There is no greater gift, to those that have dedicated their lives to educating/coaching youth, than for those whom they’ve mentored to acknowledge the impact those educators/coaches had – and continue to have – on their daily lives.
I intentionally combine educators/coaches, as I’ve always believed that the coaches with which I was lucky enough to cross paths were masterful educators. They didn’t just teach us how to play games, but more importantly they taught us how to be successful in the game of life – through teamwork, sportsmanship, respect, persistence, and responsibility. I had the pleasure and honor of recently sharing a meal with Coach Jim Stahl, my high school baseball coach, while he, his lovely wife Shirley, and one of his four granddaughters (Leigha) were visiting Washington, D.C. It’s been 30+ years since we won the 1982 state high school baseball championship, but Coach Stahl continues to have a positive impact on my daily life. (I use “we” loosely, as I spent the majority of the season warming up the right fielder.) Despite my limited role, Coach Stahl spent just as much time mentoring me as he did those with more significant roles. His quest for the best in all of us and the lessons I learned that season continue to guide many aspects of my life – most importantly, in the parenting of my own two children. I’m extremely grateful to have Coach Stahl’s influence in my life and I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to tell him such in person. While educators/coaches are often underpaid, they need not go under appreciated. A simple email – or better yet – a thoughtful handwritten note, can provide something of greater value than the all-mighty dollar. That’s why I’m challenging all of you to reach out, thank your coaches and mentors, and let them know just how much they have made a difference.
Who is the Coach Stahl in your life? What would you tell them if given the chance to thank them in-person?