It’s funny how you never really notice when it is you become a man. Over time it happens, sort of a culmination of lessons and experiences that let you finally feel something different, something important. You can reach back, much like I have, into your childhood to see the beginnings, when fathers and sons bond and all you want to do is be like dad.
But, like most boys, I had more than just my father. Fortunately, as involved in athletics as I was, I encounter some great coaches, men who taught me so much; however, one man gave me more than simple athletic knowledge or basic discipline.
Ralph King, my soccer coach at Brien McMahon High School in the late 80’s, had an unparalleled passion for winning, with his every move in practice or in a match driven at getting the team to succeed. Yet, even though he had this goal, his value rested deep beneath, for when we didn’t win was when he may have been at his best.
You see, he gave us all tools for becoming men. He made us appreciate the value of hard work without always getting the end result you want, essentially engraining in us that the journey forever overshadows the destination. And he opened our eyes to the importance of family, to never worry about an opponent if you had a belief in those who stood with you.
As the years passed, I walked in his footsteps, coaching my own high school varsity team, and my decisions, philosophies, and beliefs derive from so much that he taught. Possibly the greatest trait he showed was that he looked not for praise or admiration in his actions; instead, I always suspected that one day he knew we would all understand why he did what he did.
Now I do, and I am a better man for it.