The art of coaching

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There are nearly 34,000 head high school track coaches in North America. They work with 1.4 million boys and girls from December to June. Coaches are educators, cheerleaders, confessors, technicians, and life changers.

For most of my life, I have been fortunate to be around some of the finest men and women on this planet. I had some great coaches in high school and college, some who changed my life. My love of the sport, my fascination with the history of the sport and my ability to stay focused came from lessons I learned from the sport and the coaches who I met along the way.

I wrote about Coach Rich Grawer this past year. Mr. Grawer was my sophomore cross country coach and also coach of the DeSmet Basketball team. Mr. Grawer took the BBall team to state and then moved onto Saint Louis University and showed his genius at the highly competitive college level. Mr. Grawer was also my freshman history teacher.

In Mr. Grawer, I recognized how inspiring a coach could be, and also my skills as a historian were honed in that freshman year. Grawer challenged us and encouraged us.

Those lessons in life came back to me after the long jump presser.

I was heading over to say hello to Raina Reider and I noticed him, much quieter than I normally saw him, with a tearful Tianna Bartoletta. Tianna had a tough long jump, taking four jumps to get her marks. In her final two attempts, Tianna got herself into the medals and took the bronze.

Tianna had been so articulate during the first USATF presser and during the LJ presser, I sensed she was struggling a bit. I did not know about the personal maelstrom she was enduring at the time. I made a point of asking her if she realized how amazing her battling back into the medals?

She responded and told the media about her battle on the long jump runway.

But, after the race, it was a few kind words from her coach Rana Reider, that made the difference.

The technique of the long jump can be taught each and every day on the track.

The lessons of life can not be scheduled, where, sometimes, just making it through the day is a victory.

That is where coaching is an art.

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