I received an email from one of the coaches who has assisted us in the Spencer Youth Football League for the past four years.
He thanked Dan Heissel and myself who have shared director responsibilities for the local programs for the past few years for having "twisted his arm" to coach four years ago when his son entered the league.
After thinking about his extension of thanks, it struck me, I should be the one thanking him. So I did.
I thanked this coach for making a difference in the lives of children here in Spencer. Because that's what he did, intentionally or otherwise.
He may have originally gotten involved with a bit of coercion from Dan and myself, and the fact that his son was playing in the league I'm sure helped, but over the years he enriched the lives of all those young people whom he shared with on the warm fall nights and cool Saturday mornings.
And that goes for all the coaches whether football, baseball, basketball, softball, wrestling, swimming ... you get the point. Coaching is just one of many ways to get involved in the lives of children and provide a positive, growing atmosphere for young people to thrive in.
Selfishly, for my own personal enjoyment, I have taken an active interest in my own children's lives by helping to coach them in a variety of sporting activities. I love spending the time with them, watching them grow in their ability, and its gives us something special to talk about.
But from that selfish desire, I have been able to build some pretty special relationships with a lot of other great young people. Young people, many of whom receive strong support and encouragement at home, and many, sadly, who do not.
And that is the role a coach can take on.
Encourage a child to be their best and give their maximum effort on the field, and off. Don't just tell them to offer 100 percent of their ability when participating in sports, but in the classroom and while living their lives. Promote the idea that they should never settle for.
These are the gifts that we as adults, taking on the role of a first grade soccer coach, or a sixth grade football coach, have the opportunity ... sorry, the responsibility to share with these young people in our charge.
If they get the same support at home, you're simply reinforcing it; if they don't, you may be the lone light of positive they receive on a limited basis.
Either way, coaches don't need to be thanking the director's for the opportunity to coach, rather the director's and the parents, need to be thanking the coaches for taking an interest in their children.
The greatest gift a coach can receive, and I know the thing that brings a smile to my face faster than anything, is to have a young person I worked with, approach me a couple of years down the road and say two simple words: "Hi coach."
That is a special reward.