“No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people. Oftentimes, we have no clue. Yet we push it just the same.” – Jay Asher
I read an article recently about coaches writing letters to their players after they’ve completed their season. In these letters, they’d discuss things about the individual to whom the letter was written that they appreciated, were proud of and maybe something that went unaddressed during the season. I thought this idea was so cool. Unfortunately, I read it after the 2013 season ended. That team of young men would have been the perfect people for me to first address in this manner. Specifically, the group of outgoing seniors would have been ideal candidates for this exercise. This is not to diminish the efforts of my previous classes. They were all truly significant in their own ways, and I could write a ridiculous amount of words for each. There was just something distinct about this group.
Our 2013 baseball team exhibited all the intangible things that we, as coaches, constantly harp on; resiliency, perseverance, hard work, determination. But, to me, it was the little things: they showed up early to practice or to help with field duties without being asked. They worked on the field on Sunday evenings (on their time) to get it ready for Monday. They slopped around in mud and puddles because they wanted to play so badly. They set a level of expectation for the younger members without me having to ask them to exhibit that leadership. They achieved things that hadn’t been accomplished in years. They were never beaten before they got off the bus.
One of the things I appreciate the most is the level of understanding and care that they reciprocated. They appreciated the time that I put in and knew that it was difficult at times for me knowing I had a young son at home that I missed dearly. They never took that for granted, and that means the world to me.
When we lost in the district tournament to end the season, I saw these guys bawl their eyes out, and it was for multiple reasons. They were upset at the loss. They were upset that they had played their last high school baseball game. They were disappointed, and rightfully so. In talking with a couple of these guys, it became apparent that they wanted this win for their team, their school, and for me. For me? Do you know how insanely proud that statement made me? That alone made it all worth it. Win or lose, the outcome was irrelevant. That made every bit of it worth it.
So, to those guys, I say this: I am and will always be extremely thankful for your contributions and the relationships we developed. They mean the world to me, and they won’t soon be forgotten.
The takeaway from this is that we may not fully comprehend the impact we have on the people we lead, good or bad. I’m sure I’ve left some negative impressions on some kids, and that is upsetting. I can only work to be better. But, one of the most fulfilling things that can happen in this line of work is realizing that what you do has a lasting and meaningful impact on someone.
Make it count.
Have an awesome Thursday,