When I did not get the opportunity I wanted to get at the school I am at I decided it was time for a break from coaching. That was back in early February of 2020. Some of you might think “Bro, you got out just before the thick of it” but for me, it’s been a year of looking at each of these situations and questioning “how would I have done that?”
Let’s go through a couple:
- Covid: I’m in Massachusetts and the MIAA – the state body on High School athletics – elected to have the football season in the spring rather than fall as they deemed the likelihood of transmission to be less in the spring season. While there have been plenty of cases in my area that have caused teams to have to quarantine – the school I’ve worked at has had two – the kids have had the opportunity to get games off. While that in and of itself is a success, I still have a lingering question of potential side effects that may be going unrecognized. Look to professional sports, for instance. In my area Cam Newton is the biggest example. He started off the year looking as if he was going to revitalize his career – Superman part 3. But he gets the rona, so to speak, and comes back and looks utterly gassed. The same can be said for someone like Jayson Taytum. I know he has been putting up numbers the last couple of games, but he himself has said that the effects of Covid stayed with him long after he returned to the court. If some of the greatest athletes in the world struggle to play when coming back, what is this doing to our kids? The bottom line is I don’t know if the people making the choices have enough information to utterly assure people that return to play is available.
- For the record, that’s all circumstantial and based off of what I personally have read.
- Race: I was glued to my TV in the summer of 2020. Our country is changing and beginning to deal with the systematic injustices the nation has in place. If I/We/Us are transfixed by the topic, our high schoolers, and in many cases kids younger than that, are as well. A good coach brings people together and sometimes you have to let your kids talk about what is happening in there lives for the team to move forward. Communication breeds change as it allows people to understand people. One thing I have done, and continue to do, in this brave new world, is continue to look for ways to give kids the opportunity to speak. From team meetings to working with their school communities, I’ve seen a lot of coaches do really interesting things.
- Program Building: This is one of the areas I have probably thought the most about in my hiatus. Sometimes coaches spend so much time thinking about what happens in the three hours they are outside they don’t account for the rest of the time in the day. The impact we have on these people goes back into their school, their community, and their home lives. If you aren’t taking all of that into consideration then you’re severely neglecting your role as a coach. In my eventually opportunity as an HC, academics – or making sure kids are in the best position to do what they want to do when they leave high school – will be one of the highest priorities for me. From study sessions and tutoring, there are plenty of ways to integrate importance of this area into the team identity. Another area that has become a dire need for me is to make sure the next people I guide will be leaders in the school community. Meaning, they take ownership of their environment, care for the people they encounter, and work to build a better place for the generations after them to take over. If people don’t like the people on your team, they aren’t going to buy-in for what you are trying to do for your school community.
There’s definitely more I can get into, but this is a good start for someone who has obviously been struggling with writing lately.