I Learned The Most From My Toughest Coach

I Learned The Most From My Toughest Coach

He might have given me some of the hardest days of my life, but in the end, he really was a good coach.
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Well, this looks... interesting, I thought to myself as I surveyed the turf. Boys, all around the same age as me, were scattered around the field, like toys in a toddler's messy room. It was my first practice as a select soccer player. I had played soccer for a while before then but had played at the rec level before deciding to take the step up into select soccer that year. As I finished tying up my shoes and warming up, a man emerged from the training rooms.

He stomped up the hill and announced in a deep, thick African accent, "Ok everyone, line up! 10 laps around the field, let's go! Do it quickly!" Little did I know that I would spend the next two years hating that man, who I would call my coach for my next four seasons. Every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday I would wake up and immediately feel anxious about the upcoming practice or game. However, my coach taught me many valuable life lessons that have helped me mature and become the person and player I am today.

My coach taught me to persevere through the tough times.

And trust me, there were a lot of those during my time with him. There were days when I would go there, and it would just be one strenuous drill after another, with him yelling at us the entire time. Those days had an immense physical toll on me, too. I would come home without a single iota of energy left in me. All I wanted to do is collapse on my bed and lay there for hours. But I had to get up, push through the pain and continue to work. I learned that to see results, you must fight through the lowest of the lows. Time and time again, I had to persevere, push away thoughts of quitting and keep working to get better. Now, I have gained that mentality of never giving up and fighting until the end, and I can thank my coach for that.

My coach taught me is leadership.

I learned very quickly that being the quiet, calm kid will get me nowhere. Instead, I had to step up and learn how to lead. And trust me, with a group of rowdy soccer players my age, learning was not easy at all. But over time, with the (harsh) guidance of my coach, I learned proper leadership skills and methods that I use almost every day now. I may have complained endlessly about his yelling and strictness, but my first coach gave me one of my most valuable skills, and I am grateful to him for that.

My first soccer coach also taught something else important, but this one is unlike the other two. During practice, he would always be criticizing, yelling and glaring at one player or another. That set all the players on edge. As a result, there were many disagreements and sometimes even fights among players.Through the disagreements, I learned to find the positives in everyone and that I should always stay optimistic. Over the seasons, I used those two skills to get on the good side of all of my teammates and soon, I was on good terms with almost all of the team. I implemented those two skills into my daily life, and the results have been phenomenal.

Four seasons of Coach S. led to lots of frustration, anger and pain in the beginning. It was really hard to endure the mental and physical toll of his intense practices, training and games. However, I learned many life lessons from my time with him that I can use both in my future soccer career and my personal life. So, I guess he was a good coach after all.

Thank you, Coach S.

Cover Image Credit: Abdullah Chandasir

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The Coach That Killed My Passion

An open letter to the coach that made me hate a sport I once loved.
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I fell in love with the game in second grade. I lived for every practice and every game. I lived for the countless hours in the gym or my driveway perfecting every shot, every pass and every move I could think of. Every night after dinner, I would go shoot and would not allow myself to go inside until I hit a hundred shots. I had a desire to play, to get better and to be the best basketball player I could possibly be.

I had many coaches between church leagues, rec leagues, personal coaches, basketball camps, middle school and high school. Most of the coaches I had the opportunity to play for had a passion for the game like I did. They inspired me to never stop working. They would tell me I had a natural ability. I took pride in knowing that I worked hard and I took pride in the compliments that I got from my coaches and other parents. I always looked forward to the drills and, believe it or not, I even looked forward to the running. These coaches had a desire to teach, and I had a desire to learn through every good and bad thing that happened during many seasons. Thank you to the coaches that coached and supported me through the years.

SEE ALSO: My Regrets From My Time As A College Softball Player

Along with the good coaches, are a few bad coaches. These are the coaches that focused on favorites instead of the good of the entire team. I had coaches that no matter how hard I worked, it would never be good enough for them. I had coaches that would take insults too far on the court and in the classroom.

I had coaches that killed my passion and love for the game of basketball.

When a passion dies, it is quite possibly the most heartbreaking thing ever. A desire you once had to play every second of the day is gone; it turns into dreading every practice and game. It turns into leaving every game with earphones in so other parents don't talk to you about it. It meant dreading school the next day due to everyone talking about the previous game. My passion was destroyed when a coach looked at me in the eyes and said, "You could go to any other school and start varsity, but you just can't play for me."

SEE ALSO: Should College Athletes Be Limited To One Sport?

Looking back now at the amount of tears shed after practices and games, I just want to say to this coach: Making me feel bad about myself doesn't make me want to play and work hard for you, whether in the classroom or on the court. Telling me that, "Hard work always pays off" and not keeping that word doesn't make me want to work hard either. I spent every minute of the day focusing on making sure you didn't see the pain that I felt, and all of my energy was put towards that fake smile when I said I was OK with how you treated me. There are not words for the feeling I got when parents of teammates asked why I didn't play more or why I got pulled after one mistake; I simply didn't have an answer. The way you made me feel about myself and my ability to play ball made me hate myself; not only did you make me doubt my ability to play, you turned my teammates against me to where they didn't trust my abilities. I would not wish the pain you caused me on my greatest enemy. I pray that one day, eventually, when all of your players quit coming back that you realize that it isn't all about winning records. It’s about the players. You can have winning records without a good coach if you have a good team, but you won’t have a team if you can't treat players with the respect they deserve.

SEE ALSO: To The Little Girl Picking Up A Basketball For The First Time


Cover Image Credit: Equality Charter School

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13 Gifts That Any Sports Fanatic Is Sure To Love

These gifts are sure to be a hole in one.

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Check out these 13 gifts that any sports lover in your life will absolutely love this holiday season.

1. NFL Barware Crate

This NFL Barware Crate from Man Crates is ideal for any football fan. It includes pint glasses with any NFL team's logo, bottle openers and a mix of bar nuts. The perfect mix of gifts for the perfect football Sunday.

2. NBA ugly Christmas sweater

If your sports fan is a fan of the NBA like me, they would LOVE this NBA ugly Christmas sweater. It's festive and shows off who you're rooting for this basketball season.

3. Knitted beer mitt

I'm from Wisconsin so, obviously, I'm a Green Bay Packers fan. Most of our football season is played in the winter, and Lambeau Field's nickname is "the frozen tundra," but that doesn't stop us fans from going to Green Bay and supporting our green and gold. And what's a football game without beer? This knitted beer mitt is ideal for any football fan that cheers their team out in the cold.

4. Golf mug

For the golf fan who is also a fan of coffee. With this coffee mug, you also get a mini golf ball and a putter that is actually a pen. During some downtime in the office, start a round of golf.

5. The Sports Bucket List book

This sports bucket list book written by Rob Fleder and Steven Hoffman is a great gift for a sports fan who likes to travel. The book includes 101 different and memorable places, games and matches around the world. Gift this book to your sports lover and help them complete their brand new bucket list!

6. MLB game used uniform wallet

This wallet is definitely something a baseball fan would cherish for a long time. This wallet includes interior dividers that are made from game-used MLB jerseys. You can choose from seven MLB teams.

7. Funny sports socks

One of the most practical ways to tell someone you're busy watching football. These socks are not only cozy but sport the, "Shhh, I'm watching football" saying to let everyone know that you shouldn't be bothered while your feet are up.

8. Vineyard Vines college shirt

Vineyard Vines is a brand that is known to be worn around college campuses. If your sports fan is currently enrolled at a university and loves supporting his colors, this shirt is the perfect fit for him this football season.

9. Unique cuff links

If your man is strictly business but loves strutting off the love for his NFL team, these subtle but super unique cufflinks are best gift he'll receive yet. They are not only classy, but the color inside is actually a piece from an NFL stadium seat!

10. Game used hockey puck bottle opener

For the hockey fanatic that also is a fanatic for brews. These hockey puck bottle openers are not only cool (hockey pun intended) but were once played as game pucks for an NHL game.

11. Sports mug with backboard 

This mug is fun for all ages and comes in other sports like football, basketball and more. For once you won't get yelled at for playing with your food.

12. Their favorite player's jersey

Every sports fanatic has a favorite player. A jersey is one of the easiest but one of the best gifts you can get someone. If they have one already, get them one from a different era or a different color!

13. Tickets to a sporting event

Another easy but perfect gift for a sports fan. Get them tickets to their favorite sporting event. Give them an experience they will never forget.

Please note that all items are in stock as of the time of publication. As an Amazon Associate, Odyssey may earn a portion of qualifying sales.

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