This past summer, I started my blog. One of my first posts was called “My Name is Coach.” That post has been making its way around various coaching blogs and sites for the last few months, and I am very grateful to everyone for their kind words about it. In that post, I talked about how being called “Coach” has been one of the greatest joys as well as one of the greatest responsibilities of my life. Today, as part of my posts on things to be thankful for, I want to expand on the concept a bit and talk about why I am so thankful to have been a coach for over 30 years.
Coaching has provided me with some of my highest highs and lowest lows throughout my life. Certainly, championships and “big wins” are part of the highs, and lost championships and “big losses” are part of the lows. However, the greatest of my highs in coaching revolve around the people whose lives I have been fortunate enough to be a part of along this journey. Today I want to thank some of those people who have been part of this incredible experience.
First and foremost, I am grateful to all the student-athletes that I coached through the years. They are the reason why I chose the profession and, without a doubt, the reason why I stayed in it so long. While so many of them have expressed their appreciation to me for some kind of impact I had on them, I want them to understand that their impact on me has been far greater than any impact I may have had on them. I learned so much from my student-athletes. I learned a lot about dealing with people in team settings, individual settings, and emotional settings. I also learned a lot about myself through my time working with my student-athletes.
The single greatest joy I have had in my professional life has been the chance to develop positive relationships with so many young people through the years. While I have loved the challenge of motivating them to be the best they can be in all that they do, they have motivated me to be the best I could be at teaching and coaching them. It is the combination of my love of trying to bring out the best in them and their capacity to bring out the best in me that has been the source of so much of the fulfillment I have felt from teaching and coaching.
The next group of people that I am so thankful for in my professional life are other coaches. I have been fortunate to work with incredible people. They have been great coaches and even better people. I have learned so much from so many coaches through the years that it would be impossible to name them all. The coaches who I am the most grateful to are those who I worked alongside of as either a head coach or an assistant. They have helped shaped my philosophies on teaching and coaching more than any other group of people. Also, my fellow coaches at the schools where I worked who coached in other programs in our athletic department had a profound impact on me as well. Finally, the many coaches at other schools who I observed coaching and working with their teams helped me learn the profession, as have the college and professional coaches who I have studied through the years. The coaching fraternity is an amazing wellspring of knowledge, passion, and motivation, and I have drunk deeply from as much of it as I could. I am so thankful that I have had such a fantastic pool of people to learn from.
Next, I am thankful to the administrators with whom I have worked who have been so supportive of me and of our teams during my career. While I have worked with some administrators who just didn’t get it, the majority of the administrators in the schools where I have worked have been great proponents of activities and athletics and the importance of a strong relationship between the athletic side and the academic side of education. I thank those administrators who had it figured out and who realized that education happens in many more places in their schools than just the classroom.
I am also thankful for the parents of the athletes I have coached through the years. While the relationship between parents and coaches can be testy at times, even adversarial, most of the parents I have dealt with through the years have been wonderful supporters of what we tried to do. This experience called youth athletics has a three-pronged element to it comprised of student-athletes, coaches, and parents, with the student-athletes being the focus. When parents and coaches work together to help raise strong, confident kids, we all win. When parents and coaches don’t work together, ultimately the children are the ones who are stuck in the middle, and their experience can be compromised. Thankfully, the majority of parents I have dealt with through the years have been extremely supportive, positive people who have worked well with coaches to help create a great student-athlete experience for their kids.
Of course, my coaching career would not have been possible if I did not have an extremely understanding family who supported me in my endeavors. However, I am saving my feelings on my thankfulness to my family for the final post of these Thanksgiving posts.
Coaching has been one of my greatest passions for the last 30+ years for a variety of reasons. Without a doubt, though, it is the people who I have been fortunate enough to have in my life due to coaching that have made it such a joy. Thanks to all of you who have been such an integral part of my coaching journey.
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