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Coach’s lessons could be life-changers, live-savers for players

Over the course of the past week, I have taken the time to reflect on some ideas and views.
In the sports world, there are many factors that go into the development of an athlete. Perhaps the most important factor is the athlete’s home life and relationship with family.
Unfortunately, for many athletes, that part of the development and experience is obsolete. Many athletes are absent a father or mother and even in some cases, an entire family.
Sports is the one thing that many of these athletes turn to for comfort, and a team becomes more of a family, and coaches take on the role of parent.
For some this may be a hard column to read, but the truth of the matter is that, unfortunately, this is a harsh fact.
For many, a coach is defined as an individual who is focused just on winning games and trophies. That is far from the truth.
Coaches, especially high school coaches, take on important roles as role models and true leaders. There is so much more to the job than sitting back in an office chair, reading plays and developing schedules.
A coach’s job requires him or her to be a father or mother to an entire team of young people.
In today’s world, it troubles me that so many of our youth have to continue life without a father or mother at home to comfort them or help celebrate their achievements.
As they leave the locker room at the end of the day, young athletes go home to many different situations. Some go home to physical and mental abuse, while others go home to nothing.
As a coach, it is your job to lead young people and teach them much more than the concepts of a game. It is also a coach’s role to teach each and every athlete the concepts of life.
In larger cities that have escalated gang and crime numbers, coaches take on the role of counselor, parent, role model and leader. In some instances, these coaches have to deal with the fact that many of their players are lost to drugs, crime and even crime-related deaths.
I recently met an individual who coaches a Chicago football team. Last week one of his players was killed in a drive-by shooting.
One week prior to the young man’s murder, the coach had convinced the young man to leave gang life behind with the help of Christ. The player had just been saved and baptized and was going to go on a family trip with the coach.
He was only 15 years old.
It is stories like this that trouble me on a day-to-day basis. As a coach, he did everything he could to make a difference in that player’s life. Because of it, the player was saved and chose to leave behind the life that ultimately caused his death.
Young people sometimes make tough decisions that may not always be the best.
It is a coach’s job to step in and care. That is the one requirement of the job that will not be found on a job application.
Caring is crucial to your success as a coach and team. As football season closes in over the course of the next few weeks, coaches should challenge themselves to care about their teams this season, not only on the field but off.
The lessons that you instill in a young players life may just save it.