"What's hard is that there's not another game after some losses."
Coach As Man: One story, packaged for multiple audiences.
"You'll hear good things from most of my former players and coaches. Same from the parents, too, I hope. But I'll tell you that not everyone likes what I've done or how I've done it, and the ones who have the hardest time with it are the people in the world I love the most.
"You see, my dad left when I was four and I haven't seen or heard from him since. My Little League coach, the father of another kid on the team, paid attention to me and made me feel like I mattered. He invited me to church, which is where I learned about God the Father, and I wanted the connection with both of them – my coach and God. The coach moved away when I was in junior high, but by then I'd already decided I wanted to be a coach. I also wanted a career that would allow me to be home to be a great dad. That's all I had in mind when I went to college.
"I thought I had it all figured out. I was teaching and coaching, married the love of my life, had a boy and three girls, and went to church every Sunday morning and Wednesday night. I worked hard, and the program did well. I was home every night.
"By the time my son was 13, it was clear he wasn't all that into sports. That was fine with me, because all I cared about was him being good at whatever he wanted to do and whoever he was. It was a game day, and I was going to have to miss his band concert because of it. He said to me, 'Dad, I'm proud of you. I think it's great that your team wins and that you pay special attention to the kids who don't have dads. But I wish I could be one of your starters. I did the math, and you make less money per hour coaching than you pay me to mow the yard, but you do it anyway. You miss so many dinners and so much of my life for less money than you could make cutting grass. I'm sorry to be mean to you, Dad, but I miss you, and I know I won't ever do what you do to my family.'
"That was a rough day. And things didn't really get better, just quieter. I made changes to my schedule that probably helped my relationships with my daughters as they came up, but it was too little too late for him. He felt rejected, and once he made coaching his enemy, in his mind there was no fixing it other than to have me quit. My wife thought that's what I should do, too. But I couldn't.
"I hope that this project will help explain why, and that it will also free my son up to parent more from his heart than from his heritage when the time comes."
COMMON coach PACKAGE DETAILS
- Principal interviews
- Family interviews
- Associate/friend interviews
- Past player survey/story collection
- Photo collection
- Family-oriented honor book
- Non-family honor book version
- Original illustrated children's book
- Commissioned art
- Original music
- Family gifts
- Advice book
- Honoring event / experience
- 6-18 month total engagement time
Please think of this as an abbreviated list of variations from which we can build the engagement.
This project was funded by three former players who have turned pro, as well as by a collection taken by the booster clubs and athletic department of the coach's past and current schools.
Interviews were conducted with the coach, his wife, all four children, five former coaching associates, his brother, and his pastor. The content from the interviews produced the structure for all of the other items.
Over 700 former players responded to emails and survey requests, offering anecdotes, famous phrases from the coach, lessons they'd learned from him, well wishes, and photos of themselves while they were on the team and today. Each former player received a 150-page magazine sharing the coach's life story, his philosophy and lessons learned, and material the players contributed.
The coach received all of the former players' contributions, honor dinners (which were also used as fundraisers) at three different schools, a shorter version of the magazine that the now Division III college coach gives to prospective players and their parents, and a commissioned painting that relates to a private story.
The family received an archive-quality book (bound in the leather used on the balls in the coach's sport) that shares more personal stories, intimate content, includes rich personal blessings spoken by the coach for each family member, and focuses exclusively on the person who is "Dad" and "Dear," leaving the material about "Coach" in the other products.
While it's unclear just what all the Coach's family will take away away from the sum of the effort, they all agree the project brought up and cleared up many topics, and brought the family together.