Jaxen Duff named as Buff basketball's Buff of the Week

Feb. 1—Perseverance: persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

That was the word chosen to exemplify the first Buff of the Week for McAlester boy's basketball Wednesday, awarded to Jaxen Duff for his attitude and efforts both on and off the basketball court.

Coach Mike Dooney said he started the award for his program as a way to promote, encourage, and honor a student-athlete every week for setting an example of a defining word or trait that is chosen weekly.

"I was talking to coach (Cody) Autrey and said 'who really exemplifies this on our team?'" Dooney said. "And we had four, five kids that we were tossing names back back and forth. And then coach made a really good point."

"He's always working. He works hard on (junior varsity), he works hard to get a varsity jersey," Autrey said. "And he's not just an athlete working on the court, he also works in the classroom...he never argues, never fusses, never complains — he's always persevering, trying to get better and improve himself."

Dooney also gets the assistance of community members and program supporters to speak to his team about what it means to exemplify the weekly word — with Sam Wampler coming to address the Buffs at practice.

"The team counts on you, and you count on you. You never quit, you never give up," Wampler said. "Perseverance is the advantage that can never be taken away from you."

Duff smiled broadly as he accepted the award, as his teammates roared with applause and congratulations. Dooney said Duff was a great representative of the word 'perseverance,' and he shows it in his character time after time.

"I don't think I've never heard him complain since I've been here," Dooney said. "And he's had some things come against him, and he's stood up against them. So I appreciate him being on our team."

And as Wampler addressed the team, he left them with some encouragement and food for thought.

"Whatever you're going to do as a career — whether it's basketball or selling cars — don't do it just for the money. The money is a great reward for a job well done, but in the end, it's never enough just for the money," Wampler said. "Focus as much as you can on enjoying life and giving back.

"Working outside of what is expected is what makes an ordinary person extraordinary," he said.