Athletes hate talking about it in fear of losing or having their secret weapon disappear.
They just don’t want to jinx it.
Those brave and courageous enough to mention it have experienced the highs and lows of the most lethal weapon in their arsenal, their confidence.
Confidence is any athletes greatest ally or worst enemy.
The battle field is one played in the mind.
Moncton Magic center Ron Delph has battled hard to get to this point in his career.
The game within the game, the search for confidence.
A players confidence can come and go, but along the way it reveals their true character, passion and resiliency, that’s what makes Ronald Delph’s current success so special.
“You know some of the guys in the locker room give me the confidence and coach gives me the confidence,” confessed the soft spoken seven footer.
“They want to me do that and perform like that every night, so it’s kind of something that I dig into and go hard into because I know they are going to support me either way,” admitted Delph after an outstanding performance on March 6th victory at the Avenir Centre.
As they say the road less travelled is often the most rewarding that’s what makes journey to the Hub City so special.
Delph only started playing the game he loves in the ninth grade.
A late start considering today’s era of specialization.
“My high school career was ok,” Delph said.
Delph made stops at IMG Academy, and Auburn before transferring and finishing his college career with Florida Atlantic.
“Last year I played my first year pro in Lithuania.”
“I got cut.”
“Then I went to Estonia and lost a lot of confidence during all of that,” said a reflective Delph.
The highly mobile seven footer was incredibly candid when asked about his struggles overseas.
“Man it was hard.”
“It’s my first year and I’m away from my family thousands of miles away.”
“First time ever being by myself.”
“It was kind of hard and I fell into a real depression.”
“I lost a lot of confidence and during that time didn’t really believe in myself and it showed.”
“I think it was a little bit of culture shock, but a lot of it was being away from my family, I’m a big family person.”
“Being that far away, you know a seven hour time difference and them not being able to see me.”
“I was staying up late to talk with my family, it was just a bad experience for me.”
With his confidence at all time low, Delph was left questioning his options.
Enter the incredibly gifted coach, recruiter and architect Joe Salerno.
“I got a call from Joe this season and he told me to come out.”
Did Delph know what to expect?
“No I didn’t, but Joe broke it down to me pretty good and everything lined up and it sounded really good, so I came to Moncton.”
Is it everything the versatile center expected and has it surpassed his expectations from the city to venue and most importantly the team.
“Everything is outstanding.”
“I tell my girl and family all the time how much I love it here, a thousand, thousand times better than Europe,” Delph said with a huge smile on his face.
“It’s great being here and they give me a lot of confidence.”
“They have a lot of faith in me.”
“I’m just trying to do my job.”
“On the defensive side we all play as one and offensively I’m just trying to make the right reads.”
“If I have a smaller guy on me I’m just going to take him all the way in.”
“If they are helping or doubling I’m just going to kick it out to the open man.”
Delph is clearly the perfect candidate for Magic’s offensive structure and provides Joe Salerno with multiple options.
Delph is fully embracing his role with the Magic and understands the impact he can at both ends of the floor especially when he’s in the zone offensively.
The big man has solid range and excellent foot work and agility.
“For the team it’s good especially when Billy comes out because he’s a force inside.”
“Obviously, for me it’s important I’m a big man and need to be able to score in the post and be efficient down low in the block.”
Ron is a huge part of our team,” stressed Salerno.
“He gives us a true mobile seven footer which is very very hard to find.”
“He can be a presence on the offensive and defensive end. Ron just adds a lot depth to our front court.”
How good is Ronald Delph’s foot work?
“It’s really good for a big guy, he can run the floor.”
“It’s like finding a needle in a hay stalk when you find 7 footers who can run like Ron who have foot work like him as well.”
“He’s very agile for a big guy and he had an extremely soft touch.”
“Ron’s minutes may be up or down on certain nights based on our match up, but he’s a very valuable piece of everything we do.”
How did Salerno ‘the master recruiter and architect’ ever find Ronald Delph?
“I actually looked at Ron last year. It was through his agent, an agent that I know fairly well. We ended up passing last year because he wanted to go overseas.”
Salerno was fully aware of Delph’s struggles overseas and the massive role confidence plays in any athletes performance.
“As I’ve gotten to know Ron more this season and during the recruiting process I realize confidence is a big thing with Ron.”
“He’s a guy that’s extremely talented who continually works on his body getting stronger which is a goal of his.”
“I think with him a guy of his size sometimes there are some insecurities so to continue to pump him with confidence and constantly communicating with him the good and the bad so he can improve his game is important for Ron and our success.”
Salerno is proud of Delph’s progression, commitment and progression.
“He’s made great strides this season. To be honest he’s been pretty consistent for us all season long.”
The search for confidence sometimes starts and ends with the coach.
“We have always been confident in Ron.”
“It’s important to have that inside scoring threat and he certainly provides that for us.”
“Ron is a young kid and he had a ton of potential and I think for him he needed to play a full season in a very competitive league, but the sky is truly the limit for him.”
“He has all the potential in the world with his skill set and his size. If he stays focused there could be big things for him down the road.”
Delph’s journey to regain his confidence and overall play to this point of his career and is truly remarkable.
How does Delph feel when the ball is in his hands down-low now, does the 7 foot 200 pounder feel unstoppable?
“Yes,” Delph said without hesitation.
“That came with Joe and the guys you know pushing me and being in my ear ‘go go, attack.’”
“So now when I get the ball I look to score and feel confident and unstoppable, but at first without these guys supporting me it was like yeah no way.”
How special is this group of players?
“This is one the best groups I have ever played with,” Delph said.
“I really don’t know how to explain it. The locker room is so alive.”
Confidence can come from a lot different places, but the most important is from within.
The value of confidence isn’t a secret.
It can define a players career.
For now confidence is Ronald Delph’s greatest ally.