By: Michael Sanchez
When I decided to help coach the flag football team at Trevista at Horace Mann, I knew it was going to be a rollercoaster ride. After two months of doing service and building relationships with my students, I felt I could make a greater impact with these students on and off the field. I assumed that every team always had its difficulties and conflicts that the coach would try to resolve. The part that blindsided me was the reality that the conflict would involve me.
When we first started with the team, we created a goal; To make the playoffs! It started as a struggle, but I felt as though the first game would help resolve those difficulties. We actually lost our first game by two points, but I thought we were making progress with the team dynamic. On a Monday practice, the team was doing so well, we decided to do a scrimmage at the end to have a little fun. The students wanted the coaches to play as well, so I put all my personal items next to our football bag. When practice ended, my wallet was missing.
After realizing my wallet was gone, I started thinking about how my wallet could be missing. Did I leave it in the office? Did I leave it in my backpack? Finally, reality set in… someone on my football team STOLE my wallet. Having one of my own football players steal my wallet was such a farfetched concept that I never thought of it as a possibility, not after all of the time I’d spent with them as a coach and mentor. Still, it happened.
Regardless of my feelings of resentment, disappointment, and frustration, I had to make a decision to continue my work, to continue coaching the team and try to hide my emotions. To this day I am still upset about the wallet situation, but I can’t let my emotions get the best of me. I do not want to be another person who leaves them because they upset me, to be another number to their count of how many people have left them because it was too hard. I choose to stay because I made a commitment to the students to improve their attendance, behavior, and their course performance. After I took up coaching, these students started coming to school more often just to come to practice, started behaving better and completing more of their coursework because they knew if they didn’t, they wouldn’t play. I realized through coaching that I am making a difference with these fifteen kids, and I love every minute of it.
After losing the first game, we won our next four games. By not only winning our last four games to make the playoffs accomplishes our goal, but also it also helped me succeed in building the relationship with students that go far and beyond in the classroom. Before we won our last game this past Friday, I told the team, “If we win today like we know how, we will be in the playoffs! And if we win in convincing fashion, I will let the team dump the Gatorade on me!”
After winning the game, let’s just say I was pretty cold and started to smell like Gatorade.