“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” – Shannon Alder
Last night was my first experience with the athletic banquet at our school. As it turns out, it will be my only one here as we’ll be whole grade sharing and this little high school with her students will be transplanted into another little bigger high school.
Let me say this first, I’m glad I went. I’m a jr. high coach, and one the totem pole of coaching, we usually rank right below the managers on the varsity level in terms of importance, so I debated on whether or not to attend. But, there’s a senior swimmer I wanted to support, along with my own daughter who swam, played basketball, and ran track, so away we went.
This was one of those night you just wish that could be bottled up and sipped from when times get rough. First, no one throws a potluck like this area. The food was wonderful, the conversation light and happy, weather was beautiful, it just seems to be right. We clean up and head into the gym, and the emotions start to bubble. This is it for our varsity staff. They will not have head coaching positions at our new high school (no all together right, but nothing much we can do about it now), so this was there last season here, so things were a bit raw. The night just took on a final family gathering. The tears, the laughter, the smiles, we all knew this was it for our school, yet, that magic just kept going.
You saw tears flowing from all over, but yet, there was a just a sense of finally knowing, after how many years, who we really are. We are runners, football players, and golfers. We are swimmers, managers, parents, and supporters. It’s sad to say that this chapter in our school is closing, yet, as I walked out, I couldn’t have been more proud of where this school has been and where it’s going. Much of that lays squarely at the feet of the coaches who spoke. They spoke eloquently of how they’d miss their teams, how much their players meant to them, and how next to being called “Dad” a coach’s greatest honor was being called that, “Coach”.
As I look at what I want to do and where I want to go, I’ve often thought that once my youngest daughter moves on, that would be it for me. After last night, maybe not so much. I love coaching, and I honestly can’t imagine NOT doing it. It’s who I am and what I love doing, teaching, but just in a different classroom.
A couple of the coaches talked about being there, being ready for when your time comes, and that really sunk in to me. Am I ready? I could have put my name in for the varsity position, but withdrew it because I could be able to coach my daughter one more time. After that, am I ready for that next step? Who knows? But one thing I am certain of, varsity or not, I’ll keep doing this. I cannot imagine not doing it!
As I close, that above quote, I sent that to our athletic director with my own thanks this morning. Being a jr. high coach, I don’t have to get up and speak! 🙂 However, she needed to know, again, what a great job she does, always! I sent a couple of other emails too, because too often, as with teachers, our coaches don’t hear about the good things they do, day in and day out. They’ve carved their names on countless hearts, and their legacy here will always be here as long as people remember they are Tigers at heart.
I’m not from here, didn’t grow up in this general area, so as families go, I’m a black sheep. But as I watched everyone interact, even this black sheep could realize just how special the night had become. It is a family affair, and even though our family is getting bigger next year, my hope is that our combined family is even more powerful: heart, mind, and soul!
May 9, 2013 at 7:04 am
Great post, Darin. I think those with bigger paychecks and no real ties forget that what seems so simple–whole grade sharing, closing a building–is a monumental shift for those who are there and have been there for a long time. It is not simple. It is not easy. Your banquet sounds like it was a great night to give some closure to coaches, athletes and families.
And keep coaching. It’s one more way to make an impact. Kids need you.
May 9, 2013 at 8:36 pm
That’s what so many forget, it’s just “whole grade sharing”, but it’s more then that, much more. We’ll see how this all turns out. For our kids, this “should” be a good thing if we can get past the slights, both actual and perceived. 🙂