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Jewish Journal

Coach, Sports, Lessons, Power & Greatness

by Ilana Angel

November 30, 2013 | 10:42 am

I am dating a Coach and it has opened me up to a world that I never knew before. I like sports, but they have simply been a source of entertainment not a way of life or place to find inspiration. In spending time with Coach I have learned that beyond the activity and players, lies a group of people so inspiring I have been brought to tears by the words of these remarkable men and women who coach. These dedicated people are a goldmine of inspiration and knowledge.

Part of what attracted me to Coach, beyond the fact he is handsome, funny, lovely, smart, and a great Dad, is how he talks about his job and the kids he coaches. The love and respect he has for his students makes my heart flutter. He is kind, proud, firm, compassionate, tough, and inspiring. He does not just see children, but rather human beings who have tremendous potential regardless of their athletic abilities. He knows he has a responsibility to nurture the future.

In an attempt to understand his world, I have discovered powerful lessons that connect me to faith, hope, love, and survival. There are bad coaches of course, and people who have tarnished the profession, but at the core are people who can lift your spirits, warm your heart, and inspire greatness even if they are not coaching you. These people are gifted and my Coach is included in this special group of teachers and mentors who mix their power with love to do good.

You cannot talk about coaches without mentioning Vince Lombardi. I knew his name of course, but really had no idea why so many revered this man. Some of his quotes are things my father, a huge Green Bay Packers fan said often, but I was unaware they were the words of Mr. Lombardi. Coach Lombardi passed away in 1970 and while I am not a sports enthusiast, he has impacted my life in profound ways.  I want to thank my Dad and also Mr. Lombardi.

I got to thinking about my Dad as my coach throughout my life, and my son’s coaches as he was growing up. He played soccer and baseball, and was very talented at both. Some of his coaches were magic, and others were total assholes. Funny how I never really thought about it until now. Not everyone is meant to coach, but there is real greatness in small towns, big cities, and the pros. These people are impacting how children grow up, see themselves, and dream.

Coaches can take a talented athlete and guide them to a career in sports in the same way they can take a not so talented athlete and make them great in whatever profession they choose. My son is no longer an athlete but he learned things from his coaches that have shaped him into who he is and will allow him to excel in his chosen profession. He is smart, strong, confident, aware, kind, compassionate, and supportive in a way he would not have been without sports.

Sports fans are a fiercely loyal and dedicated group. They love their teams, athletes, and coaches in a powerful way.  There is good and bad in every profession, and in every fan base, but there is something about sports that is really special. Sports can inspire prayer, tears, laughter, and immeasurable joy. My son feels real love for the teams he supports. He is a Chelsea Football fanatic and is invested in the game, players, and the coach. He gets a lot from them all.

When Chelsea went through a series of coach changes he was riveted. His opinion was shared often and he not only had a perspective on it, but a plan on how to make it all better for Chelsea. He was devastated when Roberto Di Matteo was let go, but felt real relief when Jose Mourinho was named his replacement. He took it all to heart and felt a comradery with the players as if he was one of them. In watching him support his beloved boys in blue I could see who had become.

My little child was now a young man. He knows the players stats, can quote the coach, and when they play he speaks to the TV with heart and support. I asked him why he was so invested and he said the team inspired him to be better, smarter, and focused. He is developing who he will be as a man with the help of athletes he does not know. That is real power. It is when a coach understands this power, and uses it for good that they become great and it is magic.

We are all coaches in our own way. As parents, coworkers, and human beings. We all have the ability and opportunity to teach and inspire. These are few quotes I have discovered that are powerful. They are all sport specific, but if you take sports out of the equation you will see they are meaningful and important in all of our lives. They can be applied to faith, love, hope, pain, joy, and sorrow. They are inspiring and we can relate to them any way we need to.

Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.
John Wooden

Winners never quit and quitters never win.
Vince Lombardi

What do you do with a mistake: recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it.
Dean Smith

You are never a loser until you quit trying.
Mike Ditka

Most people do not receive nearly enough appreciation. How can this be when appreciation is free, easy, and readily available? All you have to do is speak. Go give some away now.
Rhoberta Shaler

People of mediocre ability sometimes achieve outstanding success because they don’t know when to quit. Most men succeed because they are determined to.
George Allen

It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up.
Vince Lombardi

Don’t go to the grave with life unused.
Bobby Bowden

Victory is in having done your best. If you've done your best, you've won.
Bill Bowerman

You have to do something in your life that is honorable and not cowardly if you are to live in peace with yourself.
Larry Brown

A champion is afraid of losing. Everyone else is afraid of winning.
Billie Jean King

The only correct actions are those that demand no explanation and no apology.

Red Auerbach

We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.
Vince Lombardi

You are a really sweet girl.
Coach

Watching sports is not for everyone, but learning from coaches should be. In reading about coaches, both good and bad, I have been given insight into the power of words, power of love, and how far one can travel when believed in.  Coaches are a group of people I am learning about, learning from, and appreciating in a way I didn’t know I would. I am inspired by many, crushing on one, and know that in coaching my own child, I inspire him to keep the faith.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Ilana Angel writes two blogs for JewishJournal.com. KEEPING THE FAITH is about her worldview as a single Jewish mother, and KEEPING IT REAL is all about reality television....

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