I want to focus on is the sacrifice of Coach Coppa.
Every man can learn from this great man. He chose his wife over his career. He chose his family over his ambition. He chose to lead by example. He chose to take the back seat or the role of co-pilot. True leadership is servant leadership. Coppa is the antithesis of what society tells us about manhood. Love is the antithesis of selfishness. Salvo Coppa may not have won the NCAA Women's National Championship, but Salvo Coppa is a winner where it counts the most. He is his wife's biggest cheerleader, biggest supporter, and he is a tremendous father. He is winning at home.
Three ways to Win At Home:
1. Support your wife and her dreams.
2. Do what is best for your family, not just what is best for you.
3. Be your spouse's biggest cheerleader and supporter.
I don't know about you, but I want to Win At Home.
I am praying for you and your family.