This is an updated version of a post I wrote back in 2016.
My name is Scott. It is what most people call me. I am also called Coach. Many people – players, former players, parents of players, community members –call me Coach because coaching is what I have done for 30+ years. I love being called Coach, as I’m sure many other coaches do. One of the first blog posts that I wrote when I began this blogging journey back in 2015 was called, “My Name is Coach.” It is still one of my most popular posts. (Maybe I’ll recycle that one soon, too.)
I started that post out by saying, “My son, Morgan, calls me, Dad. It is my favorite name that I am called. I love hearing him call me Dad. I also realize that it is the most important name that I am called. While to just about everyone else in the world my name is Scott, I am Dad to Morgan, and I take the responsibility that comes with that name very seriously.” The rest of the post was focused on why I love being called Coach almost as much as I love being called Dad by Morgan.
As today is Father’s Day, I want to focus on being called Dad and how I have felt many similarities between being Coach and being Dad.
I became a dad when I was 40 years old. For close to 20 years prior to that, I had been a coach, but I had not been a dad. As a teacher/coach for all those years, I tried to instill in my kids many of the life lessons my parents had instilled in me and to operate with the mentality of what I felt a parent operated with:
- Create a bond and connection with your kids.
- Instill discipline in their lives.
- Help them find an appreciation for having a strong work ethic.
- Protect them from the harshness of the world, while at the same time helping to teach them how to navigate the challenges that the world will provide.
- Help them learn that mistakes and failure are a part of life, and that it is what you learn from and how you respond to the mistakes and failure that are most important.
- Help them to compete fearlessly, while at the same time teaching them to be polite and respectful.
- Teach them team values to help them in their own lives as teammates, employees, and family members.
- Instill a selflessness and a team-first attitude that will help them in all aspects of their lives.
- Love them unconditionally and show them how much you love them.
I was fortunate that the school where I started teaching and coaching straight out of college was also focused on instilling these lessons. The staff I joined was filled with great teachers and coaches who recognized that our role is to provide kids the type of experience that teaches them much more than subject matter and X’s & O’s. We were there to help these young people become young adults who would go out into the world and become members of society. What kind of members of society they become was up to them, but it was up to us to try to help guide them in a positive direction that led them to become productive, positive contributors to that society.
For all the years I coached prior to becoming a dad, I tried hard to be somewhat of a father figure to my students and athletes. For some of them, I was the adult male figure in their lives from whom they learned the types of lessons I was trying to teach. For most of them, I was an additional male figure in their lives trying to help instill those qualities. I felt I was working in conjunction with my kids’ parents to help raise them to be the best they were capable of becoming.
When I married my wife Lisa, I became a step-father to an 11-year-old girl, Maggie. I was immediately thrust into the role of parent. And yet, as a teacher and coach, I had been training for 18 years for this role.
Of course, being a teacher/coach and being a parent are not the same. There is no actual training that one can receive to prepare for all that parenting entails. But I found myself drawing upon much of my teaching and coaching experience to help me navigate this new world of parenting an adolescent.
When Morgan was born, it was all new, as this was a brand-new human being starting from his first moment of life. I did not teach and coach babies; I was a high school teacher and coach. However, those same values and lessons that my parents instilled in me that I then instilled in my students and athletes were what I drew upon in raising him.
Soon, Morgan was calling me Dadda and eventually Dad. Maggie never took to calling me Dad. When I came into her life, she had been an only child with a single mom for 11 years, so she had never called anyone Dad. I think it felt awkward for her to all of a sudden start calling this man who had only been in her life for a short time Dad. I totally understood that.
But as Morgan began calling me Dad, I experienced an entirely new feeling. I was filled with a joy unlike anything I had ever felt before. At the very same time, I also felt a whole new level of immense responsibility. (And even though he is now 20-years-old, I still feel that same joy and that same responsibility every time I hear him call me Dad.)
But that feeling of responsibility was not completely foreign and new. Of course, I had certainly felt it after becoming Maggie’s step-dad.
But I also felt it the first time I was ever called Coach.
I then felt it every time I was called Coach after that.
I still feel it every time I am called Coach to this day.
Certainly, the responsibility of being a dad is far greater than that of being a coach. And yet, the similarities and the importance of each of them are extremely close and often intertwined for those of us in both roles.
So, as we celebrate this day devoted to being a dad, I encourage all of you who are blessed to be called both Dad and Coach to enjoy each for what it brings to you in your life and to value the importance of the responsibility that each deserves from you. The more you invest in both roles, the more both roles will provide you with great abundance and joy and provide those you lead with the best you have to give them.
Happy Father’s Day!