Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Sports and Friends ... What Really Counts! Winning Is Great and Championships Are Always Fun, but the Friendships You Take with You Will Remain, Long after the Last Whistle Blast Is Heard

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Sports and Friends ... What Really Counts! Winning Is Great and Championships Are Always Fun, but the Friendships You Take with You Will Remain, Long after the Last Whistle Blast Is Heard

Article excerpt

I often think how lucky I have been in my life. I have a great family, a good job and some wonderful people I am lucky enough to call friends. When I thought about this the other day, I realized that I have met most through sports. Some have been friends since childhood. Others are colleagues or other coaches and officials I have had the pleasure to have worked with. In sports, you share a common bond through the common experiences that are shared with teammates, players under your care and the people in and around the games you come in contact with each day. I don't believe this happens by accident. I believe that each person you come in contact with teaches you something or gives you something that can never be replaced. Friendship and loyalty are part of the sports process. You trust your teammates, your coaches and eventually, yourself!

My best friend of 52 years played on the same little league team that I played on. He was the catcher while I was the pitcher. We became fast friends and since we liked the same things, built a friendship that has lasted a lifetime. I was the best man in his wedding. His mom and my mom took turns feeding us dinner when we were at each other's house. And though we went to different high schools and at times lived far away from each other, there was always the catch up phone call and the planning that would go into our next golf outing, Giants game, or other venture. That's all because two young men became friends in little league and learned to trust each other. I value his friendship and his advice more than anything!

Other friends that have stayed a part of my life played on teams with me in high school. Whether a school team or summer program, these gentlemen have laughed at the same stories and shared many a meal and a drink while telling those stories. My JV basketball coach from high school is still a close friend and confidant! His advice is usually "spot on" and his loyalty and demeanor are something I wish I could pass on to young coaches today. Other men have shared the same vocation and are still a part of my life today. What could be better than that?

I have been very lucky to have one friend who is very well known as a mentor to many a coach, teacher and student athlete. He lists a super bowl winning coach as one his best friends, but always seemed to have time to pass on many words of wisdom to a young athletic director eager for advice. I learned from him that loyalty might be the most important value we learn in our career. I have tried to pass that on to many a young coach as they began their career. Sometimes you just have to step back and give tough advice to a friend. I have a young coach that I know who has a great future. However, he was spending far too much time coaching and was ignoring his future career as an educator. I finally told him that I would not rehire him as a coach until he was in his certification program and making his way through that with good progress. I am pleased to report that he is in the final stages of his teacher/counselor certification process and now should be able to progress up the academic ladder as well as the coaching ranks. That talk was not an easy conversation to have with him. However, he now sees it was necessary and we have become fast friends. I didn't make that idea up. That was taught to me by my long time friend and mentor and I was happy that someone else benefitted from it. …

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