This weekend, I was in Fairfield and Napa coaching water polo.
So here is the deal. I like to coach. I coach water polo because it is the sport I know. Before I coached water polo, I worked at a school where they didn't have a pool so I had to learn another sport. I taught myself baseball and cross country just so I could coach there. Some people serve as a big brother and some people a mentor. I like to coach because when you coach, you don't see the kids once a week... you see them 2-3 hours a day at practice and all weekend when you travel.
I care about my regular students but I have 165 of them. Honestly, I really never learn all the names until at least Thanksgiving or even Christmas. (Don't tell them) This year, I have 15 water polo players and I know each of them well.
Over the years, I have seen sports change kids. In the beginning, kids are willing to do what Rick (the guy I have coached with for 8 years... also a Christian) and I ask them to because they want to play. We stress grades, respectful behaviour and personal responsibility. Eventually as the young athletes grow into team leaders, they too require these personality traits from the underclassmen.
A lot of the kids we coach come from good homes where the parents are good examples. Many do not. We have seen a good number of kids totally change their lives, all because they were willing to accept our team values.
My players know that I have faith in God and in Jesus. Because I teach at a public school, I am not allowed to discuss much with them. I am not allowed to pray with them, even if I am not the one leading the prayer. This year, I have been blessed with 4 Christian families. Because these parents are around all the time, at home games and on the road; they also have a positive influence on our athletes. Because they are not public school teachers, they do not have the limitation that I do.
This weekend, I witnessed something that I have not seen in my time of coaching. My team all circled together before a game to have a time of prayer. This prayer was lead by our upperclassmen who at one time were on the verge of dropping out of high school to follow a life of gangs or drugs or whatever.
We also got to go out for some nice Mongolian BBQ. Thanks to Mr. Bryant for saying Grace before we ate. Again, I am not allowed to do that out loud.