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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Call to Coach by Doug Wysockey-Johnson

Coaches are in the news these days for all the wrong reasons.  We are sickened and angry to hear about the coach at Penn State who betrayed the trust of some young boys.  It is easy to feel cynical and even suspicious about coaches these days.

At this time I think it is especially important to hear about a different coach, a coach who is called to coach for all the right reasons.  Joe Erhmann was an All-American at Syracuse and an NFL star for the Baltimore Colts.  Since then he has been a high school football coach and a minister.  Speaking about the crimes at Penn State, this is what one coach had to say to other coaches:

Moral courage is what sustains the basic freedoms and responsibilities of life in community; we belong to each other; we need each other; we affect each other.  What is painfully missing in this horrific story at Penn State is the lack of moral courage displayed by men who spent a lifetime in education, leadership, sports, coaching and working with young people.  Courage can be divided into two types: physical and moral.  Of the two however, physical courage is the more recognized virtue in the world of sports.  Coaches talk about physical courage, encourage it, and hold up examples to the team often in the context of fighting through injuries, rehabilitation, and pain.  There is far too little emphasis, teaching, modeling, nurturing and developing of moral courage.
                                                                        Blog, Nov. 14, 2011

Joe Erhmann coached high school football for years. He wanted to win, and his teams did win quite often.  But the mission was much larger.  He wanted to help his boys become men. Here is how he defines masculinity:

Masculinity, first and foremost, ought to be defined in terms of relationships.  It ought to be taught in term of the capacity to love and to be loved.  At the end of your life, it is going to come down to this:  What kind of father were you?  What kind of husband were you?  What kind of coach or teammate were you?  What kind of son were you” What kind of friend were you?

And I think the second criterion—the only other criterion for masculinity—is that all of us ought to have some kind of cause, some kind of purpose in our lives that’s bigger than our own individual hopes, dreams, wants, and desires.  At the end of our life, we ought to be able to look back over it from our deathbed and know that somehow the world was a better place because we lived, we loved, we were other-centered, other -focused.
                                                Seasons of Life by Jeffrey Marx

Even in this discouraging time, I am thankful for coaches.  I am grateful for the people in my life that took the time to be my coach.  I am grateful for the coaches that today take the time to lead my son and daughter.

And I am grateful for people like Joe Erhmann for whom coaching is a call with a larger mission than to win games.

Who was your favorite coach?  

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