Coach—AND—Mentor

American, playbook, play.

With the 2015 football season in full swing, an earlier post Winning A Life Is More Important Than Winning A Game really got me thinking about how hard a coach works. For the coaches who genuinely care about each player who is under their wing, the job is even more demanding. Following the tragic passing of former UGa player, Paul Oliver, at the age of 29, Coach Mark Richt has proven that his responsibilities for his players goes far beyond the four years they play for this great S.E.C. team. [pullquote]I don’t want this to happen to another one of my boys.” Coach Mark Richt, tearing up and pounding the table during the initial meeting of The P. O. Network[/pullquote] Oliver, a graduate of Harrison High School in our community, went on to play for the Bulldogs and then on to the NFL playing for the San Diego Chargers. Sadly, Paul Oliver took his own life two years ago today, on September 24, 2013. Upon hearing of this tragedy, Coach Richt helped to create The Paul Oliver Network ( The P.O. Network): A core group of Atlanta businessmen—who prefer to remain anonymous—act as mentors to former players.

The end of my football dream was, as it is for almost every prospect, a harsh and slow reality.” Brandon Burrows, the “guinea pig” of The P.O. Network who benefitted greatly from this network of businessmen

Junior football team and coach portrait

The Oliver Tree Foundation on Friday, June 12th, 2015 held their first foundation football camp in honor of Paul J. Oliver at Harrison High School, Kennesaw, GA.

Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 NASB 

The main focus of their football camp is to teach life skills that our youth can take with them throughout their lives to overcome adversity and keep a positive outlook on life.

It is clear to most parents, spouses, players, and even fans that coaches of all sports, many times, play the role of not only coach, but also father (or mom, for the many female coaches!) and mentor. And, my goodness, the time invested in preparing for games and practices is difficult to comprehend.

Let’s remember how hard coaches work. You’re not only a coach, but you’re a father figure. You’re a mentor. Sometimes you have to be a psychologist. You’ve got to be there 24/7 for these young men—who they’re dating, their parents, their cellphone, because you’re their first line of communication.” Greg McGarity, UGa Athletics Director 

While it’s a known fact that most players need to be coached well, on Saturday, September 12, 2015 during a contest with East Carolina, Coach Jim McElwain, Head Coach of University of Florida Gators clearly took it too far when player, Kelvin Taylor made a mistake by exaggerating his cut-throat gesture following a touchdown. Telling his player to be a f—-ing man, in my opinion, his hateful gestures spoke much louder than his words.

Actions speak louder than words.” Mark Twain 

Coach McElwain went too far with his berating. Read here and see what you think. Just watch this coach’s mannerisms in this quick Youtube Video. Kelvin’s teammates’ expressions speak volumes, as well…

ALL players need Mentors and Coaches.

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This past Father’s Day, UGa player Isaiah McKenzie gave Coach Mark Richt a nice Dad’s Day shout—out by thanking him for being a father figure in his life and in the lives of many others. Another UGa player, a friend of my friend, Ryan B., Arthur Lynch openly talks about Coach Richt being a father figure for him, as well.

Coaching Word Cloud

Kudos to all coaches…

men and women,

coaches of children, teens, young adults,

and beyond.

Take time to say “THANKS”  to a coach today.

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