One of the most important names a man/woman can be called is, “coach.” At first glance a coach merely looks like a guide or a teacher of sporting fundamentals, teamwork, competition and sportsmanship. But often they are so much more. They are mentors, and are often looked upon by players as people who can help them accomplish something important.
I’ve followed and participated in sports all of my life in some form. I’ve played for some coaches I adored and some I abhorred. This had nothing to do with whether a coach was a hard liner or an encourager in terms of style. I am talking about other areas that make the difference. These are the two questions I ask of my coaches.
“Does Coach know anything about the sport he/she is trying to teach me? ”
“Is Coach in this for me or for him?”
I could always tell on the first day of practice what the answer to these questions were. And that determined my experience on the team.
A coach can have a tremendous amount of influence on a kid. The right coach can get a player to do things he never imagined he could. He can help the player to learn some terriffic lessons in navigating in life through sports. On the other hand a coach can be a horrible influence and teach young people the total opposite of how to handle situations or themselves. I have seen both sides of these. And one thing I cannot tolerate to see is a coach who works with young people for the sake of his/her own ego and sense of glory. One of the coolest thing to see is a coach who loves the kids he/she works with.
As a basketball official, I see coaches all the time. Many of them I’ve worked often.
A case of knowing a coach is in it for the right reasons is one that I ran into recently at a tournement. This guy is a two time Missouri High School Coach of the Year and won a state championship. Certainly he is one of the most respected basketball coaches in the state. His players go to Division 1 universities and some have gone to the NBA. When I officiated one of his games recently I would have expected to see high school teens getting ready for the upcoming season. What I saw instead was a group of 5th graders learn at the hands of one of the best. From the tip off to the final buzzer this guy taught, instructed and encouraged his players to an easy victory. His team was calm, seem to feel no pressure and really enjoyed themselves. This wasn’t the first time I saw a coach who could coach pretty much anywhere he wanted take time for younger underdeveloped players. Though I don’t care who wins the games I officiate, it felt good to see adults who understand the importance of taking time out for our youth – and who can handle this great responsibility correctly. Some of these coaches are nuts and shouldn’t be around young people at all. Most of them (even the ones that don’t seem to know anything about the game) are caring and compassionate towards our future leaders of society.
For everyone who takes time to coach and guide our youth the right way… I salute you!