To the coaches – good job

By: Jim Linsdau of The News Messenger/Placer Herald
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For the Rocklin and Lincoln schools there was a lot of success this season. A number of league championships and even a couple of section titles, and to the coaches I say – good job.

However, for all that success I never had one coach give me the impression it had much to do with him or her; it was the team. As one would expect, when there was failure the coach took the blame and when there was triumph the coach gave all the credit to the student-athletes.

From Lincoln High School through Rocklin, Whitney and Western Sierra Collegiate Academy and even the schools they oppose, I cannot say I found a single coach that did not know what he or she was doing. They were experienced, solid in the fundamentals of the game and knew what it would take to get the most out of their players.

High school sports is a program; talent comes in and talent departs. The coach either smiles in anticipation of what is to come or is seen weeping at graduation. It’s either, “This is going to be a great year,” or “Boy, we have got some work to do.” Regardless, it will be another season of a few disappointments and a number of terrific surprises.

But almost every coach I had the pleasure to work with all had pretty much the same message; they were working to build boys and girls into young men and women. And if that meant taking it on the chin much of the time, so be it.

Yes, winning is important if a coach wants to keep coaching. But schools differ, offseason programs are not equal and the support can be fickle. Some years just do not turn out to be winners.

But it is those lean years that often reveal a coach’s true character. It takes a deep and passionate commitment to keep one’s athletes at their best when the odds are stacked heavily against them.

It has often been said that it is not whether one wins or loses, but how one plays the game that counts. It is not easy to convey that message to a group of teenagers who just got their backsides handed to them; that is when a coach has to go deep.

Yet, I have never met an athlete who looked back and said they wished they had never tried out for their sport. It never ceases to amaze me how many tell me it was the experience and the camaraderie they will remember the most.

Winning a championship does soften the blow, but the tears still flow when players realize it is the last high school game the seniors will ever play. Thoughts then turn to the future and that is where the real coaching comes in.

Those who coach sports know the games are but a short stretch on the road that lies ahead for each student-athlete. They know what it is like to walk off that field for the last time.

So, to those teenagers uncertain about life, I say join one of your school’s sports teams. Even if it means sitting on the bench for awhile, because chances are that’s where the coach started.