Monday, December 9, 2013

A Coaching Moment

Coaches, I don't normally post stuff like this, but I'm really really struggling with this one.  I just learned that perhaps our best player has suffered a devastating injury, that will end his career as well as potentially threaten his life.  He was involved in a severe accident that could have been prevented.  I do not want to go into detail in case any family members may read this blog, however writing is one way I choose to cope with things.

This young man was to be our first ever Division I football player in school history (Over 40 years of football).  I won't mention the university, again for anonymity.  Not only a tremendous football player, he was even better person.  Young, scrappy, smart, and had the world by the tail.  All that changed when a decision to go to a party involving alcohol turned into a life changing event.  In a mere seconds, this man's life has now forever been changed.  I am still yet to come to grips with the event, as having coached this player since he was a freshman, we've talked about his goals and aspirations and dreams.  He had one day hoped to play in the NFL, and then become a coach.  He absolutely loved the game.  He will survive, but his quality of life will now depend on how well he responds to treatment and rehab.

There is a "coaching moment" to be had here though gentlemen, and it is this.  This situation can be one of those stories you tell your players about.  You think they don't listen, and a lot of times they don't, but you MUST keep rehashing these events.  Keep on your players about making good decisions and how their decisions have consequences.  Also teach about how these consequences are like throwing stones in a pond.  The bigger the stone, the bigger the ripple effect.  The bigger the consequences, the more people they have an effect on.  There is an entire town involved in this tragedy, and it could have been prevented with a little bit of thinking that would have led to better judgement.  I know I know, we've all been there, but as coaches I believe it is out DUTY to teach these young men how to make these decisions.  This is what's so hard about this situation, is that, as a coach, you feel as though you've failed.  You've let this young man down, by not helping him learn to make better choices.  There is always, and will always be that inner voice saying "You could have done more".

Anyhow, I wanted to just put this small blurb out there about my situation.  I'm not looking for pity or condolences, I'm trying to help other coaches and young coaches just getting into the profession.  Don't coach from August to December and then disappear until spring ball rolls around.  Don't ever let a coaching moment or teaching moment slip by.  Don't ever pass a player in the hallway without saying hello or shaking their hand.  You never know what kind of impact that has on a young person.  You may never ever know how you effect people, but just know this, it does matter, and it does make a difference.  Please take that with you as you enter the off-season.  Don't go into hiding, our young people need coaching and teaching daily, regardless of whether or not your stipend covers that.  Keep teaching, and molding these young folks.  It was your duty when you signed up to be a "coach".