It’s funny – you hear so much growing up about the influences a coach has on this player or that player and as a kid you wait for it. But it’s something that doesn’t appear right away. Not every coach instantly becomes ingrained in someones brain and heart. Sometimes it takes time, or perspective to understand the lessons being taught before they can be learned.
A huge influence in my life, on and off the playing field, has been my father. But as my soccer coach, he taught me invaluable lessons about being a leader and about seeing beyond the exterior of a person. The lesson that I have never forgot is the one of how to be a leader. It was a regular practice for our indoor soccer team on our way to an unbelievable season (we went 24-1-1 with a silver medal in the Provincial tournament), but during this early season practice one of my teammates was off fooling around by shooting baskets with the soccer ball (ironic isn’t?). As my dad walked over to issue the amount of laps he was going to have to run he also called me over and issued the same punishment.
I was confused and hurt but ran the laps regardless and finished our practice. On our way home, after my dad dropped off probably four of my teammates, I finally mustered the courage to question my father’s decision about making me run the laps for someone elses lack of focus. He looked at me and in that way that dad’s can speak to the soul of their child and said, “A captain is the leader of the team and is responsible for his teammates. You can’t just be the face of success without being responsible for every member of your team.”
Truer words have not been spoken. Leaders need to be willing to meet their teammates and help raise them to the level of play that is expected. Playmakers may need to make plays, but the greats will make sure that others around them are raised to that same level of play.
I have had the pleasure of being influenced by some amazing men and even more so in having been coached by or coached under – and I hope to speak more about these influences who have helped shape my vision.