When I was growing up, I loved to play any type of game. Board games, card games, hide n seek, and video games although, the Atari system had just come out when I was heading into junior high school and by then, I was already someone who was not keen on sitting in front of a TV and playing games. Baseball and bowling were 2 games that I enjoyed and that I found that I could do well enough to be successful. I had some friends who would give me a call and ask me to join them at the baseball field to practice some hitting and fielding and I do not recall a time that when they asked, I said “No”. Since I was able to practice playing baseball throughout the summer months and I was able to bowl during the winter months, I became very good at both sports and found that I could be competitive in both. This was a blessing and a curse. My focus became so much concentrated on beating someone else during a competition that I lost the idea that I was playing a sport and that playing the sport was supposed to be teaching me life lessons and were meant to be fun. I pushed myself harder and harder in order to “win” any competition that I was fortunate enough to be in that I did not realize what I was losing was the main reason for competing; I was there to make myself better, challenge other competitors and share in the emotions of athletic competition.
High School and College Sports:
I was fortunate enough to play competitive baseball throughout high school and even went on to be on my college baseball team for one year before a shoulder injury ended my competitive baseball playing days. I was also blessed to be able to compete on my high school and college bowling teams. Again, the level of competition was exhilarating for me and I pushed myself harder and harder to be better than the “other guy”. I found myself becoming more and more frustrated with my inability to “win” every frame or inning that I was involved in. I became more focused on my stats and winning that I started to lose a passion for being in sports and I believe that I became depressed by not knowing why I was not good enough to win and I was no longer having fun!
Coaching, the Early Years:
When I took the head coaching reigns of a youth football team at the age of 23, I was all about seeing how good the players could be and about how the team could be better than any opponent that we faced. I slowly started to discover that this attitude was weighing more and more heavily on me and that I was beginning to push players more than I would have wanted to be pushed. I needed a reset and a rethinking of my approach to how I was coaching the players on the team and I found that approach as I started to read more about coaching young athletes and I even went so far as attending a Professional football camp in Pennsylvania which was geared towards youth and high school football coaches. The camp was put on by respected members of the professional football community and there were workshops from career military personnel as well as championship winning players and coaches at all levels of football. The camp helped me to refocus my mindset and to better understand what the young athlete needs in order to be successful, guidance, overcoming personal challenges and coaching leadership. The camp also shed some light on the importance of the lessons learned on the field of play that are going to benefit young men and women in and out of the competitive arena. I took to heart the lesson about sports offering an opportunity for personal growth. I learned that personal growth can come about through recognizing your own strength and using that strength to overcome some barrier to your success. Your success usually does not mean winning a game! It usually means confronting some fear or obstacle that you do not believe that you can face and doing something based on your own skills and desires to put that fear or obstacle in your rear-view mirror. It was through these lessons learned that I changed my approach to coaching and began to focus on life lessons that can come from being competitive in sports especially, team sports where you must have trust, camaraderie, personal goals and team play in order to be successful.