I’m convinced after 39 years of coaching at the youth and high school level that very few people have a clue, or a true understanding of what Coaches really do! Over the next few weeks I’m going to invite you into my world and give you a little peak at the value of coaches in our communities and schools.
Let me start with “the grind is real.” On any given day or evening, the media industry reminds us about how cruel life can be, especially for our youth. At times one can’t help to think specific zip codes are cursed with violence, and the hip-hop mantra “it’s all good in the hood” is a vicious and deliberate lie. The inner-city can be a place of unforgivable circumstances at times with more losses than victories. My work with communities of challenges involves getting some of the most suspicious and deprived students in urban America going in the right direction. How many times have you heard someone say the problem with today’s generation is they lack motivation, indeed if it was only that simple? The truth is if they require anything its accessibility, to just about everything, including but not limited to fair housing, food, clean air, employment, quality education, the barriers are many and those equipped to help navigate them are few.
Sometimes I think to myself how Coaching athletics must be re-defined beyond the general definition as a person who coaches or who gives instructions related to athletics. A sports coach in today society coaches beyond the courts or playing fields. The job description for an athletic coach reads more like that of a therapist, or a master life coach. We wear many hats, especially that of a priest. Why, well at times our student-athletes share some of their deepest secrets with their coaches with the caveat “coach you can’t tell my parents or anyone with what I’m about to tell you.”
For those whoever watch a T.V. documentary related to inner city life struggles, schools or athletes such as: ‘Inner City Sailing’, “Run free”, “Coach Carter”, Friday night lights”, “Undefeated”, Northside Pride “, “B.E. the Change”, “The year of the bulls”, “We believe in us”, “STEP”,” VICE Sports; Miami Youth football”,” Last Chance U”, “Little Tykes”, “Carter High”, the list is endless, people are genuinely aware that coaches in some cases are in the middle a perpetual war- zones, crisis, and hopelessness. All this to the backdrop of seemingly a never-ending cycle of poverty.
In many cases, unseen to the trained eye, our youth, and their families suffer from levels of anxieties, depressions, and worst PTSD. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, or dangerous event. It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. For many of our students, this is a daily reoccurring event; it’s the real reason why many of our student-athletes act out unannounced.
Coaches like therapist are asked to expect too provide diagnosis indirectly, and prognosis for our student-athletes personal being and life issues, believe me when I say its taxing with a real price to pay. Coaches often pay with their health. So why do we do it, why do we stay on the hamster wheel? The answer is as simplistic as it is complicated. Coaches are about the life-changing and the business of saving lives. Coaches beyond their ability to explain X’s and O’s, are known for their words of wisdom, daily advise, and skills to rebuild, and repair brokenness. Words of encouragement from coaches often serve as healing bandages, and they give our students a sense of purpose, optimism, and direction. They provide a roadmap to success amid struggle. Look around, ask the questions, and very few people have the answers for students and families asking what classes I should take? Which one is more important the ACT or SAT? Is there any assistance to help me pay for them? How can I earn a scholarship? Do I get to keep my Pell grant and many other questions?
Stayed tuned for Part 2