Miles Kendall has learned to realize life is about perspective.
The North Hall High boys basketball coach understands life is bigger than the game itself.
Wins and losses matter, but it is never the end of the world.
He has learned to look around and smile about many things, while still providing the Trojans consistent high energy on the sideline.
There are moments he is intensely calling out instructions for a defense stance or an offensive set.
Then, in either the same sequence or at a few points during the game, Kendall will flash a welcoming smile to a player walking off the floor or to someone in the stands.
This is who Kendall, 38, is because of what life has taught him.
“I learned a long time ago to be yourself,” he said. “Basketball is important to me and is a big part of my life. It is easy, as a coach, to be negative all the time. I try to stay in the middle, but really it is me just trying to stay to my personality.”
This perspective or approach to the game was not always the case for Kendall.
He was your typical hot headed know-it-all teenager, whose emotions weighed on every shot or possession like it was the end of the world.
There was no balance for him as a West Hall High product.
At times, Kendall was benched for not displaying a more balanced attitude or approach to the game.
“I wish I had those moments to just smile and laugh as a player,” he said. “You think you know everything as a kid. Every little mistake was the end of the world when you’re young. I wasn’t able to laugh those things off or move on very well. I held on to those things way too much.”
Now, as the Trojans coach, Kendall does not allow the emotions of the game to control him now.
His focus on life changed when he became a husband and a father.
The perspective narrowed even more seriously when his daughter, Isla, was born.
Nine months ago, Kendall’s youngest was born with a rare heart defect.
The emotions of fatherhood are overwhelming, but when a child is born with challenges, life has you asking why.
Kendall knows things happen in God’s timing, but is difficult to understand when you’re in the middle of what is going on.
Kendall was grateful for the support from the North Hall community.
Whenever his daughter had to have surgery, the Trojans family rallied to help the young coach.
He had to miss offseason workouts and banquets to be with his wife, Avery, in Atlanta for their daughter.
One of the biggest supporters during this entire time has been Lady Trojans basketball coach Kristi House.
Her son, Cooper, was born with the same heart condition.
Last spring, after Cooper went though surgery for the last time, there was one bed remaining in the 50-plus bed intensive care unit.
This is where both families could comfort and pray for each other.
“Having coach House in our life, especially with my wife, to be able to walk through this with us, I cannot describe in words how special that was,” Kendall said.
Isla is still going through the process regarding her heart and will be protected for by her big brothers Avery (12) and Rob (8).
They have helped mom with anything needed because they have had to all make sacrifices and adjustments.
Kendall even believes his wife, who has stepped away from teaching to attend to Isla, could do some amazing things in the medical field after these challenging moments.
“A warrior is how I describe her,” Kendall said. “She had done an amazing job with medication schedules, feeding schedules, and making sure (Isla) gets everything she needs.”
Kendall needed being a father and a coach to make him see what was important.
The moments he is smiling on the sideline could easily come from him seeing Isla watching him coach.
His eyes will scan the stands and the smile will crease his face, even in some intense moments of a game.
“I’ve looked up into the crowd to see what is really important,” Kendall said. “Just knowing that my wife and kids will always be there. It doesn’t matter. Family is family and nothing changes.”
Kendall hopes his players feel the same warm family feel.
His objective is to help mold them from young boys to young men through the game of basketball.
It is what the coaches along the way helped Kendall on and off the court.
“Who they’re going to be outside of basketball is way more important,” Kendall says. “The game of basketball teaches life lessons all the time. It’s not just about winning and losing.”
This is a lesson Kendall has had to put into perspective.
The younger version of him could learn something from this coach.
“The things you think were important then are really not,” he said. “Looking back as a high school player, I felt leadership inside of me but I didn’t act on it enough. So I would tell myself to have confidence to be that leader you are. It took me a while to realize that. All those moments you could’ve done better for you teammates, you were worried about yourself.
“Life has a strange way to give us perspective. You can get humble very quickly.”