***I must preface this email with an apology to those friends and coaches that I have not been able to speak with personally about this move or at least send an email. As much as I think I'm technologically savvy, I did not save my contacts in a correct format from Winthrop to Miami! No hard feelings please ***
A promotion, in the coaching profession, is daunting. Yes, a promotion is daunting. Unfortunately, most promotions require leaving a university and years of relationships with administration, staff, coaches, players, boosters, and fans. Because we coach for the kids, I often have a guilty conscious leaving them. There is that special coach/player bond. You get to know them through the recruiting process, when they are just getting out of braces freshman year in high school. As a male coach, we even learn about their prom dress color (oh boy!) and their pet’s name. I received a Christmas text message of one player’s pet cow.
I told her the cow had funny earrings Some players I have known for as many as 10 years (as I coached against them in club even!).
After a few tears upon saying goodbye to players from Winthrop, I’ve been overwhelmed with well wishes from players and their parents. Ultimately, the kids understand this wacky profession and their resilience and kind words help to ease the pain. I do want to share a beautifully crafted and much appreciated email:
“A day or two after hearing the news of your departure, I wanted to send you a message, thanking you for always being there for my daughter. Not only during her days in college, but beginning in the recruitment process and how you have served as an anchor for her.
As you move on to your next job, I will share one small nugget of wisdom from me as a parent.
As parents we see things through our eyes as well as our children's eyes. We benefit from our perspective as well as theirs. As they mature, we hope and pray that the two become one. That the collection of experiences and maturation of values on their part bring their views closer to ours. But we also learn from them, and while perspectives will never really meet, they will move closer together until the day we pass away.
I will confess I will never get to know you as well as my daughter. I will, however, tell you that in you, she saw support, motivation, and never-ending faith in her and her abilities. Whether they are volleyball or personal-related. That meant a lot to her. Maybe you knew that, maybe you didn't. But it meant a lot to us as parents as well.
I don't know if you have it in your plans to become a father or not. And your personal plans may differ from those of God at this time. That's what makes life so much worth living. But I'll tell you this, you bring those lives to this world and you forge them the best you can and hope and pray you leave behind people who are a positive contribution to society, that in them you leave a reflection of your values and your character. You also are vigilant of them the entire time. You let them make the smaller mistakes, so they have built the tools to avoid making the big ones. And, very significantly, you learn to unconditionally love those who love your kids. Thanks for loving mine.
Good Luck and God Bless.”
As a coach, we don’t always recognize the profound impact we play, everyday, on these kids’ lives. Messages like these help to reflect on our character and are an ultimate reward for the soul. I love what I do every day.
There are a few lucky coaches that have been able to remain at program for many years, ala Al Scates (50 years at UCLA), Andy Banachowski (43 years at UCLA), Dave Shoji (38 years at Hawaii), Kathy Gregory (38 years at UC Santa Barbara), Russ Rose (34 years at Penn State), Karen Chisum (33 years at Texas State), Bob Schneck (32 years at Rhode Island), Nina Matthies (30 years at Pepperdine), Nathaniel Denu (30 years at Southern University) and Carolyn Condit (29 years at Miami University). These 10 coaches haven’t had to go through the torment of changing jobs, leaving players, and moving to another school.
Imagine the incredible amount of wisdom and knowledge gained by each of these coaches’ experiences, the deep rooted traditions developed not only for their program, but the entire school, and the penetrating impact these coaches have on their community. How awesome would it be to be associated with these coaches, to learn from them, and grow as a player or coach? Fortunately for me, I am about to embark on a journey to soak up the wisdom and knowledge of one of these great coaches, Carolyn Condit at Miami University.
Yes, I am moving north, back to the cold country. This opportunity is too great to pass up. Coach Condit is the 14th ‘winningest’ coach in Division I volleyball history. She has 100% graduation rate in 33 years of coaching (4 years at Xavier too). She is a 5 time Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year, has taken 7 teams to the big dance, and has numerous teams ranked in the top 25 poll. But WAY beyond these statistics is her true, genuine character. She is one of the most kind-hearted, humble, and caring human beings. Maybe she just has me fooled, but she can’t fool all the coaches and mentors that attest to these qualities.