Let's take a walk through a brand new day.
Lollygagging, Dilly Dallying and other Muses
I’m ready for spring! This winter took its toll on my family and friends. Influenza, pneumonia, cancer treatments, transplants, and even deaths encompassed the past few months. There were some really sad days for people who I love. But, as I heard about each of these unfortunate life events, I found that out of every sadness came joy and happiness. Funerals brought families together, cancer treatments reunited old friends, and severe cases of the flu had communities banding together in support of neighbors. Life is like that, isn’t it? Just as you think you can’t take one more dreary winter day, out pops a daffodil. What joy that simple little eruption from the earth can bring. A single yellow flower with green leaves can bring smiles, hope, and belief in happy days ahead.
This week, I attended a memorial service of a beloved football coach and teacher. Fittingly, the celebration of life was held in the high school gym of the school where he had spent 27 years of his career. The service was well attended by former players, coaches, teachers, friends, and family. He was such a positive person who never wavered from his beliefs and his love of young people. As friends and former players and coaches spoke in celebration of his life, I found myself jotting down some of the quotes and quips he used throughout his career and life.
Here’s one: “Excuses are the nails that built the house of failure”
If you have ever played sports or participated in competitive events of any kind, you probably heard something similar. Excuses are rarely tolerated in the sporting world just as they are rarely tolerated in the world of work. Neither is lollygagging and dilly dallying. (Those were two of Coach’s pet peeves.) My daughter was recently involved in preparing students for competitive events which required a great deal of preparation and practice. She got to hear some doozies as students shared why they weren’t prepared or why they hadn’t come to practice. Just like our beloved coach, she was having none of those excuses. With her guidance, the students tightened up, went to competition, did well, and hopefully learned a life lesson in the process.
Here’s another of Coach’s quotes: “Every time you point your finger at someone, remember that there are four fingers pointing right back at you.”
Try it. Raise your arm, extend it, and point your index finger at someone. The thumb curls back toward you, and the other three fingers automatically point back toward you. That’s some sage advice right there. He believed we should look at our own shortcomings before we begin pointing out the weaknesses of others. Coach followed this advice both on and off the field.
And then there is this gem: “When you make your footprint on life, what will you leave behind?”
Our coach also had a sense of humor. My favorite story of the day came from a former player who considered Coach to be his second dad. He knew Coach was a man of faith and knew his expectations were ‘high and tight’. He also knew that excuses fell on deaf ears. But, football practice in the deep south can be miserable on hot summer days when temperatures are well over 100 and humidity is at 100%. On this particular day, the sun was beating down and it was 110 degrees in the shade. The problem….there was no shade. So, Johnson, as the player was referred to, made a simple request. He said, “Coach, I know you’re tight with the man upstairs, so could you just get us a cloud?” Coach laughed and the players continued practice in the miserable summer heat. About 20 minutes later, one small little cloud appeared in the sky, hovered over the sun, and provided that much-needed shade. The whole team looked skyward, then looked over at Coach who smiled and said,”You’re welcome, Johnson”.
Coach touched so many lives with his wisdom, his faith, his kindness, his teaching, and his love. He embodied the statement that a good coach can change the outcome of a game but a great coach can change the outcome of a life. He helped many students and players make needed changes in their lives to become happy contributing adults. As an added bonus, the students always knew he cared…that he would be there for them. The former players, students, coaches, friends and family who attended his going home celebration were a testament to the lives that he changed. His football players bemoaned the fact that in all his years of coaching, he never won the much coveted State Championship title with his team. But they all agreed on one thing. He may not have won a state championship on the field, but he certainly won in the championship of life.
RIP Coach. The world is a better place because of your footprint. You left behind a legacy of abiding faith and unconditional love.