I really enjoy watching a coach in action. I cannot think of any profession with opportunities to impact young people’s lives in a positive manner any more than coaches. I know there are many professions with abilities to influence people, but I am biased to coaches.
As I was driving down I-35 a couple weeks ago, I noticed football players practicing. This was a small school district but since I was recruiting, I thought I would stop and watch practice. What a joy it was to watch a young, vibrant head coach with his players at Troy High School. Players were attentive to every word Coach Ronnie Porter said. Everyone was in unity and intensity filled everyone’s thoughts.
I have heard it said, if somebody gets a foot in the door with young people, they will have cleats on. Having served as a college and high school football coach for many years, I can attest to influencing players’ thoughts.
In a contest many years ago, our team was being defeated 34-7 at the end of the third quarter. As I was talking to the offense on the sideline, my quarterback, Shawn Meadows, asked if we could pray. I could not think of a better time. As we were praying, our opponents fumbled the ball. We immediately scored. After kicking off and a few plays later, our opponents fumbled again. It was an awesome comeback. When the game ended, we had scored 35 points in the final 17 minutes to win the game 42-34.
Shawn Meadows of Garden City, Kansas, is now a successful high school coach in Arlington. I am sure his players feel secure enough to pray when they desire. I am sure his players are influenced by his example and leadership. I am thankful he felt secure enough to ask if we could pray. Praying does not guarantee victory, but it unifies people.
A few years ago, I met a coach who had previously coached at Troy University. My former bosses’ brother was Provost at Troy University and we visited about him. As I visited with Coach Chan Gailey, I could see his enthusiasm for coaching young people.
Coach Gailey was a successful high school player in Georgia. He had been a successful college coach at Air Force, Georgia Tech and Troy University. He continued his success in the NFL as head coach for Dallas and Buffalo.
I asked Coach Gailey, as we were eating at Mel’s Hamburger Restaurant in Copperas Cove, what influenced him to have such great success as a coach. I was expecting him to tell me about great coaches he had been around, or great players he coached. He gave credit to his parents and Jesus Christ. I later saw an article where his was quoted saying, “I stand before you today, not as a coach who professes Christianity, but as a Christian who happens to coach for a living.”
I can only imagine how many players and coaches have been influenced by Coach Gailey. My father-in-law, the Rev. R.B. Shoemaker, said our professions are a gift from God, and it is the way we use God’s gift that is important. He said a coach will influence more people in a week than he could in a year.
Thought for the week, “To believe in something and not live it is dishonest.”
Dr. Jack Welch is a college football coach. He holds a Doctor of Education degree and has been a college and high school football coach for 39 years. He is author of “Foundations of Coaching” (2020) and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.