The Coach!

Let’s break down what it means to be a coach and to change kids' lives with your skill and your words. How competition and physical fitness in early years are essential.

Today’s high school students are expected to navigate a myriad of challenges that are unique in our society. State assessment exams, curriculum changes, and the daily grind that teenagers face as they mature into young adults are a few examples of what they will encounter.

Coaches can inspire influence in ways that parents can’t.

Sometimes, the most powerful influences on a child’s life are manifested through sports and the games are where they learn how to compete in life.

The coach can change a child’s perception of hard work, of competition, and maybe most importantly, of themselves.

The gridiron teaches them the necessity of teamwork and the basketball court teaches them how discipline will reap greater rewards than impulsivity can ever provide. The coach shows them that someone they don’t even know, someone who doesn’t know that kid, can motivate and inspire them to do the things they want to do simply because they believe in themselves.

The coach must create an environment and a construct where teenagers can thrive in their high school sport and experience the benefits that sport offers. It takes a certain type of individual to do that.

A good coach has a well-developed coaching philosophy that is critical to coaching and enables them to be more consistent in their interactions with athletes. Coaches know they hold the key to effective coaching and that key would be the strength of the relationship he would build with the athletes he would teach.

Coaches know that if they are successful, they will empower athletes, improve communication, and discover what motivates each individual by building strong relationships with their athletes.

If you listen to the young people’s stories of becoming successful athletes, you hear one predominate stated detail of what they learned along the well-trodden and weary trail. Somewhere along the way, those kids who do find success had coaches who believed in them. The oddity of this is that for some unknown reason, it is difficult to believe the compliments and assurances from one’s parents.

In the early days, my brother and I would run through the alfalfa fields. The memory of him chasing me flashed through my mind. When I outran him, he wasn’t at all offended. We were brothers after all.

Later I ran in a race and finished 3rd. behind my brother. He asked me,

“Why didn’t you pass me?”

He told me,

“Remember what I told you back in the alfalfa fields, you are too fast!”

But my love for my brother caught up to me. I could never outrun it. He told me this,

“The next race you enter, I want you to win!”

My coach showed me so much of life that I may have simply run past without him. Things like the proper arm swing when running; learning the ability to change my arm swing from unchecked to one with balance and rhythm and the importance of warming up before an event and then cooling down afterward.

How to set goals and then push myself to achieve them.

How to make tactical decisions during the biggest races, while running.

On his cross-country team, my running improved. he entered me into not only district meets, but big invitationals too, where I had the opportunity to compete against runners from big city schools.

He had me run the mile and the 800 meter as well. This was my track workout. He told me to run those races as fast as possible. To teach my legs the pace and ingrain it into my thighs and calves.

“Muscles don’t forget!”

In some meets, I ran the anchor leg in the mile medley.

During my senior year, we decided to sacrifice our chances for state at the district meet by putting me in the open 800-meter race instead of the medley. The mile team did not qualify but I not only qualified for state but also set a new state record in the 800-meter race.

My high school training program was unstructured, and freelanced to put it another way,

Coach put his right hand on my shoulder and said,

“That boy over there is the state champion. I want you to stay right behind him until you get to the top. Then pass him and run down as fast as you can.”

I stayed on his heels at the beginning of the race. Couldn’t take any chances of letting him get away. Near the top, the champ slowed down almost to a walk, he looked down at me with an expression of intense and unprecedented panic. That sent me roaring past him like a bolt of lightning, sprinting ahead on the flat. I had to get down the slope first. I didn’t want to get into a neck and neck with him at the finish line.

I could see the coach waving his cap up and down over his head. This was the signal I always looked for during every meet in all my high school races. My breath was short, my heart was pumping overtime.

I was favored to win the small division. I had to beat a record placed at the golden west invitational.

Before the race, I was standing near the finish line with my friend and former teammate.

Then, when it was my turn to run, I went out fast and left the pack behind. From the top of the first hill, I could see a stream of runners. I set a very fast pace and sprinted to the finish. My time was 9:41.

I ended my cross-country and track high school career by winning the mile and the 800-meter race at the state championships later that year. I set a new record in the 800 Meter.

The day after that meet, a photo of me and the coach ran on the front page of the Albuquerque Journal.

We had an assembly at the high school to honor my victories and that was the highlight of my running career.

I remember that day well, and shall never forget it.

Students filtered into the gym, laughing softly, smiling, and talking, with barely audible voices.

I walked into the gym and up onto the stage near the podium mic.

I started my speech by thanking my coach,

“I’m so grateful for everything you have done during the past years to help me out. Thank you, Coach!

The room erupted in applause and congratulatory yells. I will never forget that moment and the massive contribution given to me by my couch in my young life.