Recently a very humbling thing happened to me that reminded me of the role coaches can play in young people’s lives.
If you didn’t know, earlier in my ‘professional life’ I was a Head Baseball Coach and Strength & Conditioning Coach at a small state University in Ohio.
A few days ago I was speaking with one of my former players (Ted) who is now the Head Coach at the University I coached at and he told me that in the Spring they would be hosting the Pat Rigsby Invitational Tournament – something that he and another player I coached (Brian) who is also a Collegiate Head Coach dreamed up and will have their teams participating in.
Needless to say – I was very humbled and very honored.
But it also reminded me once again of the impact that a coach can have on a young person. I think back to several of my coaches and the experience they helped me have and how it instilled a lifelong love of sports in me.
In fact, about a decade later I look back to my baseball coaching days and the things that I’m most proud of are the successes that my former players have achieved and how many of them have gone into coaching – hopefully, in part, a testament to them having a good experience while they were under my care.
I do some coaching again, and these days it’s with 9 yr. olds instead of college athletes. A decade ago my objectives revolved around winning Championships, beating rivals and graduating players. Now my goal is pretty simple – I want the kids to have a good enough experience that they are excited to play again next season.
If that happens I feel like I’ve done my job as a coach.
My logic is simple: if they’re excited about playing again next season then they’ve obviously improved over the course of this season. They’ve had their share of successes. They had fun. They weren’t bored. It was a positive enough experience that they’re excited to do it again.
I truly believe that, outside of a parent, a coach can have as much or more impact than anyone on a young person. And (to quote either Voltaire or Spider Man) ‘with this great power comes great responsibility.’
It’s our responsibility as a coach to not only teach the fundamentals and mechanics of sport and fitness. It’s our responsibilities to help instill values. It’s also our responsibility to provide an experience for the young people we serve that ignites a passion for sport and fitness. All things that carry on once your time with them comes to an end.
There were a handful of coaches that did this for me. They taught. They inspired. They instilled a passion that continues to this day. That’s the power of a coach.
Dedicated to your success,
You must be doing something right if some of your student are now coaches. I believe that with coaching, especially young people, it is more about fun and teaching life skills to the next generation. This is our legacy as coaches. We are not only affecting the here and now but we are also are having a ripple effect to generations to come. You have received positive fruit from your labor. That is an awesome gift to receive. Congratulations and keep up the good work!!!
You obviously are doing right by the athletes you coach. They see the value in what you say. But why is that? Because it makes sense? Of course. Beyond that they hear it in your voice. Your passion also comes through in your writing. More important than that they see it in your actions. Your work ethic speaks volumes, as it does for every coach. The life skills from sports are an invaluable transition.
I make it a point to tell my athletes about the life skills through sports to make sure they can see it from the beginning. Sometimes I find myself teaching values that should be taught at home, but you do what you have to for the team and for the individual. We are the most important group to shape our society. The team reaps the rewards of how the individuals practice and how they act everywhere they go as a representative of your organization. They give respect to their teammates, opponents, and coaches because of the values we teach and insist on. The carry over is evident everywhere else as they interact with those they come in contact with. Of course it is not 100%. Not every athlete/student will turn out the way we desire. We do our best and we keep doing our best. You never know what you will say that will click, so you continue to teach.
I teach and coach on the high school level. Some days I want to pull out the little amount of hair I have. Other days, I see evidence that some understand and it helps me go on. Once in a while you get a visit or a letter from a former student/athlete who tells how you positively impacted their life. That is the best. That helps you go on for a long time. You know that it’s worth all the effort.
Profound thoughts on coaching… every coach should read and practice this one… where were these ideas when I was starting out as a coach? Now, if we could combine this with teaching toughness (mental and physical), that would be the ultimate quest! Is it possible? Or, is it just all about “mother nature”?
Great timely ideas and story, thanks!
Hey Pat, You’ve stated things about the influence of coaching very nicely, which itself demonstrate your clarity of vision. And it’s true, it is a lot of fun to teach and coach kids about their activities and sports and all the other “good stuff” that might have more meaning to them throughout their life (I know a couple of my coaches did). Cheers, PeterC
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