Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Inside the Quarterbacks Meeting

At our house, football season begins in July. Long before the first game or the first day of practice, Coach goes to work. And so do his QBs. Only, this work doesn't happen on the field. It's in the classroom.

Each year that Coach has worked with the quarterbacks, he's had them come in an hour before everyone else reports for summer workouts in July. It is in these meetings that the QBs build their play books. They literally draw out each play, making note of things like read progressions, drops, etc. This year, these QB meetings have been especially rigorous due to the time constraints. Coach has to teach a brand new offense to his new QBs. And he has four meeting dates before they go to passing camp. And game 1 is only seven weeks away.

I had the privilege of sitting in on one of these meetings last Thursday. That day, there would be no workouts. The team had the day off for the 4th of July. Not the quarterbacks. All three of them were there, right on time, and ready to get the rest of the plays in their books. They know how much they have to learn. They know how important it is. They know on whose shoulders the responsibility rests. You've got to admire high school quarterbacks.

It looks like Coach has a good group of young men to work with. I watched them as they worked during the meeting. I could tell that they are eager to learn and excited about the upcoming season. It doesn't matter to them that Coach came from Woodland or that they barely know him at all. They didn't care that they were in the fieldhouse while their friends were off doing whatever they wanted. They want to win ball games.

I watched Coach teaching those guys. And I know that a few lazy people have given coaches a bad reputation. But, in truth, good coaches are exceptional teachers. They teach all the time. In their classrooms and on the practice field. I enjoyed seeing him show the guys not only what to do but why they do it. I hope they could sense his enthusiasm. I hope they understand that they aren't just Ranburne's quarterbacks; they're his. And he will do everything possible to prepare them and help them be successful, from this point on. If they don't know that yet, they will.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Goes Without Saying...

Saying "goodbye" is hard to do. It's difficult to find a way to say everything you need to say. I've never actually liked the word very much. It hardly does the task that it's appointed to do. But, it's better than saying nothing.

Since word of Coach's move started getting around, people have been saying their goodbyes. It means so much. I know that it's difficult for Bobcat fans to see him go to work for one of their most bitter rivals. I know most of them will never be able to pull for him there. That makes it all the more meaningful when someone takes the time to say "good bye" or "good luck" or "we will miss you".

Coach went to tell the team he was leaving. He had dreaded that moment for days. He waited to confirm any rumors about the move until he could tell the guys face-to-face. He wanted them to hear it from him. He wanted to try and explain this tough decision to them. He wanted to say goodbye. It was a difficult thing for him to do.

It got me thinking about how often we leave things unsaid. One of the first messages I got regarding the new job said, "...it goes without saying that we will really miss him at Woodland" and it might very well go without saying. But it shouldn't. I appreciated that message. Its hard to make a decision that you know many people won't like. She didn't have to send that message, but she did. You should never pass up an opportunity to let someone know what they mean to you, that you appreciate them. Even when you aren't quiet sure how to say it.

Speaking of how to say it, we've already had some good ones. Here are just a few:

"I'm happy if you're happy. I hate it for the kids. You are a coach that cares for the kids."

"Praying all goes well for him...and you."

"Our loss is their gain..."

"Coach will surely be missed by many but I wish you all God's blessing, much support and love during this new chapter! Congrats!"

"It's a time to motivate new players and students. They will no doubt be proud to have you! GO BULLDOGS!"

"Even if the world is burning, I'm still a Coach Bailey fan."

"At least get a black shirt so I don't have to look at you in that dang purple!"

"Best of luck with the change. You will do an awesome job in your new Purple and Gold! I would wear Crimson to support you!"

"You helped make (my son)the man he is today and I mean that. Go to Ranburne and make more (like my son) because it will make this world a better place."

I've said it many times already. Leaving is hard. Saying goodbye is impossible. This community, these people, those kids...they have meant the world to us. And only those of us who have been blessed enough to have been a part of it can truly understand what an amazing community it is. The way everyone rallies around and supports the students, coaches, and the school is unrivaled.

But, as Bella Swan pointed out, "When life offers you a dream so far beyond any of your expectations, it’s not reasonable to grieve when it comes to an end." Or, if you prefer, Dr. Suess's "Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened." So, I'll try not to be sad. But, I cannot go without saying...

Thank you to those of you who have offered your congratulations, love, and support in this new phase of our lives. It says a lot about you as a person and means so much to us. Thank you, Woodland. For the memories, the lessons learned, the love, the support, the commitment to the kids, for letting us be part of your kids' lives.... Thanks for allowing us to be a part of it all.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Next Step

In the Spring of 2001, Coach walked into the Woodland field house to talk to the Bobcat's head coach about volunteering with the team. It was the first step in what has been an eleven-year journey so far. In that time, he learned first how to lose (the Cats went 2-8 in Coach's first year on staff). He learned how to push a team, in the weight room, practice field, classroom, and on game night. He learned how to build a program by working under one of the best in the business. He learned how to prepare. How to deal with difficult situations and disappointments. And he learned how to win.

That same field house became his second home. The coaching staff, his brothers. It's impossible to count the hours he has spent preparing, planning, practicing, and working alongside those guys. The coaches and the athletes were family to him.

But, as in any family, it's time for one of them to move on and see if he can stand on his own. That was always the plan. We didn't move here with the intention of staying forever. He came to Woodland to learn how to be a coach. He came to start a career. And he has stayed much longer than he intended to. He did that, in part, for me. I went back to grad school, and we needed to stay close to the family we relied so heavily upon to make that happen. But, all along, he's kept his goals in mind. Every year, he has interviewed for positions in other places. This past year, he finished second for one head coaching job and missed out on another because they needed a health teacher. He was offered a coordinator position at a 4A school in the spring. After carefully considering that job, he turned it down. It would have been a great opportunity, but it didn't feel right. I think part of him just didn't want to leave.

Two weeks ago, he got another offer. And, I have never seen him struggle with a decision like he did this one. For a week, we discussed and debated and prayed about this opportunity. He talked with numerous coaching friends and weighed his options. We talked with our children. He went back and forth and back again. Finally, Coach called the principal and turned down the job. As soon as he hung up the phone, he felt that he'd made the wrong choice. So he called back.

Tonight, he walked into that same field house to say goodbye to the kids he's watched grow up in front of him. Kids who mean the world to him. The athletes here, they were the biggest part of why he chose to stay so long. You don't find kids like these everywhere. I wonder if they can even comprehend how hard that was for him to make this decision. I hope they can offer him the same love and support he's shown them all these years. And I hope they understand that he is and always will be a Bobcat.

It's time to move on, no matter how hard it is. It's time to take on a new challenge. Its time for him to be able to take steps toward his eventual goals. So, for those reasons, along with many others, when he takes the field this fall, it will be as the offensive coordinator for the Ranburne Bulldogs.

It is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye, but we are excited to see what this new season of life has in store for us.