Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Excellence Runs Deep

The "Let's Win" Competition
It was a calm and slightly cool afternoon today as I took great pride in returning after 14 years to a school where I had coached varsity soccer to see one of my former players coach her team in the CIF Playoffs. While I can't claim responsibility for her great knowledge of the game, I was just simply happy to see her success and hoped maybe one thing I said or did contributed to her being able to be there for her girls. At half-time, I checked my phone for any news, and there was - that my first football coach had passed away.

It has been a very fortunate blessing that San Bernardino, California has been the home of some excellent coaches in many sports. Who I am - and similarly true for countless others - is a reflection of what these good people have bestowed out of little more than the love of the game and love of other people. Gary Porter taught me discipline and dedication. John Hague taught me sportsmanship and professionalism. Robin Goodman taught me courage and toughness. Rich Imbriani taught me intensity and determination. Chuck Pettersen taught me motivation and how to be a champion.

One of our weekly "team books" given each Monday
Coach Pettersen, or "Coach P", only coached me for one season - his last at Cajon High School - during 1990, and as a kicker, the majority of practice time was spent away from the rest of the team. However, he made an impact on me as an athlete (and later as a coach) like no other. I was fifteen years-old, and for the first time in nine years playing sports, I learned how passion and excellence were two things that were uniquely integral in winning at a high level. What he delivered to his teams was not just a road map for victory or intense physical training. Coach P taught us to care for what we were doing and whom we relied upon as teammates. He created an atmosphere in which we could thrive and an expectation not only that winning was possible, but it was a necessary part of life. We did win a league championship that year, but perhaps more important to me, he taught me how to win.

The strange thing about coaching is that you never really know the impact that you make. You can count the wins and the losses. You can count the playoff appearances and league championships. However, the little things you strive to impart to the integrity of another human may always remain a mystery; one can only be proud of what we all managed to achieve together. At least, among other things, our coach can rest in peace knowing that there are scores of men who grew up knowing that "Better is Best", one should always strive to "Be Somebody", and "Excellence Runs Deep."

Oh yeah... Let's Win.
After my last game of my first season coaching - at Cajon

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