Sunday, March 10, 2013

In Praise of My Husband, the Father and the Coach

My husband has been coaching our sons in  basketball  for more than a decade. This afternoon, he coached as a father for the last time.

During more than 20 years of knowing my husband, I have rarely seen him cry, even in private moments. Today he nearly shed tears as he spoke with his eighth grade recreation department team after their final game. He has been filled with sadness the past few days with the sense of loss over this part of his life.

How blessed I am to have this man in my life and as the father to our two teenaged sons. 

Fathers usually don't coach high schoolers; our borough's recreation department programs end in eighth grade. Greg is a wonderful coach, a skill he learned from his own father, who Greg says is the best coach he ever had. Greg will continue to volunteer as a basketball coach in our community; he's been asked to continue as a volunteer assistant coach for the middle school basketball team. But it is hard to give up being the coach to one's own sons.

Greg is not the kind of "daddy coach" one often sees: men who live out their thwarted athletic dreams through their sons and consequently either run their sons much harder than other players or make their kid the star of the team, the player to whom all others must pass the ball. I felt a sense of pride for my husband when sitting in the stands, talking to a parent a few seasons ago, I introduced myself as the coach's wife. Later in the conversation I explained which player was my son. That parent, whose son also played on the team, had had no idea my son was also the coach's son.

Greg manages to treat all players with equal regard - from the newest, most awkward player to the most seasoned athletes. His goal is to help each one develop during the season and he measures a season a success not by the number of winning games, but by how much each player develops and how well the team learns to work together..

Through the years, I have watched my husband coach all kinds of boys in our small and diverse community, including boys with preteen arrest records, boys with academic troubles and boys with serious disabilities, boys without fathers, and boys without homes who sleep on a cousin's couch.

He knows his players, as boys and as athletes. It is a gift that our own sons have had the chance to watch their father coach and to have him as a coach. I wish every boy could have a father like Greg. And I believe that the kindness he shows to boys who are not his sons makes a difference in their lives.

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