Real Rewards of Coaching

vern_johnAs a young coach I knew there was more out there but I was not 100% sure what it was. It was the human element, the emotional intelligence piece, appreciating people and what they offer beyond their athletic skills. I must admit I took that for granted. I was into training, the X’s and O’s of coaching. I was focused on designing better workouts and refining technique. There were championships, big wins and some disappointing loses. As I progressed in my coaching career and climbed the ladder so to speak I saw there was more to it. I gained a balance, a perspective. I realized that that yes the X’s and O’s were still important but it was the people I was coaching, the relationships, the satisfaction of seeing young boys and girls grow into responsible adults and move on with their lives outside of sport.

Monday night I had dinner in Fort Collins with John Rosecrance, one of my former athletes I had not seen for 35 years. John was part of an amazing group of young athletes I coached at Santa Barbara High School from 1975 through 1978. They were amazing because of their athletic accomplishments, but more amazing was their focus and dedication, the togetherness and team unity, the willing to help each other be better. John epitomized what this group was about. He was not especially athletically gifted but he worked hard to get better and maximize his skills, eventually making CIF Finals in the pole vault his senior year. Visiting with John brought back many fond memories of those days. It made me regret that I did not take more time to smell the roses and appreciate those kids for what they were. During our visit we barely talked about track. We talked about the progress of his career and what he had done in the last 35 years. He is still competing in bike races and for a time was doing triathlons and even ran several marathons, this from a guy that I had to cajole in doing cross-country. He has his PHD and is a professor at Colorado Sate University in Fort Collins. Visiting with John reminded of the real rewards of coaching – the people and relationships that endure after the championship trophies tarnish and the medals are stored in a drawer somewhere.

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