Michelle DeRoche, Contributing Writer
Many athletes have learned some basic life skills at a young age from their coaches. The importance of coaching and the influence coaches have on many people’s lives goes unnoticed much of the time. As anyone who has played sports at any age can attest, a coach can either make or break a team. Through good coaching, athletes can become stronger in their sports and also learn valuable life skills. At a young age, they get to hear adults other than their parents cheer them on and affirm that they can achieve much.
Meghan Falconer and Anthony Campise both agreed that their coaches had an impact on their successful athletic performance, as well as their successes in other areas of life.
Falconer, a runner since sixth grade, said her high school coach, Jurss, always pushed her team to give 110 percent.
Falconer said that for Jurss, athletes “really caught his attention and earned his respect by giving it all they had every practice and every race. He acknowledged everyone’s successes, whether they were the fastest on the team or the slowest.”
Campise, a tennis player since seventh grade, said his high school coach focused on consistency, especially with his ground strokes, volleys and serves.
“Consistency was key to winning in tennis,” said Campise, “and a lot of times that meant sacrificing the power or flashiness of my shots, so that I could just keep the ball in play and provide the best chance of winning the point.”
These life lessons are difficult to learn, and sports gave Falconer and Campise ideal opportunities to start practicing these habits.
In general, sports teach athletes to do things they do not always feel like doing or do not completely understand. Because of this, athletes must learn to trust that their coaches know what they are doing.
Falconer said that her coach’s method of insisting that the athletes on the team wear matching uniforms and accessories seemed extreme at times, but he was teaching the importance of team unity. Her coach’s reasoning was, “We are a team. We train as a team, we compete as a team, we lose as a team and we win as a team.”
Campise said his coach used to make his players spin around after hitting every shot.
“I would get really dizzy and nauseated after the drill, but it made my game better by helping me get into the habit of establishing my balance before hitting a shot.”
When asked what the most important qualities were to have in a coach, Falconer said wisdom, in the sense that they know “sports [are] not everything.” She also said, “I need a coach who loves helping young people set near-impossible goals and then reach them with perseverance and fortitude.”
Campise listed many key qualities: “patience, motivation, staying positive, being able to provide constructive criticism, having experience in the field, being flexible and willing to take the extra effort and time to work with the players.”
I encourage you to reach out to the many coaches in your own life. Coaches’ hard work and influence in many people’s lives is often overlooked, and it is time that they are acknowledged.