Billy Graham once said that a coach can have more influence in one day than a pastor can in a year. For the past five years, I traveled the country meeting coaches. I’ve heard countless tales of State championship runs, come from behind victories, and about that special group of seniors that really bought in.
I’ve also listened to disappointment: “We were supposed to win it all.” “Injuries just killed us.”"The kids just didn’t understand what it meant to bring it everyday.” “If only I could fire this one group of parents from our program.” Our budget is just too tight to get certain things done.”
Along the way, I’ve met coaches that are worn down. Some of you are tired of feeling like you are only as good as your last game. Fatigued by too much time away from the kids. Weary of looking across the dinner table and seeing the scouting report instead of your spouse-or a referee’s missed call instead of the one person whose unconditional love you know you can’t do without.
But for some reason, hope never seems too far away. Hope for that strong up and coming freshman class. Hope for being good again–hope for being good for the first time. Hope for one day landing your dream job and finally getting the respect you think you deserve. All of these emotions – all of these ups and downs – all to win the title of “coach”. Is it worth it?
It must be.
There are many things we forget in life, but not coaches. I remember the name of all of my coaches since 3rd grade. The way you affirmed me when I had the game of my life–the way you affirmed me when I couldn’t hit a shot. How you made me feel valued as a captain–how you made me feel valued on the bench.
I know you think you stopped coaching me when I graduated, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. When I applied for my first job I remembered what you said about the importance of looking people in the eye. You said that in every phase of life, you have to have a sense of urgency. Pay attention to detail. Never delay gratitude. Always ask yourself the question, “What’s Important Now? (WIN). And you were right, all of that talk about being committed to the team is relevant everyday-I’m always having to work together with people and there is always a teammate in life that needs to be picked up.
If there is a big decision to make, you are usually one of the first people I call. Some of the things you taught us went way beyond the court or the field. How you have to keep each other accountable. Understanding that the most important ingredient in being a teammate is humility.
It seems like everyone is always looking for ways to make a difference. “Where can we go to serve others?” But you have reminded us that impact is not about where we will go, but often times about right where we are-with the people whose paths we cross in our work, in our neighborhood, or in our huddle that you lead everyday.
I know you are busy-that you don’t always have time to sit back and reflect on measuring your impact in players’ lives. So, this is why I am writing you-to say that we need you and thank you. Thank you for driving the 16 passenger van. Thank you for being in the business of pointing youmg people towards the things in life that endure. Thank you for coaching even when you didn’t know you were coaching.
Your Former Player