Imagine being Nodar Kumaritashvili’s coach! Nodar is the young luge athlete from the Republic of Georgia who was involved in a fatal accident at the 2010 Winter Olympics yesterday. How would you process these moments during your life? As we have thought about failure, the above picture has caught our attention such as it is similar in posture to previous posts. It does not represent failure as much as grief and shock. One young athlete with so much enthusiasm for doing well at the world’s greatest sports venue has his life taken from him. This picture portrays his father, David Kumaritashvili, sharing a private moment with Nodar’s friends outside his home in Georgia. What would you say to them? What answers can a coach, who is supposed to have all the answers for his/her athletes, give during a tragic event like this? It is at these moments that a coach does not have the answers but must trust in the ONE who does. As finite beings, we are limited in our knowledge and understanding, but, in this kind of difficult circumstance, answers do not come through having knowledge; instead, these are moments of truth when we must trust instead of trying to have an “answer.” Not discounting knowledge of our sport, let’s also be coaches who live out our faith so that we can be there for our athletes in times of tragedy and loss.
Well, here is another week of a head coach using his authority to make a decision that affects his starting quarterback. This week may have had a historical impact in lieu of a perfect season possibility. It is amazing to hear after the game that a quarterback is on the same page is this decision compared to other events that have happened this season. At least this what Peyton Manning said. As a head coach, one of the greatest responsibilities is always to the bigger picture even when one’s own fans get upset and mad. A coach is to be greatly respected when his decision to prepare a team for the playoffs and save players from injury instead of have a perfect season is for the greater good and more important that even history. Losing the game might even show forth the need of backups having more time and experience. A coach can make a decision but the team must follow his leadership in order to maintain unity and focus. In Minnesota, we have seen recently a lot of questions follow a coach who “tried” to make a decision and was overruled by a quarterback. Authority of the head coach will always be an issue on a team whether it is with players, parents, or fans. The philosophy of this authority and who is in charge must be settled before a difficult time comes up or anger, confusion, and questioning can result. It will be very interesting to watch in the coming days to see how things will unfold in both camps.
It has been said that 2 of the most famous words in sport are “Coach says” and our culture bears this out. The admiration for a coach has grown to the point where a coach is quoted more than a parent. Coaches have replaced the parent as the one individual with the most influence over an athlete’s individual life. The influence of a coach leaves an imprint upon an athlete for life. A word from the coach’s lips reaps lasting results either for the building up or for the detriment of a person. The gravity of this position is that it can never be taken back once it leaves one’s mouth. One’s words either speak “life” or “death” and we must realize that what we say and how we say it go hand in hand. Speaking at the right moment shows true wisdom and “shutting up” to listen comes with the many years of coaching legacies that speak beyond one’s years as an actual coach. Let it be said of all who step onto the athletic field of competition that their particular coach was one who put a torch in their life to shine out for excellence and character that moved beyond that field and into their own personal life. Besides, what else is there to coaching? Trophies are great but they can get dusty. A life with great influence to build up others leaves a legacy!