I wanted to write today

I found myself wanting to write today. This is something that hasn’t happened in a while. The catalyst was I happened to be washing dishes and my mind started wandering. This is something I picked up from my father. He would wash, I would dry back when we lived together. I may or may not have stuck myself a bit with a knife, which reminded me of a story for another day about washing dishes with my dad. But I digress.

The past two days I had 9 freshmen move in and the 9 returners will be arriving soon. They come from all over the country and world. They come to WV to be part of the legacy we are building with our squad.

I got an email from a recruit last night that had been weighing on my mind. I get ones like this all the time, but the player asked me if I would be interested in recruiting them but understood if not because some coach/person/friend/family member at some point told them they couldn’t play at the next level because of their (insert nonprototypical trait here).

When I am asked about coaching influences, I usually don’t list my dad, but he is as deserving if not more deserving than any coach in my life.

Before we moved from small town Bloomsburg to the regular sized town of Mechanicsburg PA, my dad coached me in soccer. A sport that he really knew nothing about. When we moved, it was too late for him to be a rec league coach so in 3rd grade I found myself playing for the first coach not to be my dad. It was a bad enough experience that I almost gave up the sport permanently.

Going into 4th grade, my dad took up his coaching ways again. Later in life I would go with him to what I will refer to as ‘the draft’. It was where all the rec league coaches came together. Each coach was allowed a number of keepers from their previous roster and then all remaining players were given a skill level out of 10. The coaches then drafted their teams for the upcoming year. My father hated this process, and wanted me to see it so I could understand. Kids reduced to a number. Something I now see all the time in recruiting.

But stepping back to that 4th grade soccer season. My dad drafted a team that was almost exclusively the neighborhood I lived in so we could have the experience of playing with our friends. If he would have had a draft card score on that, it would probably have been an F-.

Some of us would later become solid athletes, but at that time none of us were anything above average. If memory serves only two of those players went on to even play at the high school level, and none at the college level.

We went undefeated that year. Which isn’t the part I care about 20ish years later. I can still look back and see my dad yelling out Greek Machine when my defender made a good stop. Or Elmer as our other goalie brought down a shot. Placing a season clinching penalty kick into the feet of one of the few nonneighborhood kids on the team. My father showed me the power of positive motivation as a coach. By truly investing and believing in each athlete on the field he was able to make us into something no one would have believed we could have been: A championship team.

So today’s lesson from my father is What can you do today to help someone else become their best?

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