It's the final send-off from (former) Texas Aggies football coach Mike Sherman to a long list of hundreds of Texas high school football coaches, a sort of combination thank you/so long/keep in mind sermon wherein Sherman defines and delineates several concepts which he feels are paramount to successful coaches.
And what's most cool is how most of the concepts do not really limit themselves to football coaching application.
Sure, advice like "Never Pass Up an Opportunity to Practice Tackling" might be rather specific and limited in non-football application, but when the bulk of the (long) letter addresses such Big Issue concerns as Respect and Truth and Honesty and Love... you know you're not reading a normal piece of football coaching rah-rah.
As a parent (x4!) who has spent a lot of time -- a whooooole lot... (oy) -- coaching youth sports, I have a pathetic familiarity with a lot of the emotions Sherman describes, and I like to think that I've come to share at least some of his values and beliefs. At least I hope so, because when I read Sherman's letter I want to send it to every coach I've ever worked with or against and shout "See!?! THIS is what I've been saying -- THIS is what it's about! THIS is why we're really here -- not for some silly damned plastic and fake marble trophy or some stupid aluminim medal or some bilious scrap of colored ribbon!"
When I read this:
We must never lose sight, however, that with the opportunity to coach these young men and experience victory together, there also comes the huge responsibility to make a difference in their lives. We must never lose sight of the fact: "once their coach always their coach." Where others may have failed them, we as coaches cannot. Where others have created mistrust, we must bring trust. Where others have created disrespect, we must bring respect. Where others have let them down, we must support them. We owe that to them regardless of their talent or ability. We owe that to them regardless of wins and losses.
I want to stand and cheer, as it reminds me that there is Hope and Good out there, and there are people out there fighting to defend these ideas, and there are men and women carrying these notions into the lives of hundreds of thousands of young kids who deserve to know and feel and experience and cherish all that should be most wonderful in Sport.
I have no idea where Coach Sherman will wind up in his next job, but I know these two things: whatever team he inherits will have the rare and wonderful opportunity to be led by a true gentleman, and I will become an immediate fan of whatever team he leads.
Thanks for your time in Aggieland, Coach.