One of the most rewarding things about coaching has been the relationships I’ve built with two former students.
Heather (class of 2010) played for me for 3 years and was the inaugural class of “the program.” Her hard work and dedication laid the foundation for the success we still have today. Since her 8th grade year, we are 70-18. 3 of those 4 seasons have involved her as a player or coach.
Compared to John, Heather is quiet and reserved. But make no mistake about her dedication and passion for seeing these girls be successful. I get ideas at 10 at night, motivational quotes, and a reliable coach that gets on the floor and pushes players – physically and metaphorically – to become stronger. Her example of just being here is inspiring; but the way she involves herself is what really moves this program. We simply could not be this successful without her. Nor would it be as enjoyable without her presence. She reminds me why I do this, and how far we’ve all come.
John is entirely different. A graduate of Lakeview back in 2007, he wandered back into the gym during his junior year of high school. Having a free period at the high school, he stopped by to say hello, like many students do. But he’s never left.
John has been an inseparable part of this program for the last 4 years. Like Heather, I cannot imagine this program or its success without him. He is a big brother to our players and a friend to me. Once my “protege,” John is now a colleague. His professionalism and passion is remarkable; many adult coaches fail to meet the standard he sets.
Most importantly, John doesn’t loose sight of what is important. His love for seeing these girls – and now boys – mature is impressive. They trust him with their concerns and frustrations; parents trust him as they would a staff member. You aren’t just given that kind of trust, but you earn it.
John has earned the trust through me, but also through his reliability and intelligence. He has hardly missed a practice, attending and planning summer training sessions with me, coaching camps and clinics, interacting with high school and collegiate coaches, and even driving down from college twice a week to help coach. It’s a remarkable sign if commitment that I’m so proud to see develop. Strategically, his basketball mind is top notch – always giving good advice and seeing things I don’t always see.
Other coaches have helped develop these girls, too. But there’s something special about education coming full circle. About seeing seeds you planted grow to fruition. I can see that in a season with a team, but the longevity of life lessons and a passion for teaching is even greater. Other former players get involved, too. Maura, Jamei and Bridget have all helped me at some point; dozens of others show up to help and to share advice. I’m so fortunate to be surrounded by these kids as they became adults. I can see some of myself in them, I learn from them… But more importantly, I’m reminded what’s so special about this learning and teaching thing. My former players and students have simply been the best supporters and purveyors of what I try to do through this program. I cannot thank them enough.