Men and women who assume the role of a coach play a defining role in the lives of young people. Many of us can point to someone that we called “coach” who was instrumental in molding and shaping our lives.
I grew up like most kids playing sports. All of us can remember our very first coach. There are some things that you never forget. My first coach was Mr. William Bryant but we called him Coach Bryant. He was my baseball coach and our team was called the Skyland Blue Jays.
Coach Bryant gave us our instructions and showed us what to do. Of course, we listened and did as we were told. None of us talked back to our coach nor did our parents ask him about our playing time.
Upon reflection now, Coach Bryant was also a life coach. He asked us how our grades were and if we were excited to return to school in the fall. He talked with us about having goals and dreams. He was always pleasant but he was also keenly interested in us as boys. He was much more than a coach.
Coaches have always played an important role in our society. They have served as role models and mentors for us. The title “coach” is one that you hear a lot but should not be taken lightly. Those who wear it understand the awesome responsibility that they have.
Students depend upon coaches not only for sports instruction but for social instruction as well. I can recall many years ago when my sons, Aaron and Chris, would come home and tell me what the coach said. What the coach said was the gold standard and had to be followed. My sons had men who wore the title coach well and they were both influenced positively by them.
I grew up in Winston-Salem, N.C., during the 1960s and sports was always the talk of the town. For example, the upcoming CIAA basketball tournament to be held later this month had its early beginnings in my hometown. You know what it has become now. My friends and I saw Clarence “Big House” Gaines a lot as he lived around the corner from us. What we soon found out was that Coach Gaines was the basketball coach at Winston-Salem Teachers College now Winston-Salem State University. His wife, Mrs. Clara Gaines, taught me Latin in high school.
Coach Gaines was a legend who coached Earl “The Pearl” Monroe and received many national honors along with winning championships. He was quite influential in our lives as he provided us with much needed guidance and direction. I felt the gravity of his mentorship as I later became a tennis coach at both the high school and college level.
Dean Smith, the iconic basketball coach at the University of North Carolina, passed away recently and the comments about his character and his love for his players came from all across America. I was privileged to have taken a picture with him many years ago now. Hubert Davis, a son of one of my college classmates, was one of his players.
Our children and grandchildren have every confidence in their coaches. If you want to enter the coaching ranks know that you will be held to the highest of standards. It is a privilege to be called coach. Wear the title with dignity and honor.
Let it be said about you that you fostered in young people high ideals and lofty goals.