By Courtney Warren
I see you after the football games. Your mood is oftentimes a direct reflection of the numbers on the scoreboard. You know you’re about to have to face those conversations that may be good or bad, but those conversations can uplift or deflate you.
Most times, you’re loved on and told you’re an amazing coach. You’re given encouragement by your mentor, you’re told you matter by your players and parents, and you’re given pats on the backs and high fives as you leave the field. But, unfortunately, sometimes - and it’s rare this year - but sometimes you’re told you’re the worst coach ever and anyone could call a better play than that. Sometimes you doubt yourself when a player full of heart is injured and out for the season. It’s those words, those doubts, we always seem to hear the loudest, isn’t it?
Of course, they could coach it better when standing in the stands. We all could.
You stay at the school hours after everyone else has gone home, drawing up plays and making lists. Those are the same plays and lists I find on scraps of napkins as I turn out pockets to do the wash.
On days when you feel defeated, both on the field and off, I want you to remember for whom you coach.
It’s so easy for you to believe that you’re coaching for the administration that hired you.
But that’s not why you coach.
It can sometimes feel like you coach for the parents - ever so careful you don’t say anything that might upset them or get twisted in translation...might make them think you’re pushing their child too hard or being unfair.
That’s not why you coach.
You don’t coach to ensure their child gets the same amount of playing time as everyone else.
That’s not why you coach.
You can even think you coach for a school, a mascot, colors on a banner, or another coach.
None of that is why you coach.
You coach to ensure their child understands that their playing time is a direct reflection of what they do in their off time.
You coach for the group of boys that show up to school an hour early, smaller and younger than everyone else, but lifting heavier weights than some seniors.
You coach for the college sophomore that texts you every single holiday to tell you how much he appreciates all you did for him his senior year. He’s at your games every Friday night.
You coach for the other college sophomore that looks into the stadium seats to find you. Because he knows you’re there, whether he steps onto the field or not.
You coach for the player that runs into your room to show you camp letters, college letters and recruitment texts.
You coach for the players that find you in Wal-Mart as we’re out shopping to tell you how much they love you.
You coach for the babies that wanted a Pee-wee football team.
You coach for the Okra Campers that needed someone as enthusiastic and goofy as you as their leader.
You coach for the elementary kids that walked up to you at church and said “Hey, Coach,” with a deep Southern drawl.
You coach for the cafeteria workers that always slip extra snacks “for Coach.”
You coach for the little boy still inside you that stood on the sidelines all through elementary school watching the big boys play football.
You coach for the little boy that said, “Throw the ball, Daddy,” when he was still learning to run well.
You coach for your own little girl, who asks every Friday, “Are we going to see Daddy’s game?”
You even coach for me.
And, most importantly, you coach because it’s what God made you to do. You coach because He gave you a passion. A fire. A true gift to be a light to every player you come across. To show them what humble looks like. To show them what Christ’s love looks like. To show that God never gives up on them - and neither does their coach.
There will be wins and losses. That’s life, and that’s football. I know there will be more wins, but I pray for enough losses to appreciate the victories.
But, as I see you come home and drop your soaking wet shoes at the door, hang your whistle and hat on the wall, and love on our daughter with tired eyes, I’m just grateful - along with hundreds of others.
I’m so grateful that you coach.