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During this past year a group of kids had a writing assignment.  They were to write a letter to someone that was influential to them.  I received one of these letters from one of my kids.  He was part of the very first group of boys I worked with.  He thanked me for giving him a shot, for being hard on him and not allowing him to quit.  He said because of that he feels he will be successful in his final two years of high school football.

That made me feel good.  Not in some personal accomplishment, but in the fact that this kid now feels confident enough to reach higher.  It is my hope that this will lead him to other successes in life.

Another kid came in to my office the other day.  This again is a kid from the first group with which I worked.  I’m not going to go in to describe his issue because it is more personal.  We chatted for a little bit and he went on with his day.  I don’t think what I told him will give him immediate relief, but hopefully it will help him down the road.

While working with these kids in a coaching capacity I attempted to stress that they can come to any staff with their problems.  I’m not a shrink, doctor..whatever but if they have a need I can get them to someone who does specialize in that area.  I worked on building a trust relationship with the kids.  I criticized them when needed, encouraged them always and praised them when they earned it.  I don’t feel the coaching relationship should always be one of unearned praise…people need to learn at a young age to handle criticism and take instruction.  I feel that when a coach/mentor/boss/male authority figure heaps on praise it should be duly earned and not something to take lightly.  Now to be clear, I think encouragement and praise are two different things.  You can encourage someone positively without artificially building them up…then when you actually praise them and draw attention to their accomplishment that is the top of the mountain recognition that you can give/get.

In any case, the actions of these boys indicates to me that for at least a couple of my players, the trust relationship was built correctly.  I don’t expect them to form a line outside of my office or burn up my phone looking for advise, but it was a good feeling to see results from seeds I had tried to plant years ago.

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