by Travis Edelen
This is a story about a young coach who loved football more than anything in life and would give up everything just to see his brothers succeed with their careers.
From the moment he opened his eyes and started his day, until he closed them for the night – which was rarely ever – this young coach spent his time trying to find the next answer for his players and their careers.
At times, he would become flustered and overwhelmed with his search due to not managing his time properly. The young coach would always make the comment to his players, ‘We need ten more hours added to the day and I’ll be fine,’ but as we all know, that isn’t possible. So, the young coach made the most of the time and day that he could.
With all of the hard work and relentless efforts from the young coach, he found himself facing more failures than successes, but what more do you expect from a young coach that had no training, no college degree, not even so much as a high school diploma?
Still, the young coach would not take “no” as an answer.
He would even go as far as to thanking everyone who ever told him that without the high school diploma, the college degree, or any training, he’d never be able to live up to the promise that he made to his players, which was to get them to the next level “come hell or high water.”
However, that was promise he kept, even exceeded.
It was late in the month of July, during a routine practice where the young coach was working with the defensive backs of his team, when he found his true strength and inspiration. The sun was blazing down on everyone on the field and the humidity was starting to take its effect on the young coach – especially after not sleeping at all for the previous two days – and it was showing among all of the players, too.
After running through some routine drills to help the DBs get loose for practice, the young coach called everyone up for a quick water break. As his players went to the sidelines to quench their thirst, the young coach squatted down and put his head in his hands, thinking to himself, ‘What’s the next move for me to move these guys?’
About that time, one of the newer members of the team approached the young coach with a water bottle and offered a drink. As he took the water, the player asked if the young coach was ok and stated that he could tell something was bothering him.
As the ice cold water showered down his dried throat, the young coach tried to think of the proper answer to give to the player, but couldn’t come up with anything to say but the truth.
“Yeah, I’m ok buddy, just tired of running into dead end after dead end when it comes to moving you players to the next level,” he said.
After saying it, he wondered if he had just made a mistake by telling his player this, but then the one thing that the young coach never expected happened. His player put his hands on the young coach’s shoulders, pressed his forehead to the young coach’s, looked him deep into the eyes and said:
“You’ve got this coach. We give you 100 percent every day and I know you’ll do the same. Never give up coach, never quit and never stop chasing your dreams.”
About that time, the head coach blew the whistle, calling for all players to come to the center of the field for a quick announcement, before starting the team practice. The young coach found himself standing there in shock.
He asked himself, “did one of my players just give me the advice that I’m supposed to give him”? With a tear in his eye, the young coach approached the team, which were all on a knee and asked the head coach if he could say a quick word to the team.
The young coach turned to the team and cleared his throat. All of the small chatter ended and all eyes were locked onto him.
With pride in his eyes, the young coach simply told the players, “If you give me 100 percent, then I promise to give you 100 percent and I will move you to the next level! Now, let’s go be great together!”
That was the moment that the greatest story from a developmental coach began.
The players took that vow to heart and began preforming like no other team. Days would come that would be unfit for practice due to weather, but this did not stop the players nor the young coach.
Arrangements were made for the team to use an indoor facility on days like this, and with no surprise, the majority of the team would attend these voluntary practices inside of a facility that had no air conditioning, not even a water fountain. Not even that would stop the players and the young coach from keeping their promises to one another.
The young coach soon found himself in a competition with his players. For every accomplishment that a player made – whether it be shaving a few seconds off of their 40-yard dash time or being able to do two more reps of bench press – the young coach had to match it by gaining access to another professional team or setting up another tryout for his players.
The young coach would shout to his players as they pushed a 45-pound plate across the uneven turf, “Push through it, don’t quit on me.” As the last player crossed the finish line, one of the players would always tell the young coach, “It’s your turn coach, don’t quit on me.”
As they got deep into the season, the young coach realized the players weren’t the same players from July. Of course, they had all progressed tremendously from all of their hard work that was fueled by that promise. However, they were no longer concerned about just their own success, but the success of their brothers beside them. They had become an unbreakable brotherhood that wasn’t going to settle for second place and they had the ultimate goal in sight: a championship.
With the way the team had come together, there wasn’t anything that would stand between them and their goals. The young coach watched his team grow into one unit and the rest of the league saw it as well.
Without any planning or direction from a coach or front office member, the players would lock arms and go out for the coin toss. Traditionally, teams normally send three or four players to the center of the field for the coin toss, but not with this team.
The young coach was standing with his back to the sidelines during the coin toss for a game that what would go down as one of the greatest ever. While standing there watching the opposing team send their captains out to center field, the young coach heard a familiar voice calmly say, “Excuse me coach.”
The young coach turned around to see the greatest thing he had ever seen in person, it was as if he was standing in the middle of a movie set of a Hollywood movie. The young coach looked at 65 players standing side to side, arms locked and approaching the center of the field for the coin toss.
As the young coach stood there speechless over what was happening, all fears, thoughts and nervousness left him and he knew without question, his team would win that game.
As time expired, the young coach watched that same player who told him to never give up, stretch out and block what would have been the game-winning field goal. The roar from the sidelines was so loud and explosive that the young coach felt the vibration from the jumping and cheering in his chest.
Overwhelmed by everything that just had come to pass, the young coach dropped to his knees and bowed his head, then opened his eyes to see a pair of muddy cleats in front of him. It was that same defensive back that had just blocked the field goal. He kneeled down, put his forehead to the young coach’s and said:
“We got this coach, you’re giving me 100 percent and I just gave you 100 percent. Never give up on our dreams, coach”.
It had been almost a year now that the defensive back said that to the young coach the first time and things couldn’t be any better. The team has won nine consecutive games and is on track to play for the league championship, having played a season that will go down in history as one of the best ever.
As for the young coach, he must end this article because his eyes are wide open right now as he looks at the San Francisco 49ers call his phone to discuss bringing his players in for training camp.