I had lunch yesterday with an old friend. Actually I call him “coach.” CG was my coach 20 plus years ago when I was still young and durable. We met for lunch at The Pizza House just down the street from CG’s Auto Body Shop. It was a good lunch just talking about old times, guys I grew-up with, what my family is up to, and his. CG coached Worthington Lacrosse for a number of years winning numerous state titles during his tenure. Winning records are a good thing, however the real test of coaching is in the lives a coach touches. I can’t speak for the experience of everyone, but I can honestly tell you, this coach, CG, made my life better.
I learned more from CG than a person could write in a single blog post. I’ll try to sum it up quickly. From CG I learned how to work. He always told us to “bring our lunch pail because we were blue-collar.” His teams would out work, out compete, and literally out tough the competition. He would run us until we didn’t think anymore running was possible, and then, he would run us some more. I will always picture him sitting in the back of his Ford Bronco screaming “FINISH” as we struggled up the hill from the bike path to Dow Nelson Field after another run around the lake. From CG I learned how to lead and to really work hard. These aren’t easy traits to learn growing up spoiled in Worthington, Ohio. (My wife, who grew-up on a pig farm gets a kick out of my “we were blue-collar” talk…) From CG I learned that you have to “shoot to get hot and shoot to stay hot.” I learned that you can’t be a “bubble man” and be successful, you have to attack the cage. From CG I learned to give back to the game that has given so much to us.
Not only did CG teach me how to work, he changed my life. I can picture it like yesterday. I was a junior in high school and was on a Worthington yellow school bus sitting in Hudson, Ohio. CG sat down next to me and we were discussing the end of the season and my summer plans. At the time I confided in CG that I planned to not play football my senior year and concentrate on becoming a better lacrosse player. He listened without speaking, he talked to me about drills I could work on, and then without much warning, he counseled me to play football. I don’t remember exactly what he told me, but come August I was on the football field. Football became my ticket to college where I would play for four years, meet my future wife on day one of college, and literally set the direction of my life. My dad had told me to play football, but I listened to CG. I’ll forever be in his debt for steering me in the right direction.
As the Assistant Superintendent in Worthington supervision of the Co-Curricular (Athletic) programs falls to my office. It is something we value greatly in Worthington. Sports teach important life lessons and students need to be involved in something positive. This year we had teams see amazing success and others struggle. Sometimes sports brings out the best in people, other times, the worst. Certainly it is highly emotionally charged. However, sports are important. I don’t personally think they are important for winning or losing. (I’d rather we win obviously and strive for excellence in everything we do.) But sports, when done right, provide people learning experiences like I had so many years ago. In Worthington we have many great coaches who go above and beyond to help athletes succeed on and off the field. Our coaches are difference makers.
I’m fond of saying that “time always tells the story.” Time has told my story and CG’s from my perspective. I played lacrosse for CG over 20 years ago. Yet I have a fondness for him that time will never diminish. That’s the impact of a great coach. A difference maker!