To the Editor,
Iíve been photographing Waxahachie High School sports for four decades. Thatís more games, kids and coaches than I can count. Today, Iím shooting kids of players that I shot in the 1980s.
I once asked a coach, ďIíve never understood why in the hell you would go into a profession where your job performance is based on wins and loses by a bunch of 17 year old kids.Ē Letís face it ... at 16 or 17, there are a lot of distractions. Lots of doors to open, but few paths that lead to success.
To every man, and to every woman, the answer is always the same. ďWe do it for the kids.Ē
Iíve thought about that for years. Coaches are never paid enough for the hours they put in, both on and off the field. And somehow, they are able to lead a double life as exceptional educators in the classroom. They have to gracefully and respectfully deal with parents, who have somehow have become more educated in the sport(s) than a coachesí years of training. Coaches have the ability to pull marginal kids on the edge of scholastic and social success or failure into an environment that is accepting, disciplined and goal-orientated. In many cases, coaches take the place of parents who canít or wonít provide guidance, discipline and respect for their own children.
Iíve seen coaches get in a players face and tell them to get into the game, or go to the bus. Ten minutes later, Iíve seen the same coach embrace a kid who did something as simple as be in the right place at the right time, even if the play was 20 yards away.
Extra curricular activity, at any level of education, is a good thing. Itís an outlet, itís a stage, itís a place to learn and a place to grow. As I watch the progress of the Long Range Educational Planning Committee, Iím heartened, but not surprised by the success of Waxahachieís Global High. Success breeds success, which fosters and develops a solid foundation to build on. Global High succeeds because like-minded kids thrive in an environment that encourages knowledge, competition, leadership and success.
The high school sports world is no different. Teenagers pointed in the same direction with the same goals and discipline can accomplish great things. All of these are driven by teachers, aides, administrators and coaches. Each and every one of us has a teacher or coach that had a lasting and dramatic impact on our lives. It may have been as simple as a pat on the back, or as small as an encouraging word when we most needed encouragement. Maybe it was staying late to help with an assignment, or taking extra time to explain the fundamentals of a defensive scheme.
For all of us who have, or who are raising teenagers, itís about guidance, and showing each student athlete that overcoming the fear of failure is our true calling. Show a kid the path to success, and youíve put them on the road to adulthood. It may take them a while to get there, but they know the way. Knowing the way is the goal.
The next time you want to criticize a coach or teacher, take a step back and look at the obstacles and the results. Itís not notches in the won or lost column that matter, itís about guiding teenagers into adulthood. In the end, isnít that what we want?