Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Coach

Coach.  It's a title that means a lot to me.  As a child I looked up to my coaches, especially my father.  My asthma was always too bad to be an athlete.  At the ripe old age of 13 I made the jump from athlete to coach.

At 13 coaching was more like playing with the younger kids and helping them improve in the few extra things that I had learned that they hadn't yet.   I started with Little League at 13.  I was not an official coach of the All-Star team when they went 2nd in state, but I had been to and coached at every single practice all year, and been to every game, and every all-star practice and helped coach there too.   Whether I was on the books or not, I was a coach of that team.  That was my first glimpse into how amazing coaching could be.

I remember the themes of the conversations with the other coaches, all of them men in their 30s and 40s.  We never talked about how to win a game or beat an opponent.  Our rules were simple.  We were going to teach the basics of baseball and drill it into them until it's 2nd nature.   I swear our team would take 30 minutes of ground balls from 2nd and short while the outfields had 30 minutes of practice judging and catching fly balls every day.  We would work on situations every day, and we would run every day.  We didn't hit every day.   Looking back it seems strange to realize that in a sport where the only way to win is to get on base and score, we didn't work on hitting every day.  Our focus was to teach the fundamentals so well that we would make fewer mistakes than the other team and they would lose the game to us.   And it happened, over and over.   As a coach I was never on a team with a losing record.

I've since moved on from my young beginnings in Little League baseball, to junior high girls softball, t-ball, soccer, junior football, and basketball.

Sports are an amazing outlet for me to reach out and teach kids not only about the fundamentals in the sport, but about how it's ok to make mistakes and to learn from them.   I consider myself a coach in everything I do.  As a development manager of computer programmers, I don't tell the team what to do, I work with them, and I coach and correct mistakes that they make.  I coach the kids in their sports, and I coach my own children in life.   In life I only have a few saying that I come back to again and again: "You don't have to be the best, but you should always try to be your best", "If you aren't failing, you probably aren't pushing yourself hard enough.  It's ok to fail, that's how you grow", and "It doesn't matter that you made a mistake or screwed up, don't give up, get up and try again".

I have my faults and I make mistakes, but I think if I can stick to those three fundamentals, then I'll come out on top.