Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Thank you, Coach!

In honor of Father’s Day this coming weekend, I think it’s important to recognize the unique and difficult role played by fathers. For me, this role is one that I can sum up in one word:  coach. To some, that may sound cold, calculated even. But, to me, it’s far deeper than that. In my world, coaches play a vital role in confidence building, teaching life lessons, and molding a person. I've had great coaches (my dad being the best and the most influential), and I've had some not-so-great ones. I know the impact they can have on a kid's life. 

Sports played a huge role in my life, and my father was, in fact, my first coach. He’s the one who taught me to shoot and dribble a basketball at the age of 4, swing a bat, throw a football, and hit a volleyball. Similarly, he was the one who painstakingly and patiently tried to teach his impatient daughter how to fish and how to play golf (both of which ended in frustration on my part). He was the one who took a great deal of time to learn the techniques to teach me how to pitch a softball. From paying for camps every summer to making endless purchases for ankle braces, shoes, equipment, and anything I needed, to talking me through the good games and the bad, he was always there.

Regardless of my interests, he took the time to learn if he didn’t already know. And, for those sports and subjects he already knew, he took the time to teach me and to help me grow—as an athlete and as a person. We bonded many times over weight lifting, game film watching, and even simple things like basketball shoe shopping.

During my childhood and teen years, this was a huge part of who I was, and I found my identity in sports. As I’ve grown up, I have developed a variety of new interests, but his steadfast support, encouragement, coaching, and love has never faded. He is still the first to volunteer to read something I’ve written, remind me that’s what I was made to do, and shamelessly promote anything that I release. He's always willing to listen to my professional accomplishments, offer feedback, and coach me through those situations. 

He remains my coach. He remains the one who reminds me to pray, have faith, work hard, set goals, and to take risks. Importantly, as he always did, he finds a way to offer life advice that sticks with me through the years and through the situations. Always the coach, he once reminded me that you have to “finish the season.” Coming from my background in sports, this lesson was put into terms easy for me to understand. We all have difficult times (just as you have losing seasons, teams that can’t quite get it together, or a coach who has given up on a team), and you must press through. You must finish the season with the hopes that the next will be brighter. It's the lessons like this one that play in my head and offer me a pep talk on bad days.

For years, he has been my example of strength, unwavering optimism, and independence. From a young age, he taught me the importance of hard work and working until a job is done. It is him I credit with my work ethic, my stubborn determination to see a job to completion, no matter how many hours I have to put in or how hard it may get. You see, not only is he the one who taught me to push through the pain, but he is also the one who taught me to not be afraid to fail.

Case in point:  I distinctly remember a time when I was about fifteen years old, and we were remodeling parts of our house. I was home during the summer days and was his helping hand with the projects. One day, I slept a little late and missed talking to him about the day’s plans before he left for work. I called his cell phone to ask him what I needed to do, and he very calmly told me to start on the ceiling. THE CEILING! Like it was no big thing for a teenager with little experience to cut a hole in his ceiling and get to work. I remember questioning him, only to have him tell me, “just go for it. If you mess it up, we’ll fix it tonight.”

That’s my dad. He’s the one who can find a solution when there seems to be none. He’s the one who encourages his children to take risks, to move forward toward personal growth and progress, the one who will unwaveringly love and offer support. Every accomplishment, every milestone, he's been by my side! 

Just as he was "coach" to us, I'm grateful that he has the opportunity to continue that legacy for another generation!

He is my coach, and I could not be more grateful to have such a strong example in my life. I know that he has been a coach to many, and has always been giving of his time—not only to my siblings and me, but to kids across generations and communities. He is a man of integrity, loyalty, strength, perseverance, faith, and great mercy. He is a man who believes in teaching, making a lasting impact, and helping grow people.

Happy Father’s Day, and thank you for everything, coach! I love you! 

Truth! The man is, and will always be, my hero!

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