There is something about the 5 AM alarm going off the very last week of summer. The repeated beeping is slightly less annoying than it is on any regular ol’ day. I don’t exactly love this wake-up call but I don’t hate it either.
There is a different feeling in the household this day and one that remains for the next 3 months. Perhaps it is a spark of joy. Any guesses on what day it is? You guessed it, the first “official” day of practice for the upcoming season! Our toddler daughter awakes and bolts out to the living room. “Daddy at practice?” Our sweet baby girl is filled with joy to know soon she will get a wave from the football field. You can see the excitement in her big brown eyes.
When we head to daycare, we are fortunate to have to pass the practice field where she yells as loud as her little vocal cords will allow, “There’s daddy! There's football players!”
Coach, you get the spunk and sass out of a little girl who wants nothing more than to be big. She can’t wait for the day she is watching practice like her older brother. Speaking of, no one in the house is more excited than our almost 8-year-old son. If he didn’t make it to practice, he is up pacing, tossing the football, and waiting on you to walk in the door.
The second you walk in our son asks, “How was it? Who impressed you today? Did everyone show up? How is defense looking?” This continues until we have all bases of the three-hour long practice covered. I can already see coaching in his future.
Then there is me. I'm just as eager as the children to hear about your first day. The night before the first practice feels a lot like Christmas eve. Typical mom move, let the kids express their excitement first. My excitement differs from the rest of the houses. You see, regardless of talent or what the season is shaking up to look like I get to see coach at your absolute best.
I love watching you, coach, as a mentor, a leader, a father figure, a cook, a janitor, a trainer, a mathematician, a writer, a fieldhouse keeper, a shopper for the kids lacking what they need, and a taxi for those who wouldn’t make it otherwise.
The kids' personal favorite is seeing you as a celebrity every time you are on the news. When trying to think of a word that encompasses all that you are on and off the field, I come up short. ALL that you are, all that you take on, and everything you manage is difficult to speak for.
And then it clicked, HERO.
You are so much more than a football coach. You are a hero to 50 young men every fall.
Even on the days it's hard and on the days you don’t want to grind, you show up. Teaching us all that dedication is what it really takes for most things in life. This work is making a difference in your players, your coaches, your coworkers, your family, and most of all your community.
There is so much that a coach does for his own family and for others. I hope not one second of this work will go unnoticed. Yet, most of the time it does. The beauty within this is that you are okay with that. That’s what coaches do, coaches are good people. To some, you’re just a guy in a booney hat who really likes to swing his whistle around. But those of us behind the scenes know exactly who and what you are. A hidden hero.