Despite sitting at one of those back-bending cafeteria tables, I found myself completed enthralled listening to a coach talk about his athletes this week. He spoke with such heart about the journey the team took together to win the state championship. He talked about each athlete’s strengths and contributions to the team. He talked about the absolute commitment that these fierce young women made to each other and to their goal. I was reminded of the power, that we all have, to make a lasting impact on other people’s lives. We just need to remember what the best coaches know.
The best coaches (and I would argue the best leaders, the best bosses, the best teachers and the best parents) know that people will do anything for love- love for the team, love for the game, love for each other. Athletes will get up at the crack of dawn. They will practice for hours on end. They will fail more often than they succeed and yet not give up. They will smile even when it hurts. They will lift each other up and dust each other off. They will test their physical and emotional limits knowing there is a wall of strength behind them. The best coaches know everyone counts and everyone contributes. The best coaches know that every single person plays a role. The best coaches know that believing is seeing. The best coaches know that the sweetest victories are the ones hard-fought by athletes who refuse to surrender. The best coaches know that everyone wants to be a part of something bigger than themselves. The best coaches know that you only grow when you are challenged. The best coaches know that steel is made with fire and diamonds under pressure, but both need to be polished.
I took this photograph last fall. I had been watching a flock of Great Blue Heron nesting on the Everett waterfront through the summer. The fledglings were grown and learning to hunt in the tide off shore. The older bird in front seemed to be showing the younger ones what to do, just like a good coach.
(1/125 sec., f/6.3, 600 mm)
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