We all know being a coach is time consuming. It is a profession where you take your work home. Each division or level of coaching experiences their own unique set of hardships. At Lake Erie, it’s just me and a graduate assistant. There is A LOT to do between the two of us. We run everything ourselves in the program from top to bottom, we book and schedule everything, we act as tutors and help with academics, we monitor study hall hours, we paint the field, we run lifting sessions, and we break down film. We do it all.
We make do with the very little we have and try to exhaust each resource to its full potential. To say the least, we make it work. Making it work can come with a price, sometimes it means putting small talk with our players on the backburner whenever they come in to say hi. We are distracted, trying to be fully prepared, trying to do everything that’s best for each individual and the team as a whole.
If there is anything I’ve learned these past few months, it’s to TAKE THE TIME to talk to your players, about ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. Talk until they don’t want to talk anymore or right up until they have to leave for class. When they come into your office before they leave for school breaks, talk to them. Let them know their worth on your team and let them know how much you care.
The wins and losses will change each season, but the relationships you build with your players will have a lasting impact on both of your lives, more so than any one game. They will remember all of the times you were there to talk, all of the funny jokes and conversations, all of the times that you gave them advice, and the lessons you taught them about the world and people.
One of our players passed away over winter break. It’s been difficult to comprehend, to see the pain in each player. It’s hard not to miss her every day. She used to FaceTime just to talk, text random questions, or hang out in the office and draw random pictures of her pig, Hamlet, on the whiteboard. When I think back to those times, I wish I was more engaged. I wish I took the time to listen more. I wish I were able to remember every detail of those encounters.
This loss puts a lot into perspective. These young women aren’t just our players who help us win games and better our careers. They are here to help us grow, just as much as we are here to help them grow. I fully understand that at each level there are various pressures and levels of expectations and measures of success. But in the grand scheme of life, are you going to be more proud of the wins you produced or the young women you impacted? Take the time each day to evaluate this and to remember that you are growing more than just a lacrosse player.