Aside from college, my time spent in youth athletics was the most formidable of my life. I used to spend hours in the backyard playing two-on-two or three-on-three tackle with other kids in the neighborhood while preparing for day one of pads to roll around. And was there anything better than the first practice of the season? New gear, new (but mostly old and familiar) teammates and coaches, and a brand new season to establish yourself as the baddest motherfucker in the league.
My love for the game drove me to continue the grueling process that is two-a-days throughout junior high, high school, and eventually college. I hated practices, but I loved the people I was practicing with; coaches and teammates alike. I became a man on the field and learned many basic tenants of life such as teamwork, responsibility, accountability, and how to take criticism (constructive or not). I learned how to win, and I learned how badly it sucked to lose. I learned how to dust myself off and I learned how to come back better than I was the day before. I owe a lot of that learning to the coaches that surrounded me from age 10 to my early 20s.
Even though my playing days are over, I still hear some of my best coaches’ messages on a day to day basis.
“Is that the best you got?!” as I debate submitting a half-assed update to my boss, or the occasional “Either you’re too damn stupid to learn how to do it right, or you just don’t give a shit. Which one is it? It doesn’t matter… neither work on this team” as I fumble my way through Salesforce reports. Or the “You knew you were the best, and God dammit, you just proved it” when my direct manager throws me a shout out across the department email chain.
How could I not reciprocate these lasting life impressions? At the end of the day, all that we leave behind is our legacy, and I would like to leave the kids that I coach lessons from football that they can apply to their later life. I encourage you all to do the same.
Ask yourself this: how many times a season (or a game) do you catch yourself yelling some nonsense at the TV about how “if I were the damn coach. I would do ______?” Well, here is your chance. Put your money where your mouth is and actually implement the asinine “no punt on 4th down” game plan that won you so many *NCAA Football (RIP)* championships back in the day.
I implore you; get your lazy ass off of the fucking couch and go coach some damn youth football.
First and foremost, a few things that I’ve learned about myself as a coach. I love winning. I think we all do. I knew that I loved winning back when I competed, and most of my girlfriend(s), ex or current, still think I take this whole “winning” thing a bit too far. But the passion never left. As you get older, things that you used to enjoy tend to stop being as enjoyable. Life becomes monotonous. Finding a way to keep your fire, through your job, hobbies, or otherwise, is imperative to keeping your sanity a few years out of college. I find that coaching and gambling and winning are three passions that will never go away for me.
I always think back to former Texas coach Darrell Royal’s quote “I learned this about coaching: You don’t have to explain victory, and you can’t explain defeat.” If you’re winning, you don’t have to explain shit to anyone about why you’re calling the plays that you do or running practices the way that you are. When you lose? Shit, no measure of explanation will calm down the trophy-hungry parents of this generation. Sometimes I think the parents want victory more than the kids. But guess what? So do I, and teaching these young kids that their love for winning and their love for the sport can be one in the same is the most rewarding endeavor I have embarked upon to this date.
Another awesome perk for coaching is that it looks great on a resume. Plan on looking for a job after college but haven’t done shit besides attend classes on a need-to-go basis? Yeah yeah, “Getting a job without having to apply because of who your dad knows. TFM…” But what happens if/when you fumble the initial two-three interview/chances handed to you from your pops or a buddy of his?
No, you aren’t about to land your dream job because of your back-to-back run in the U-14 youth football playoffs. However, it does show any company/potential boss that you’re willing to show commitment to something outside of yourself, you value the position and expectations of leading, and it’s an easy way to make up some fictitious anecdote about either leadership, overcoming obstacles, organization, etc.
Lastly, coaching is just fun as shit. Plain and simple. Do you like playing Madden? Because coaching is like playing real-life Madden (sans the requisite athleticism). Here’s a common misconception that I’m here to put to rest: Kids can’t pass and have to run that bullshit double-wing offense to move the ball down the field. That shit is completely false. Kids ages 12 and up have the ability to grasp a pretty complicated spread offense playbook in very little time. Sure, you’ll have your stragglers who never know what the hell they are supposed to do or where the hell they are supposed to be, but if you coach in a competitive league, their play time isn’t a requirement. Your job as a youth coach is to find the baddest dude on your team and feed him the ball until the other squad has no choice but to double team him everywhere he goes. If you have other semi-athletic kids on the team, it’s a wrap.
If you’re on the fence or have any interest in looking into coaching, I really encourage you and some of your boys to sign up and do it. Understand this: coaching is a time commitment, so if you’re not committed to it, don’t sign up. Kids need consistency, especially if you expect them to listen to the unsolicited “back when I used to play” glory day bullshit you will undoubtedly share. If you have the time, and I assume any college male not working a full time job does, you won’t be disappointed.
Do it for the kids. When left in the hands of their alcoholic, dip spitting fathers (aka most of us in 20 years), you end up having kids running plays out of the wishbone trying to understand the concept of a few yards and a cloud of dust all while their favorite NCAA/NFL stars are slinging the rock more than pre-famed Shawn Carter every Saturday and Sunday. You really do have a chance to make a positive impact on a kid’s life more than you know. You are awarded the feeling of a proud father watching his kids go on to high school and college ball without any of the burden of actually having to look after these kids. Plus, they connect with our younger generation and actually believe the shit you’re trying to coach.
Drop your questions down in the comments if you’re considering coaching. I’ll shoot you the good and bad of the gig. I will say the good will outweigh the bad in almost every coaching scenario. Also, drop your best, most profound “High School Football Coach Quotes” in the comments and we might come around to compiling the best ones..
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