It is not often that one gets the chance to share what they have learned during their life that has helped to make them who they are. My journey through life has offered some incredible moments and connected me with people who have made this journey a constant growth opportunity filled with smiles, laughs, tears, pain, suffering and the discovery of what makes me strong.
My story begins in the city of Pittsburgh, PA on a Saturday night in June of 1966. The location of my birth has played a significant role in defining me and the principles that I live my life by. It has also brought me to a place in my life that sees nature through the eyes of someone who enjoys all 4 seasons and respects all that nature has to offer. Western Pennsylvania presents a pure part of the U.S. that offers up opportunities to marvel at the beauty of nature as well as the entertainment aspects of city life. It is where I spent the first 18 years of my life and where I can proudly say that I will forever have my roots.
Now that the foundation has been laid out for this first blog post, let me move on to the first lesson of this blog: life lessons sometimes happen in the oddest ways! As the second child and only son in a family of five, I felt as though I was dealt a bad hand from the get go. I seemed to feel as though I didn’t have someone there to guide me when I needed guidance. Lesson number 1 for me was: you are able to find what you need, when you need it, if you are willing to do the work to seek it out! I am going to be honest about this one as it took me a long time to figure out that help is not only found by turning towards your family, it is also found by seeking it in your community of friends and mentors/coaches.
Playing football in Western PA was something that every able bodied male in nearly every family did during the time that I grew up and as far as I know, remains so today. Loving sports as a child, I decided to play football at the ripe old age of 8! I strapped on my helmet, walked to practice and worked with as little effort as possible to play the game of football. I was not aggressive and I was not talented in the skills that were needed to play football well, i.e. strength, speed, and agility. That was 2 strikes against me and the third was that I loved the game of baseball and was only playing football because all of my friends were. I didn’t play much and watched closely as the other boys played and I paid particularly close attention to how the coaches were talking with the players and with each other. What I realized years after I was done playing football was that I learned how to teach the players how to play together. I learned how to be a coach during my playing days! I understood that I wasn’t so much interested in playing the game as I was about communicating with the players and planning for what the offense and defense were going to do during each play.
Reflecting back on that experience, I realize that my coaches probably knew that I would not be playing football beyond the youth league and they wanted me to have a positive experience. They helped to make my experience memorable and after more than 30 years of coaching that is what I try to bring to the players that I coach. I still feel a desire inside of me to see the players make progress and grow as individuals while learning about teamwork. I have been told that I still have passion in my eyes when I am on the sideline of a game that I am coaching in and while I don’t get to see that passion, I feel it!
Ask for what it is that you need to learn or experience because the worst thing that can happen if you ask, someone says “No!”
“Ask for help not because you are weak, but because you want to remain strong.”Les Brown