Last night I ran into a convenience store that is not necessarily on my side of town. As I waited for the clerk to ring up my junk food and bottled water, she looked at me and exclaimed; ” You were the coolest coach ever!”
“Excuse me?” I said, unsure if she was talking to me, around me or to the person behind me.
“You coached volleyball when I was in high school for parks and rec! You weren’t my coach but you coached the team that my team played and you were the coolest coach! Do you remember playing my team? Remember me? My name is Stephanie!”
Ummm…..hmmmm. My mind jumped through hoops trying to remember a volleyball player who wasn’t on my team from years, years ago. Ahhhh, there the memory was! I found it, hidden deep and long forgotten, but still there. I remembered yelling at my “kids” on the volleyball court to “hustle”, “move your feet” with an occasional ” set, set, SET the ball!!!!”. I could hear the squeak of their volleyball shoes as they jumped, slid and spiked the ball. I could hear the excitement in their voices as we won the match, and see the disappointment in their faces as we lost the game……
Win or lose, after every game, I told each of them how awesome they were; how well they played and how super proud I was of them…..Hugs, high fives and knuckle hand-shakes…..my “kids” were always winners in my eyes, regardless of score cards, team stats or rankings. There was another coach in the league who demanded perfection from her “kids”. She drilled them an hour before each game; screaming at them to ” either play the game to win or don’t play at all.” If they lost, you would see them running laps on the track, carefully stopping every other lap to practice footwork moves….. I’m not saying their coach was not good…… I am saying her coaching style was different their mine. Win or lose, it was my goal to teach my players that sportsmanship, attitude and effort defined the person, not the scorecard.
Every year, an award was presented to the team that displayed the best sportsmanship. every player from every team had to nominate the most deserving team…….. and…….every year my kids took the trophy!!!!!!!!! Parents beamed with pride as each player walked across the gym stage to receive their own lapel pin……oh, such a proud moment!
“Eighty- seven cents is your change. So do you remember me?” Stephanie asked as she handed me the change. ” You were the coolest coach ever. When I went to play volleyball in college, I could hear you telling your players to play from the heart, with feet moving. You taught me stuff and I wasn’t even on your team! I tried to get on your team the following year, but you didn’t come back as a coach……” Her voice trailed off, as if she was disappointed.
“Of course I remember you! I hope college is treating you well….” I replied. We talked until another customer appeared in line to be checked out.
As I walked away, she yelled after me ” Nice to see you Coach!”
Coach. A title long forgotten. You know, we all have worn many hats throughout our lives, hopefully touching and impacting the lives of others along the journey. Today, as I walk through the facility, I look at the resident’s, each affected by dementia, YET, they too, impacted the lives of others along their way. Somewhere out there in the world, there are people that came in contact with these very residents, sitting in wheelchairs, impacted by the disease process. Sitting in the facility dining room today, are military officers, who I am sure taught the men and women under their command, lessons that would never be forgotten. Sitting across the table are housewives who taught Sunday School every Sunday, warmly hugging the little ones as they entered the classroom. There is a gentleman sitting by the window, who donated his time every Saturday at a homeless shelter. On and on I could go…….
The point I am trying to make is this. None of us know the impact we have on another person’s life. We may never know….but what a heart- warming feeling it is to have someone share with us of something we did or said that touched them. Age nor disease processes can never change the gifts we gave, time shared or other contributions we made to others.
Each day that we encounter another individual, we need to remember that even if we forget the person, they may never forget us……..