In my opinion the best thing about being a coach is watching athletes you have worked with achieve their personal goals.
And for me, a few weeks ago I had my proudest moment as a coach.
Just to qualify the depth of this statement I’ve been a coach for 10 years. I’ve directed the NFL combine prep for a 1st round draft pick, coached two guys who ran 4.2 in the 40yd dash, coached the #1 overall recruit in the country, watched a client win the Super Bowl, coached in the BigTen and Pac12, lead a team out of the tunnel at Notre Dame, and been there when a kid got the call telling him he has an All-American.
Nothing, and I mean nothing, compared to this…
I’m at home cooking dinner on a Friday night and my phone rings. I look down and see the name of a guy I’ve coached for four years.
As I looked down at my phone my first thought was “crap, this dude must have gotten hurt.”
I couldn’t think of another reason why he would be calling me from school on a Friday night.
Now, before I get too far into this, let me give you some backstory on this kid…
Cody Wilson is an Offensive Lineman from Ponderosa High School and when I made the transition from coaching at the collegiate level to the private sector Cody was one of my first clients. I started working with him during the summer before his senior year to prepare him for an elite camp at the Air Force Academy. He wanted to improve his testing numbers in hopes of being offered a scholarship, which did not come. We continued to work through his senior year and as the recruiting process unfolded he decided to take an opportunity to walk-on at the University of Northern Colorado.
During the winter and spring of his senior year we trained four times per week and never once did I have to coach his effort. He has always been a self-starter and a blue collar kid who knew that nothing was going to be handed to him.
He had an attitude that he had to earn everything!
Cody went to school earlier in the summer than most other walk-ons so he could get an edge on the rest of the freshmen in hopes of earning his scholarship. Over the course of the next two years Cody worked like crazy to earn his way onto the field and convince the coaches he was deserving of a scholarship. He even saw playing time on the offensive line as a redshirt freshman.
I remember vividly in June of both 2015 and 2016 getting a call from him after his year-end meeting with the Head Coach where he was not awarded a scholarship. Even after exceeding all benchmarks and expectations set out for him.
These conversations are not easy but in this profession you have to be a coach in both good times and bad. My advice always went about like this…
“All you can do is continued to trust the process, work your ass off, and continue to prove yourself.”
And, Cody did…
He trained hard, stayed consistent, and made sure to hold himself accountable.
So, as I answer the phone that Friday night I hear Cody fighting back tears as he says hello.
And again, I’m like “yep, this guy got hurt”
Then he let me know that the Head Coach called him to the office after practice and offered him a scholarship.
Cody had EARNED it.
He showed up every day to train at 5:30AM. Maintained a damn good GPA and is a model teammate.
It didn’t happen overnight. It took YEARS of consistent effort to achieve!
…and that’s what matters.
He set a goal and WORKED to achieve it!
This had nothing to do with the X’s and O’s of my training program, rather, it had everything to do with accountability, work ethic, and Cody knowing that he had to EARN his success.
I think this is a perfect example of how athletics are a microcosm of life…
…nothing will be handed to you; you have to earn your success!
And for me as a coach, if my athletes understand this, then I’ve done my job!