Forgive a former player’s adoration for his high school football coach, but not all coaches are as deserving of appreciation as you. Thank you for your 24 years of dedicated service to teaching and coaching in Newberry County.
I was a good student. I was a good trumpet player, but I certainly was not a good athlete. You coached me regardless and offered an undersized kid a chance to play football. You instilled values of hard work, humility, and leading by example. Eventually, your coaching turned me into a starting, “ankle-biting” tight end. For developing character, camaraderie, and physical readiness, I cannot thank you enough.
More important than developing 40-yard dash times, you developed leadership ability in your players. You pushed ownership of the team to the player level, and allowed us the space to lead and challenge each other. It was on us to determine what kind of team we wanted to be: a team dedicated year-round to improving, or one more interested in how our jerseys looked on Friday nights. Ultimately, your coaching turned a young boy more comfortable taking a test into a team captain. For instilling leadership, I cannot thank you enough.
Despite going 1-4 during the first five games of my senior year, you coached our team to a 4-1 record during region play and led the Rebel football program to our first playoff game in over a decade. We finished the season with a 5-6 record after losing that playoff game, another Rebel losing season. But I learned more from that season and the losses than I did from any win. We learned that the will to prepare is more important than the will to win, and when life hits you in the mouth, you get back up again. For teaching the value of winning and of losing, I cannot thank you enough.
Perhaps there were not many playoff runs. Perhaps not every one of your players played at the collegiate level. That’s no matter. The critics are always quick to point out the errors of the man in the arena. More important than a high school coach’s win-loss record is what kind of role model that coach is, and in this regard, your trophy case is brimming. Your impact has gone far beyond the football field, and influenced hundreds of young men. In one small case, the man you helped shape went on to graduate law school, to commission as a U.S. Marine Officer, and still reminisces with friends on the good times that the football team shared. As it turns out, those are better memories than winning high school football games.
Any time I saw you after graduation, you went out of your way to talk to me and wish me the best for the future. You are a coach that did not forget me as a former player.
And I have not forgotten the best coach I ever had either.
Mid-Carolina High, Class of 2008