Jack Welch

JACK WELCH From the Bleachers

Wins, wins and more wins. When I ask people, “Who are the greatest coaches?” I hear astonishing win-loss records. Or I hear about a coach who has been at a tradition-rich school.

I agree with most of the names I hear, but there are other coaches who will never receive due credit for doing a great job. How about the coach at a tradition-poor school? Just to field a team was an extraordinary feat.

What is not written about very often is the coach that changed lives, taught great life lessons, saved students from making bad decisions, but lost most of their games. There are some great coaches that never have a winning season. These stories are seldom heard.

Regardless of the coach, there are some schools that do not have what it takes to win. Maybe their competition is loaded with great talent. Maybe the history of the community and school district is not good and the better players have gone to other districts. Regardless of the reasons, some of the best coaching is done at these schools.

Take notice of the Tweets and Facebook posts when a coach steps down. Rarely does the message say anything about wins. The text usually explains how much the coach meant to them.

Recently, I read an article about a coach at a small school district. This coach started the football program. The school did not have a practice football field or track.

The coach asked a neighboring farmer if the school could use part of his adjacent pasture as a football practice field. The farmer smoothed a patch of land and planted some seed during the spring. By August, there was a place to practice.

The high school did not have many students, and the district was extremely poor. In the next 18 years, the school fielded a team each season. They played their games in the outfield of the baseball field. Their won-loss record was 28-102. Their best won-loss season was 3-7.

When this coach retired, the gymnasium overflowed with former players, families and friends. One after another spoke about how great this man was. The former players gave example after example of how this man helped them learn life lessons.

Three years after the coach retired, the football program was dropped because of lack of participation. Did the former coach have a winning record? In the lives of his players, he was a big-time winner.

Next time someone posts a negative comment on social media to complain about a high school coach, stop and think about what you know about the person. What does that coach do for the players when no one is looking? What are they doing for the player who cannot afford shoes or does not have food? What about the youngster who has no ride home after practice? How about the player who only has his coach to hold him accountable in the classroom? What life lessons are the players on this coach’s team being taught?

Thought for the week, “The lesson you teach today is not confined to the walls of your classroom. Once it is implanted in the heart and mind of young people, it can change the world.” Tracy Welch, Head Football Coach/Athletic Director, Lake Worth High School.

Jack Welch grew up in Osawatomie. He holds a Doctor of Education degree and has been a college and high school football coach for 39 years.

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