Real Rewards of Coaching
As a young coach I knew there was more out there but I was not 100% sure what it was. It was the human element, the emotional intelligence piece, appreciating people and what they offer beyond their athletic skills. I must admit I took that for granted. I was into training, the X’s and O’s of coaching. I read and re-read books by Bill Sands and Gerry George. I read every article in Technique and every article printed by USECA. I was focused on designing better workouts and refining technique. There were championships, big wins and some disappointing losses. As I progressed in my coaching career and climbed the ladder so to speak I saw there was more to it. I gained a balance, a perspective. I realized that that yes the X’s and O’s were still important but it was the people I was coaching, the relationships, the satisfaction of seeing these gymnasts grow into responsible adults and move on with their lives outside of gymnastics.
At National Congress in Pittsburgh this year I ran into a gymnast who I had worked with nearly 30 years ago. Lizzy was part of an amazing group of young athletes I coached in New York in the late 80’s. They were amazing NOT because of their athletic accomplishments, but more because of their focus and dedication, the togetherness and team unity, the willingness to help each other be better. Lizzy epitomized what this group was about. She was not especially athletically gifted but she worked hard to get better and maximize her skills. What made Lizzy stand apart from everyone else was her love of the sport. Visiting with Lizzy brought back many fond memories of those days. It made me regret that I did not take more time to smell the roses and appreciate those kids for what they were. During our visit we barely talked about gymnastics. We talked about the progress of her career and what she had been doing in the last few decades. She is still involved in a type of gymnastics (circus arts) and is one of those people who jumps up on the flying trapeze in a heart beat. Visiting with her reminded of the real rewards of coaching – the people and relationships that endure after the championship trophies tarnish and the medals are stored in a drawer somewhere.
Make sure you take the time to appreciate what is going on around you.