I grew up in an era where coaches, parents and elders showed they cared about you by being hard on you, constantly testing and pushing you beyond what you thought you were capable of. I became a better man because of it, and not just a better football player, soccer player, or even a baseball player. Though I played everything I could get my hands on—from a ball to a puck and gloves even—the importance of me playing everything I could possibly fit into my schedule wasn’t the fact that it made me a better all-around athlete (even though it certainly did), but that my parents exposed me to so many different coaches and styles of coaching. With every great coach I had, I noticed certain characteristics carried over into my life, and these were always from the coaches who got my attention right away. Some were super intense and in your face. Others just had to give you the “look” and that would completely destroy you. But they all had a way of pushing me past my comfort zone and most importantly teaching me about myself and how to apply the things I learned on and off the field.
Like any stubborn kid growing up (maybe that’s putting things lightly), I didn’t view my coaches and elders as being as influential in my life as they actually were. With their toughness, experiences and persistence they were helping to mold me into the man I am today. I wasn’t able to realize this until much later in adulthood, when I was able to better grasp the concepts these coaches were drilling into my brain and why they were so important. I am still working on these principles in my own life today.
As a coach myself, I believe we have a problem in our country. You look around and notice that there aren’t as many of these influential coaches molding our youth today. You might look at this and think that it’s a coaching problem, but I believe it’s a generation problem. Kids are now being raised in an environment in which everyone gets a trophy. Parents say things such as, “How dare you raise your voice to my kid and possibly hurt his feelings” or “Everyone should get equal playing time no matter what.” How could any coach demand a certain standard and enforce it while trying to abide by these society guidelines? All this fluffy stuff is turning our athletes and kids into just that, FLUFF. The minute we stop allowing our kids to be coached strongly, we are removing the pressure that’s needed to form the diamond.
America is becoming too soft. Children have become soft, our leaders are soft, and we are losing the very toughness that built this great nation. We’ve gone so soft that praying, or acts such as standing for the national anthem, have become offensive to people. We’re too small-minded and too caught up in our own insecurities to see the bigger picture. Instead of putting my cape on and trying to shift the culture to adopt my ideas (which would be nearly impossible), I believe we need to start with the athlete himself. All those who have ever achieved greatness did so because they wanted to. There is no accident in greatness. If you want it, you will find a way to get it, and you need pressure as a young man so when you are faced with a real-life situation, you are strong enough to handle it.
Take a hard look at yourself and see if you are doing things every day to become your best. How Bad do you want it? Do you have what it takes?
Be honest and MAN UP.