For over four decades I had the marvelous privilege and honor to assist and help coach runners at six different high schools (see below). Over the years I have had the honor to work with runners from other schools, as well, who sought me out desiring to reach another level of excellence in their running. As breathing is natural, running has been a natural part of my life since I was thirteen years old. For me a day without running is like a day without sunshine. Over the years working with runners has been for me a passion; a passion I have sought to pass on to others. Working with runners has always been to me as enjoyable as a hog wallowing in a warm mud hole! It was an extension of my ministry and I loved every second of it. For health reasons, I had to step aside from coaching on a consistent basis… and boy do I miss it.
What do I miss about coaching?
I miss the kids. I miss the best part of the day…being with them. I miss their enthusiasm. I miss their laughter. I miss their horseplay. I miss giving them encouragement. I miss watching them mature as runners and as individuals. I miss watching them bind together as a team into a family. I miss watching a kids skepticism about what they think they can accomplish, being replaced with confidence that they can reach what was once thought to be an unattainable goal. I miss the reward of watching a kid run a personal best time and the satisfaction it brings them. I miss the joy of the seeing the beaming smile on a kids face when they climb onto the podium to receive a championship medal hung around their neck, a dream they at one time deemed impossible. Whether it be a new PR or a championship medal, I miss the exhilaration and satisfaction of knowing you have helped a kid create a memory they will carry with them the rest of their lives.
I miss the motivational speeches I gave the kids. I miss sharing with them track stories from my past. I miss watching the needle on a kids confidence meter continue upward, watching their eyes exclaim “I can do it” as they take my words and stories to heart. I miss watching the kids workout and watching them improve. I miss telling them before practice and races that I believe in them and that they can accomplish their goals if they are willing to work hard for them. I miss the nervousness and the anticipation that I felt on meet days. I miss the handshake or the hug after a successful race. I miss hearing the loud rocking noise on a bus after winning a championship. I even miss the silence of disappointment after a close loss, as it gave me the opportunity to teach them how to deal with defeat and disappointment in life. I missing teaching them principles from running which can be applied to every area of ones life. I miss, like a father, the pride and satisfaction of watching the runners grow-up over four years from boys to men and from girls to women.
I miss the smell of the outdoors in the fall during cross country season. I miss the smell of the blossoms of spring during outdoor track season. I miss the stifling heat during the summer in preparation for cross country. I miss the bite of the cold of winter in preparation for track. I miss the stuffy smell of running indoor track meets. I miss planning workouts. I miss watching the kids workout. I miss figuring out what workouts a kid best responds, too. I miss a kid flashing a tired smile when they have successfully completed a gut-busting workout, walking way with their tank empty but carrying a bucket full of confidence. I miss watching a kid standing on the starting line, nervous but knowing they are ready to meet the challenge. I miss the smell of sweaty runners after a race who has just given me their all. I miss the sweat on my arms when placing it on a kids shoulder after a race when they did well or when they suffered disappointment.
I miss the strategy that goes with running and sitting down and devising a plan how an unbeatable runner can be beat. I miss the satisfaction when one of my runners beat an unbeatable runner. I miss the maneuvering of runners in a multitude of events in an attempt to win a team championship. I miss the exhilaration when the maneuvering resulted in us taking home the championship. I miss switching runners on a relay team until I found the winning combination. I miss breaking out in a huge smile when the right combination breasted the winning tape first. I miss shaking the opposing coach’s hand when we won and when we lost. I miss the musical chatter drifting through the air at a fast food restaurant after a track or cross country meet.
I miss listening to kids problems. I miss praying for and with the kids. I miss helping kids make good decisions. I miss telling kids I am proud of them. I miss telling the kids I love them. I miss watching kids graduate and go on to be successful and productive citizens. I miss the wonderful people I have met along the way. I miss developing relationships that last a life time. But I am most grateful for the many relationships that the Good Lord has allowed me to enjoy and the many people that have impacted and enriched my life beyond measure and still do. I have truly been a blessed man over the years and still am. It would take the language of angels to express all the thanksgiving in my heart.