Hats off to the men that wear whistles

Published 6:00 am Friday, August 16, 2019

With the finishing touches put on another great Gridiron high school magazine that will come out next Friday ahead of the season’s first football games for local teams, I thought it would be a great time to stop and give some kudos to a group of men that often get more criticism than pats on the back.
Those men are the coaches of the local middle and high school football teams that are spread throughout Carter County.
In gathering all the information for our magazine, it hit me when talking to these coaches that these are family men that probably have better things to do than to spend a large portion of their summers plus the entire fall on the football field, in the weight room, watching film, and working to put together their game plan for the upcoming season.
These men take on a group of young men and at times young women and try to teach the game of football and how it is supposed to be played to get the maximum results from the effort given.
Yet, it is not just the game of football that they are teaching. They are trying to instill values of hard work that if translated from the field of play to adult life will see these young people reaping the maximum return for themselves and their families.
Sometimes these coaches are the only father figure some of their players will ever know and they do not take this lightly as they take these players under their wings almost like the biblical example of a mother hen gathering her chicks under her wings to protect them.
They love them, they demand the best from them, and more importantly, they earn the respect that not only last during their time on the playing field but after graduation and beyond.
That’s why when the final horn of the season bellows out its dreadful sound to mark the end of a high school career that coaches line up and put their arms around each player starting with the seniors and working all the way down the line.
It’s heartbreaking to watch as these players that walked on the field as big, strong, tough, and invincible football players walk off the field with eyes streaming tears realizing the changes coming on the horizon.
Yes, it’s easy to sit in the stands and be the best armchair quarterback and challenge everything that these coaches do and what we think they should do. I know, I have been one of the best over the years.
But it must be my age catching up with me because I now see these coaches through different eyes especially after getting closer as friends with them and hearing their heart for their team, their school, and their community.
And also listening about how they have young children at home that are growing up a lot of times without their fathers around due to their commitment to coach other young people and the wives that have to carry the load while football season is in full swing.
No longer is dad home to tuck them into their bed or get their bathes and help with homework. Mom is now responsible for buckling up her chin-strap, tightening her shoulder pads and diving into all the duties of being both parents while her husband is giving himself to other people’s children.
And for what? A measly stipend that most wouldn’t even take on to commit as much time as these men do. But why do they do it?
They love the game, they love the kids, and they love their community.
So, this season after a game, might I encourage everyone that takes time to ready this column to take time and give your respective coach in your community a pat on the back and thank them for what they are doing for the kids under their guidance.
Remember, it’s not about how many games they win on the field that matters in the long run– it’s the lives they impact in the locker room and on the field that matters most.
My hat is off to you coaches–great job and good luck in 2019!

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