I am convinced that some of the most unsung heroes in our schools are our coaches. They not only teach students inside of classrooms; they teach them outside of classrooms.
Those same coaches take the blame when teams do not win or compete as they are expected to. They deflect credit when teams win.
But they always talk about “team.” They use collective pronouns – “we,” “us,” “our.”
And they motivate preparing students not only physically, but mentally, emotionally, and in many cases spiritually.
It happened today. Our girls soccer team was displaced from their home field in a state semifinal game in the state playoffs. Weather canceled two previous scheduled games and field conditions dictated that we go play on a neutral field fifty miles away against a very good team on a different turf.
What does a good coach do? Finds a way to motivate players and keep players focused on the task at hand. That coach finds the obstacles, removes them, and then tells the players to execute. He gets them time on a different surface. He keeps them focused when delays occur. He puts the team in situations where they can learn and prosper.
Sometimes he gets a guest speaker to help motivate them.
So in steps the football coach, a colloquial master who understands that words placed at the right time can be heard for a long time afterwards.
He tells the ladies that it’s about “111.”
“Think about it. 111.”
“It’s 111 miles from here to Raleigh.” Raleigh is the final goal. It’s where one plays for the state championship.
If they take care of the business at hand, then they get to travel that 111 miles to play for a ring. No need to be on the home field. The field they were to play on was the same dimensions as the home field with “two small goals on each end.”
“You just got to put the ball in their goal more times.” 11 girls on the field at a time working for just 1 more goal than the other.
Then 111 miles.
And so after a regulation game, two overtime periods, “sudden death,” and penalty kicks these young ladies get to go to Raleigh.
To be accurate, that’s 2 forty-minute halves, 2 ten-minute overtime periods, 2 five-minute sudden death periods, and a non-timed penalty kick session. Let’ call that penalty kick session the last minute.
40+40+10+10+5+5+1 = 111 minutes
Miles from Clemmons to Raleigh = 111
Players on the field at one time = 11 working as 1
In that crowd were the head coaches and assistant coaches of at least 6 different sports to support those ladies. If numbers serve correct, approximately 10% of the teaching faculty was at that game on a night before exams started.
And they would have stayed for another 111 minutes if needed.
I wish some lawmakers in Raleigh could have seen that before they started measuring how good public schools are in their eyes.
But there is one measurement I can surely tell folks in Raleigh is hard and true.