Sunday October 7th 2018

The “Week of the Coach” as stated by the NCCP finished about a week ago.  I wanted to post something about it to acknowledge all the hard work that our Quebec coaches do in our province to keep the sport going.  And don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of coaches who do just that.  They give up a lot of their free time, put their heart and souls into the sport with little thought of some type of external reward.  I could name all these coaches and I have, but this is not the point of this article.  I instead want to talk about all the hardships that coaches go through.  No one ever sees it because we put on a brave front, but some of these incidents are heartbreaking to say the least.

Coaches will always put on a brave front

A while ago, I was going through a low point in my coaching career.  Without getting into too much detail, I was reminded by one of my own coaches that “Coaching is a thankless job” but he also inferred that that’s not why we do it.  We would hope to get a personal thank-you now and then but we don’t expect the spotlight and we don’t do it for our own gratification.  If you do it for that, then you’re in coaching for all the wrong reasons.  Coaches do what they do because they want their athletes to succeed.  They put their hearts and souls into their athletes and they feel the same hurt, if not more when their athletes don’t succeed.  This hurt can range from minimal to extremely intense. In some ways at it’s most extreme, coaches have often equated their athletes not succeeding to the pain of losing a a loved one.  That’s how much some coaches have invested into their athletes.

Good coaches put their heart and soul into their athletes

So “The Week of the Coach” begins and instead of reading all the publicity jargon that was on the NCCP website, I took this week instead to contemplate my coaching career.  I’ve been a coach now for over twenty five years which basically amounts to both a lifetime and a career at the same time.  I’ve essentially past the eighteen years that I spent as an athlete and it’s safe to say that I’ve left those competing years behind.  I am now coach and no longer an athlete.  In these many years, I’ve had the pleasure to coach some truly exceptional athletes.  Only a few number of coaches can lay claim to that.  As a coach, you want to be implicated in their success and I think it would be safe to say that I’ve had my fair share.  But with success also comes failure.  Sometimes failure hurts so bad that you find it difficult to go on.  To my fellow coaches, how have you managed these feelings of intense feelings which can sometimes border on depression?  How have you moved on?  Sometimes, these feelings are so intense that you forget the good that you’ve done in your coaching career.  But then again, I guess this is human nature as we always seem to come back to our failures rather than our sucesses.  Or maybe it’s just me.

Throughout my years, I’ve had my share of hurt in these areas. I’ve had hugely talented athletes quit on me just when they’re starting to experience some success.  I’ve had athletes that I’ve built from pratically nothing decide to quit and I’ve had athletes that have told me that they no longer want me in their corner any more for tournaments.  All this has taken a toll and one has to wonder how much more can I take?  I’m sure that if I asked any of my fellow coaches, they would have experiences very similar to my own.  To be clear, this is not a cry for pity, nor is it a way to vent my anger.  I instead would like to reach out to all those coaches who have experienced the heartbreak that I speak about and to know that you’re not alone.  Keep fighting the good fight, keep coaching and inspiring your athletes and do your best to never give up.  They say that misery loves company but it’s best not to dwell on it.  Instead I would suggest to treat it just like your competition days and to learn from it and move on.  You also have to know that all coaches have made this very difficult proffesion your vocation, you are not alone.  Hang in there.