Dear Coach, Please Stand.
You either stand for something, or you can slink out of the hot, uncomfortable spotlight. There’s either a microscope on you, or you blend into the background, making no mark on anything around you. So often I want to wish away all the politics, the drama, the trying to please everyone, the holding players accountable but attempting the impossible task of not rocking the boat in an entitled world.
Have you ever lead a team and felt the sting of doubt creep in when some person has distorted and warped your very message into something you can’t even try to recognize and pronounced it as fact? When people who haven’t taken the time to know you at all, stand on the mountain top proclaiming your intentions to be unworthy?
How often do we question ourselves, our purpose, our abilities? How easy is it for us to look longingly at the hidden shadow where the safety of not standing up for something beckons us? Where we can safely encourage others to have a voice, while we stifle our own to guard our hearts. How long can we stand against the tide when we feel tired and unsure if we even matter. Are we even reaching anyone anymore? Is there still a point to all of this?
But what then would we be, if we were to escape the difficult culture all too many coaches are living in these days for perhaps just a bit of respite from the heat. How long would we truly be happy knowing that we were turning our backs on the very kids who need our support, guidance, belief in them, cheering and leadership, only to gain a bit of comfort? And would we regretfully long for the smell of the grass, the morning chill, the whistle sounds in the background, the giggles, the high fives and the game, oh that game. Would we miss the game that we love?
There is no power, no ego to claim, no entitlement in leading or coaching, there is only service. There is no great monetary benefit, accolades, parades, statues, grand titles, or privileges to be gained when we choose to lead youth athletes through learning to master a game, and navigate the challenges of life.
Oh, but there is a reward. There is a bounty so large and so great that no matter how many times we may face those questioning our purpose, our motives, our passions, we must not walk away or become defeated. The reward is why we stay, why we come back, why when in the darkest most powerful windstorms we continue, to stand.
This reward is unlike other rewards that are meant only for one person who seeks it. This reward is a waterfall that cascades from the coach to the player, to the family of the player, to the players who one day play for that player as they grow up and become a coach themselves. This reward comes back up to the coach, it reaches countless lives, it grows, it breathes, it lives in every single person that thrives in the experience they have gained. This reward doesn’t sit on a shelf and gather dust. It doesn’t wear out in time, it holds no limit or title. It’s the fulfillment of your purpose, it has no price tag, no expiration date, no required retirement age. It’s bigger than any doubter, political twister, position seeker, or power monger.
So, Stand Up, Coach. Let those who have false motives simply wash away with the tides of time. Keep reaching, stretching, growing, empowering, guiding, loving, serving and know that challenges are but a validation that you have chosen to stand for something, for someone, for many someones.
So Stand. Stand for every player whose life has been blessed by your service. Stand for every moment a player has blessed you in return.
So though you may sometimes looking longingly into the shadow, where relief and quiet lay, hear the whisper on the wind – “Dear Coach, Please Stand.”