Answering what appears to be on the surface a very simple question is part of every coach’s journey. One of my favorite answers to the question comes from Lou Holtz in his book Wins, Losses, and Lessons. Here is what Coach Holtz said:
“Coaching gives one a chance to be successful as well as significant. The difference between those two is that when you die, your success comes to an end. When you are significant, you continue to help others be successful long after you are gone. Significance lasts many lifetimes. That is why people teach, why people lead, and why people coach.”
A wonderful answer to an important question, but that is coach Holtz’s answer not mine. Every coach will have a different answer and it may evolve over time. An answer I often here from volunteer coaches is, I coach because I love my child and want to participate in their life, or no one else would, so I thought I’d fill the void. Both legitimate and good reasons to coach, but I ask all coaches to reflect on their own reasons for coaching.
Like many coaches, I have considered this question and have had many varied reasons for coaching over my twenty years in the role. I love the game of soccer, I like the competition athletics provide, it’s fun, but what I have come to understand during my time in Lexington and being a part of such a wonderful community is that I coach because I love the growth that it provides in my life and in the lives of the people that I come across.
Being a father of three boys under the age of five, I’m always awestruck at how quickly they “grow”. Growth involves struggles and obstacles along the way. Mistakes will be made and set backs will occur, but it’s amazing to watch a child persevere to take their first steps, or draw a sea monster better than before, or write a letter a little more clearly. The joy they exhibit in this personal growth is one I cherish and get to share with them. Coaching allows me to share these types of moments with so many different people. Their growth inspires me to keep growing in turn.
Watching a young player struggle with the ball at his or her feet, and then spend hours working to master a command of it is a form of growth. Observing a player that is shy come out of her shell and begin to interact with her teammates is a form of growth. Observing a player pick up after himself and help clear the field instead of having a parent do it is a form of growth. Watching a coach go from a tentative novice to one that can take charge and lead a group is a form of growth. The opportunities for growth are endless, which to me is what makes the game, and life, so special. Not only do the children (and coaches) benefit in these moments, but they begin to progress as people whether it is from the discipline to put in the necessary effort, learning to cooperate with their peers, or to begin to take ownership of a task. It’s awesome to observe and be a part of.
Two of the great motivators for me in my coaching are the children and the volunteer coaches. Can I provide a better practice, a more understanding ear, and a more thoughtful voice? Searching for ways to do this has helped me grow. I’ve made mistakes along the way, but I’ve learned to embrace them and grow from them. At the end of my practices I’m very fortunate that I often have people say thank you. Those are two wonderful words that often don’t get said enough, but I would be remiss if I didn’t say thank you in return. Thank you for allowing me to coach and continue to grow. Whether it’s taking our first steps, or watching our children do the same, there is always a joy and satisfaction that only growth can provide.