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Life Lessons

Are You Having an Impact?

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”  ~ William James

April 11, 2009

Of all the comments on the death of Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart, the one by teammate Dustin Moseley deserves the attention of every coach.

Moseley, a pitcher, said, “To see someone lose their life at such a young age takes you out of that bowl you think you’re in and you say, `Tomorrow could be my last day and what kind of impact am I making?’ Nick made a huge impact.”

More than anything else, coaches must make an impact. It’s easy to care about the next score or the current rankings. It’s more difficult — and better — to wonder what kind of effect your athletes will feel 10 and 20 years from now.

Willie Davis, a star with the Green Bay Packers decades ago, became a top businessman after his career. Explaining his success, Davis points to the legendary figure who was his coach.

“Almost every day of my life is impacted by something I experienced or learned or heard from Vince Lombardi,” Davis said. “Everything I do has a little bit of Lombardi in it.”

That’s because Lombardi taught values, not just football. You won’t find anything about football strategy in the following quote:

“Football is like life — it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority.”

Any coach who can make his or her athletes think about that quote is well on their way to having an impact.

Lauren Shears and Kerri Lindenthaler, who coach a youth volleyball team in North Jersey, are giving a season-ending award called  “HEART” — Honesty.Effort.Attitude.Respect.Teamwork. No one can doubt the values those two coaches are trying to instill, and the impact they will have.

Coach Tully’s Extra Point: “Coach: Lessons on the Game of Life” by Michael Lewis explores the impact various coaches have made on their athletes.


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