As the national convention wrapped up last week, after taking the opportunity to connect with old friends and buddies, and making plenty of new connections over the course of a few days, I took some time to reflect on some of the things that make the coaching profession so special.
While plenty of coaches set out from early on to become a coach, and take calculated moves in their lives to get to where they envision themselves professionally, others "get bit" by the coaching bug and end up in the profession by chance - or divine intervention. Most all of us can say that we chose the coaching profession over another line of work, because while many of us get a degree in coaching by being students of the game, and studying the coaches we play and work under, a Bachelor's or Master's in Coaching isn't something that's real (yet).
So whether you chose the profession, or the profession somehow chose you, and regardless of whether you're just getting your feet wet in the profession, or you're a seasoned veteran a few years away from hanging up the whistle, here's some perspective on what the coaching profession provides you with, should it happen to be your career.
1 - LIFELONG FRIENDSHIPS
The AFCA convention, and all conventions and clinics this time of year, serve as great reminders on the bonds that are created through coaching. It can be something hard for people outside of coaching to understand, but whether you coached together with someone for a year, or decades, the bond that is created is something special. A sports season is filled with so many highs and lows, challenges and triumphs, and both tough and rewarding decisions and conversations that lifelong connections are made because of it. A decade later you can run into a coaching buddy and pick up right where you left off, and that's a unique characteristic of this profession.
2 - UNBREAKABLE BONDS WITH YOUR PLAYERS
Teaching players life lessons through football is the reason that many of us get into the coaching profession, and those lessons tend to create an unbreakable bond between players and their coach. There's nothing like connecting with former players that have gone on to be successful in their chosen walk of life and knowing, or having them tell you, the impact that you had on their lives. Chances are, whether they see you six months after the season, or 50 years afterwards, they'll still call you "coach," and there's something really special about that. Those players become a special extended part of your family.
3 - INVALUABLE LIFE LESSONS
As much as we tend to teach players over the course of a season, players also have a tendency to teach coaches along the way as well. For example, players teach us things like how to motivate and effectively communicate with a number of different types of individuals who are driven by a variety of different motives. Working with young kids is also a great daily reminder of how your priorities and views have a tendency to change over the years which has a way of providing important perspective.
4 - AN APPRECIATION OF QUALITY TIME WITH YOUR FAMILY
Coaching requires so much time away from your loved ones, that you - and your family - learn to appreciate quality time with each other. It can be something as simple as a family movie night, reading the kids a bedtime story that literally nothing can come in the way of, or a weekend getaway to somewhere close but sentimental to everyone. Time is something that we all have a specified amount as, so it's important to make the most of that time by making a conscious effort of making memories with our loved ones.
5 - A UNIQUE LENSE TO VIEW LIFE THROUGH
Coaching and getting to work with a variety of players from all different walks of life tends to provide some important perspective on your own life. Coaches get to know their players on a personal level that most don't see and some kids aren't able to pack a lunch for school because of one reason or another but you'd never know it from the kid's positive daily attitude, others go home to a single-parent household, while others face some really dire situations and come to school and practice because it the place where the people who work and coach there are the highlight of their day. Working with kids like this provides invaluable perspective on life and what is really important, and gives coaches a unique lense to look at life's challenges, and triumphs, through.
(Note: Obviously this is geared toward football coaches, but the same can be said about coaches in all sports.)