(Door slamming on its hinges) “All eyes on me!” I started, “ladies we will be successful this year if we can focus on three things, and three things only….”
This could have been the start to any pre-game pep talk or pre-season chalk talk, it just happens to be one of my favorites that came from Coach Jim Valvano and ends with Coach flubbing his lines and ending with the “Green Bay Packers” which in itself is not bad but he was coaching the Rutgers Basketball Team at the time. As a coach, you find yourself collecting hundreds of these stories. Most of us on the Charger staff have pockets of sport coats and pants with various topics stuff with these gems of knowledge. We look to motivate our team or maybe teach a life lesson or both. Many times both.
Today I find myself reminiscing. The season ended weeks ago but I still find a void. An ache….for my girls. I admit, I miss them. Every dysfunctional (ha ha) one of them. They are each special in their own way. All the different personalities, motivations and senses of humor. Over the course of four months you get to know them, care for them, love them. We become a family as much as a team and we have to learn to trust each other, push each other, trust each other. We share a common faith and deep inside our Christ centered team we learn to forgive, to help, to reach and to guide. I miss the lessons, both from us coaches and from the players, the laughter, the goals and the accomplishments. Six days a week they became my other family, or better, additions to my family and Mrs. Princing becomes a team mom too.
Yesterday we held our end of season banquet. One big room full of family, coaches and players. Once again we are all together. We discuss the team/family, we discuss the season, we thank our wives for letting us play basketball coach, we take the time to thank the parents for allowing us into their child’s life. I’m not sure that is enough.
To my girls. Most of you will never see this, but it should be said, your impact on our lives as coaches is Huge. You wiggle your way into our hearts and stake a hold. You test our patience, you make us laugh and give us your heart on the court and in practice. Some we reach on a deeper level. After the season, we watch what you do from afar making sure you are ok. We will show up to soccer games, softball games, track meets and such, not because we are big sports fans, but to see you and your family. We go to plays and music concerts, not because we are big arts fans, but to see you and your family. One more smile, one more laugh is the fuel that keeps us going, to pick up the whistle again and teach the game, teach life, share our Faith and make a difference, hopefully in a child’s life.
So as I quietly read the notes in the card from my girls last night, I file them all in their spot in my heart and I place the card with the team picture on the mantle above the fireplace. That is where it belongs, with the other pictures of my family.