This past off season college football saw a number of legends step away from the sidelines including legends like Steve Spurrier, Gary Pinkel, and Frank Beamer who all spent decades in the profession.
Everyone in the coaching profession, regardless of sport, knows someone that has either hung up his or her whistle at the end of a long career, or traded that whistle in for another job - one with better job security, or benefits - or had to step away for any other variety of reasons.
Sure, taking the coaching hat off frees up more time to spend with family, or to golf, fish, or hunt, but those that step away from the game always end up feeling empty in a few areas that no hobby on earth can fill.
Sooner or later we'll all have to grapple with the decision to step away ourselves, so here are the five areas that coaches genuinely miss after deciding to hang up their whistle:
1 - The camaraderie
For coaches, camaraderie can mean a number of things, some of which include; representing a community on game days, the band striking up on a Friday night, the smell of fresh cut grass, the unique traditions that make sports so great, the aroma of freshly poured beer and dry erase markers, or picking up the phone and calling to pick the brain of another coach, and going to clincs to socialize and improve your craft. Any way you slice it, that camaraderie is something sorely missed when you're no longer coaching.
2 - The competition
Coaching sports is a chess match of sorts that involve a unique blend of knowledge, wits, creativity, ingenuity, experience, and faith in your players and fellow coaches. In my opinion, no other profession can come close in this area. Preparing your team to execute a game plan all week before taking the field and waging battle with another team is so uniquely challenging that you simply can't find it in any other arena.
3 - The kids
Of all the great benefits that come with coaching, 99,9% of guys get into it to mentor young people and help them become better people, students, and athletes and prepare them for life beyond the sport. Being able to play an instrumental role in the development of kids is incredibly fulfilling in ways that few know and walking away from that can leave a giant void in anyone's life.
4 - The relationships
It's a message that is said time and time again "[insert sport here] is all about relationships". The message is as true as it is old and those relationships include unique bonds with players, fellow coaches, administrators, teachers, and the community that only sports can provide.
5 - The strategy and preparation
For reasons that will probably forever be unknown those outside the profession, there is nothing that compares to burying yourself in a dark film room for hours and racking your brain with ways that your team can take advantage of what you're seeing on film and then taking that knowledge and sharing it with your team and practicing it for hours, days, and weeks at a time. It can be an absolute grind sometimes, but the process is special nontheless
Those same five reasons listed above also double as reasons why coaches who decide to step away from the game often end up putting the whistle back on and roaming the sidelines once again.
Sports are special, and so are the coaches who dedicate their lives to them.