The following is the second of a three part series on letters from parents to their son’s high school football coach.
The football banquet was really good the other night and we had a great time. You did a really good job of honoring our team, but you always run a good banquet. We wanted to talk to you afterward, but I am not sure we could have properly expressed our gratitude without getting emotional.
Michael was always the smallest and slowest of his buddies. No one really every wanting him on their Little League team, and he never played anything but right field. If he ever hit the ball while batting, we celebrated. He was too small for basketball. We finally agreed to let him play middle school football, but he never got to play unless the game was out of hand. It got to the point that no one ever really gave him a chance anymore. He worked hard at it and loved being a part of his teams, but it always hurt him that he couldn’t contribute on the field as well as the others. I guess you can’t help but feel a little inferior.
We attended every game and supported every way we could but we always hurt for him because he was always on the sideline.
When he became a part of your team and you started working him in the weight room, he got stronger and through all of that running a little faster. We could tell that he felt better about himself and we could see that the confidence he was gaining helped him in other areas of his life. You kept telling him to work hard, that one day he would be able to play. You were the first coach he ever had that expressed any confidence in him and we were thankful for that.
When he was a sophomore I went to practice one day. When I went home I told my wife, “They coach him just as hard as they coach the best guy out there. It’s like they think he is going to play one day.” But I knew in reality he was too small. Michael was so excited when he got to play in those games in the fourth quarter when we got a lead, and we were excited for him. He loved the team so much.
I came and watched preseason practice in August and I saw that he was talking and helping the younger players and encouraging everyone. He told us he was on the first kickoff team, but didn’t tell us he was going to play in the heat of the battle at defensive back. When he went into the game in the first quarter, we both had tears in our eyes. Parents whose children find athletics easy cannot understand how hard it has been all of these years and how much we have hurt for him.
We were amazed at how well he did all season, and when he intercepted that pass, we sent the video to all of our friends and relatives. When the team elected him captain, he told me that, “all of the hard work, all of that disappointment was worth it. Coach was right. He always told us that if you wanted something bad enough and were willing to work for it, you would either achieve it or find something better along the way.”
I saw that when he received his captain award at the banquet, you said something to him. Michael said that you told him that eventually athletic ability will fade, “but you will always be the captain of this team for the rest of your life.”
My son will enter college this fall. We had hoped he would follow my footsteps and study law, but he has decided to become a coach. When he told his mother she looked at him and said, ” Well, be a good one. This world needs great coaches as much as it needs great lawyers.”
Thank you for believing in our son. You saw something in his character and his heart that no one else ever saw. We knew he had it, but just needed someone to inspire him and give him confidence. That someone was you. We just hope that one day, he will do for other young men what you have done for him.