Why I Coach: Relationships

There are many reasons why I coach. Probably too many to get into all of them. This morning, I had reason to pause and consider one of them while responding to an email from someone I’ve known for over 10 years – and only because of the sport of hockey.

After my freshman year of college I seized an opportunity to work at a hockey camp in Nisswa, Minnesota – Minnesota Hockey Camps. Since that summer, I’ve spent 9 summers in the Brainerd Lakes Area as either a counselor or a coach, coaching, mentoring and working with young people from all areas of the country. Anyone who’s ever spent time at MHC will tell you it’s a very special place filled with special people.

One of the people that I met there is now playing college hockey on the East Coast. We got to know each other through MHC, first working as counselor & camper, then as co-workers at the camp as we aged. When it came time to look at colleges, she asked me for some schools to look at, as she was considering going somewhere out east. I was someone from outside of the normal circles and someone who had experience in other parts of the country. I value the experience of moving away from home and meeting new people, as it was a huge part of my growth and development as a young man and something that I think has immense benefits.

Yesterday, I received an email from her. Last week I ran into her men’s coaches and asked about her and how she was doing. It was so cool to hear how happy she was, how much she was enjoying her experience and she was thankful for my help in finding a college. She has had a good career with a growing program and helped them find new levels of success. To read that email and know that I had an impact on her life is a very special feeling and one you don’t get after a game.

As a coach, you impact many people’s lives on a daily basis but you don’t always truly know the impact of your words and actions. The ability to motivate, inspire and mentor young people is an opportunity and responsibility that coaches have every day and one that is often taken far too lightly. Meetings may only last for 15 minutes, practices for an hour and games for two, but these relationships that we build can last a lifetime.

The impact of that email that I read this morning cannot be understated – it hit me at a time when I needed it most (as these things usually do) and helped to remind me of one of my core values as a coach. Relationships. Building, maintaining and cultivating relationships is at the very core of who I am and what I do. Why do I coach? Because of the email that I see

Why do I coach? Because of the email that I receive from an old friend thanking me for my influence in her life.

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