Tag Archives: coach

Not in a Hurry

I found out that I’m dying.  How’s that for an opening line?  I found this out about 40 years ago, when my great grandmother, Emma, passed away and I attended my very first funeral.  At 5 years old, I quickly caught on that dying was not a great thing.  It was the first time I had seen my mom cry and it scared me.  I associated death as a bad thing at that point.

Over the next few years, I lost several more relatives, including my 16 year old cousin Carla when I was 10.  She had kidney disease and the doctors told her parents that she wouldn’t live to see her 16th birthday.  She proved them wrong by passing away early in the morning the very day she turned 16.  That death still hurts me 35 years later.  Carla was my baby sitter and best friend, if you can consider your cousin your friend.  As an only child, I would beg my mom to let her come over during the summer when I wasn’t staying with my grandparents.  She taught me how to play Monopoly, as well as how to properly pronounce it.  It’s funny that I can still here her voice just as if I had heard her on the phone 10 minutes ago.

I’ve since lost most of my family including my parents and all grandparents.

It was an odd, almost surreal, feeling when I became the patriarch of my family line.  There was no family member left to turn to for advice or  to share my childhood memories with.  Almost out of instinct, I still pick up the phone to call my grandmother, who passed from this world over 10 years ago, whenever I get the urge to speak to her.  And I’m consumed with grief when I realize, after the clock tics a few times, that she’s not here anymore.  Why do I do that?

Strangely enough, I’m prepared for my own death.  Notice I didn’t say I’m in a HURRY for it, but just prepared.  My wife hates it when I talk about it because she’s 10 years younger and odds are she will outlive me by at least 15 years and who would want a life without me in it, right?  I have no fear of death…maybe a little fear surrounding HOW I will die, but not death itself.  It’s a road we will all cross to our judgement.  I don’t fear judgement, but that’s a conversation for another time.

That being said, I don’t think I’m ready to die just yet.  If I look at my grandfather’s and grandmother’s siblings age when they died, I can expect I will live to be in my late 80’s.  My grandfather and all but one of his siblings died in their 90’s.  At 45, I’m thinking I’m right at the half way point in my life.  That might be a little audacious to think because I’m 75 pounds overweight, but I’m working on that.

I’m not ready to die just yet because I’m not finished living out the purpose God put me here for.  I have paintings to paint, hugs to give, books to write, friends to make, jokes to laugh at, babies to hold, photos to take, advice to give, questions to ask, teams to coach…I could go on and on.

There’s little chance I’m going to change the world with any of the above, but at a minimum, I’ll leave a ripple, maybe even a wave.  Traditional thinking would say, at 45 “your chances are fading.” I would offer an alternate and less jaded opinion that says I have more to offer in the way of “wisdom” now that ever before.  Why would I have started writing about a life yet lived?  I’ve built quite a resume of life exposure over the last 45 years that will benefit someone along my path.

And in the end, like the boy throwing the starfish back into the ocean, if help one person along this journey, I’ve change that person’s world.  That’s my life purpose and I firmly believe we all share that same mission – to change the world by helping those we come in contact with.  It could be something as simple as a smile to someone having a bad day, or putting dent in your bank account to help that young couple at church that just lost both their jobs and found out they are having a baby.  You can find a way to make one person’s world better without looking far.

So until my work is finished, I’ll stand by my statement…I’m prepared, but not in a hurry, to die.

Be awesome.Image

Coached by an 11 Year Old

Since I’ve had kids old enough to play sports or participate in team activities, I’ve coached.  My resume includes T-ball, softball, baseball, football, soccer, & Destination Imagination (check this one out).  Every team & child has had a distinct personality, but over time the kids have grown up, some are even married with kids of their own.   I’ve forgotten names and the faces are now blurry.  But often, one touches my heart.  

This year it’s Ethan (not his real name).  Ethan is obese.  During warm ups at soccer practice, he struggles to stretch.  When time comes to run a lap, he always goes last because he doesn’t want to hold up the line.  From the outside, there’s nothing remarkable.  I coached teams in the past years that’s played against him, and never really gave him a second thought.  However this year, I’ve discovered there’s a very special person shining bright for those that get to know him.

The first thing I noticed about Ethan was his manners.  He never asks or answers a question without a please or sir.  That is, unfortunately, becoming a rare trait in today’s youth.  Ethan is the first to help up a fallen team mate, or offer knuckles or a high five for a nice play.  His smile is infectious, as is his positive attitude.  

Friday night at practice, I asked him his plans for the night.  He said he was going home, getting his homework finished, so he could spend the rest of the weekend being awesome.  “What did you say?”  I asked.  He repeated his plans.  I was blown away by his answer.  It sat on my brain all night and I had to get more details.

After Saturday’s game, I asked Ethan how his Friday night went.  He said it was fine.  I then asked him what he meant the night before by “being awesome.”  He said that he thinks of ways to be a better person, and ways to be nice to other people.  Holy crap.  This is an 11 year old kid!  I patted his shoulder and told him to never stop being awesome.  He looked up and said “Never!” and jogged off to his parents.

I’m amazed at kid’s attitude.  Instead of feeling left out or embarrassed by his obesity, as I sometimes do (by definition, I’m obese as well), he totally ignores it and creates light in the darkness.  

I think I’m the one being coached this season, by an 11 year old, and I’ll gladly forfeit my title to be just like him.

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Coach Angryman

I’ve coached sports for my kids for many years now, starting with my daughter’s softball team, my son’s football team, and now my step-son’s soccer team.  I get more joy out of watching kids develop and seeing their face light up when they do something that didn’t think they could do than just about anything.  

Last year, the soccer team I was co-coaching was pretty good.  We had lost a few games through the year, but nothing larger than a margin of 2 point.  Because our town is so small and we were the only team in our age group, we were able to represent our town in the area tournament.  

Right away we faced a team that beat us in the regular season and, again, they beat us and put us in the losers bracket of the tournament.  This team was extremely aggressive and fast.  They played right at the line of unsportsmanlike like, pushing and throwing elbows when the referees weren’t looking.  Alas, it’s one part of the game I do not like, but it’s not altogether uncommon in some towns.

We managed to win the remaining games and late that Saturday night, we faced the undefeated team yet again.  We lost to them in the regular season, and earlier in the day.  To say that confidence wasn’t high would be an understatement.  They were big, fast, and skilled…and a little bit mean too.  

I’m not going to drag the story out because it’s only setting the stage.  We beat the team by one goal.  Our kids played the game of their lives, every one playing above their skill level.  Unfortunately, the evening had a stain on it.  The coach of the other team was livid.  He yelled and screamed at his kids the entire time.  I don’t know about you, but I find it really hard to inspire 8 and 9 year old kids that way.  To top it off, after the game he refused to line up to shake hands and to sign the official scorecard.  Wow.

Fast forward to the first game of this season, two weeks ago.  Coach Angryman brought his team to our humble field for the season opener.  The game was never in contention.  We won 10-2.  Again, he showed his proverbial rear-end by getting into a verbal altercation with the referee about missing an off-sides call that I couldn’t have made  where I was standing, and Coach Angryman was 30 yards further away than I was.  To make matters worse, one of our players decided to dish out a little of what he had been receiving all game (against our wishes) and Coach Angryman said some not so nice words to him after the game.  Not wanting things to escalate any further, I gave the young man a quick lecture about being the better person, and to ignore the other coach.  I had to fight my own inner Angryman not to Crane-Kick him, Daniel Larusso style. 

This past weekend, we traveled to Mr. Angryman’s city to play another team.  When we were walking to drop our gear on the sidelines, we saw him walking toward us.  The other coach leaned in and whispered, “Here he comes.”

He reached out his hand and immediately said, “I’m so sorry about how I acted.  I don’t handle frustration well and I was more than frustrated with my own team.  I wanted to apologize to you and the young man I said something to.  Where is he?”  We called him over and the coach stuck out his hand and offered his apology to him, saying he was a great soccer player and he should never have said anything to him.

Talk about a total transformation.  My opinion of this guy went from lower than dog poop, to respect, not because he apologized to me and the other coach, but because he humbled himself in front of an 11 year old boy.  He could have asked us to tell him he was sorry, instead he chose to do it himself.  

When we realize that we’ve done something inappropriate to someone else, how motivated are we to chase down someone and fall face first on the ground asking for forgiveness?  Someone doesn’t have to apologize to be forgiven.  But it’s awesome to see someone grow by lowering themselves, even old Angrymen…even me.

Be awesome!

Chris