I have been running with my high school’s cross-country team, which meets at 6AM on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. About 40-50 kids show up, some of the kids having already graduated but coming back to hang out with their coaches and their friends. Today, I think there were seven kids who are now in college.
Today, I ran with a young man who’s going into his sophomore year in college—a really nice kid who wasn’t in one of my classes, so today was the first time I’d ever had a conversation with him.
The fact that he was back, at 6AM on a hot, humid morning, to run with his old cross country team made me realize the long lasting impact that coaches can have on their athletes and made me also think about the fact that most people don’t realize that.
I’m still in contact with both of my high school track coaches: I talked on the phone with one of them last week, a man I used to call “Dad” when he was coaching me, and I still sometimes call him that, and I had a brief Facebook discussion with the other one on the weekend.
I’m also still in contact with some of the kids that I coached. In fact, I just chatted with one of them, because I wanted to tell her about something that had happened at practice that reminded me of her.
The bonds between student-athletes and their coaches can be deep, long lasting, and very significant to the future lives of students.
I don’t coach anymore, so now I’m just an extra adult around in case any kid gets lost on the run, or overheated, or just needs the ear of an adult, but I like watching these deep bonds being forged from a-now-outsider’s point of view.
I respect the commitment, passion and dedication that I see: these two men get up at god-only-knows-what-time to run with a bunch of teenagers, without pay (contracts don’t start until sometime in August), so that these kids get a chance to hone their skills and build camaraderie before the official season even starts.
While I may only get to see (firsthand) the time, energy and passion that these two men are putting in, I know that many coaches exhibit this level of commitment—at least at my school.
By the way, they do all of this for very little pay (when I was coaching, I figured out my hourly wage, and it was four dollars an hour).
Why am I telling you this? Perhaps the general public may not realize the significance of what happens behind-the-scenes in sports, but perhaps they should know it; and I am also coming back to the idea that some of what good teachers do can’t be evaluated. How does one “evaluate” the significance of seven college students running with their high school coaches on a hot day at six in the morning?