If you have ever played a high school sport, you know that there is always at least one coach who’s influence touches your life many years later. At the time you knew them, you might have thought them to be overbearing or even mean, but later in life you find yourself thankful to have had their guidance.
My favorite coach ran our team like the military. We never found out what would have actually happened if we were late to practice because we were all so scared that no one ever was. One of his many mantras was “To be early is to be on time. To be on time is to be late.” He would often remind us of this at the beginning of every session. He’d begin the saying and we would all complete it in unison (often with rolling eyes). This is a lesson I’ve come to be thankful for as I have grown and entered the workforce. Paired with this teaching was the encouragement to honor your commitments and do what you said you would. Skipping practice was to let the entire team down and it meant you would not be allowed to play. Instead, you would be sitting on the sidelines cheering them on.
Another saying which has proved to be true is that “Practice makes permanent.” This is to say that only perfect practice makes perfect. The idea is to be diligent in doing things the proper way when learning or practicing because you will be repeating them in the same manner, correct or not.
I also learned from this coach’s belief that everyone keeps themselves too busy to excel at anything. He taught that while having many interests will keep you well rounded, you will probably be mediocre at everything you do. If you really want to be great at any one thing, it is necessary to prioritize and focus on honing your skill. I took advantage of this lesson in college and while choosing a career path.
All coaches do a wonderful thing by volunteering to give up their own free time to inspire a team to win. The really special ones find a way to inspire even a losing team, to be successful long after the season ends. They teach us life lessons such as : playing fair, good sportsmanship, playing as a team, and honoring commitments. I will probably never play a competitive sport again, but I will always by grateful for the lessons I learned while participating. I probably won’t ever know how much my life was changed by one man.