Every once in a blue moon, someone will pass into your life pathway who just kicks you into a gear of wanting to do your best no matter what.
I am not talking about the obvious people – your parents, your family, your spouse, your grandparents or best friends. This person may not be in your life everyday, but for a season or two he or she is there – encouraging you, motivating you and making you feel like you can do anything – even shoot an arrow from about 70 meters, give or take some.
After a zillion tries, he lets you cheat – or does it for you … by putting the arrow on the target when no one is looking. But that one day, when you do make the target, he hoots and hollers louder than the rest.
That was Coach “McP” for me. Me being a non-athlete and him being an old-school physical education teacher and military man made for an interesting relationship during the semesters that I had him as a professor.
During that time he used a lot of those motivational quotes and metaphors and analogies to get me to work, to get me to sweat and to get me to do what I was supposed to do to pass the classes.
Kenny Chesney wrote a song several years ago called ‘Coach.’ It is a tribute to coaches, and there is a stanza or two that reminds me of Coach McP.
“All those mottoes, all those reasons, all those rhymes … They stay priceless and they come right back … right on time.”
Teamwork. Do what you are supposed to do. Aim for it. Come on, you can do it.
His family went to church with mine, and he drank coffee with my dad and the other men at Hardee’s. For two years, I had the chance to work with him as part of the college football program. It was then that I learned more about him and gained more respect for him than I had before. Talk about dedicated, loyal and he knew everything there was to know about the game.
One day, I was in the press box with Coach when I mentioned that I had always wanted to go on the roof where the other coaches filmed games. He asked me why I had not. I am not sure of the scene and words, but next thing I know he was leading me – with my eyes closed on the roof of the metal building. “Open your eyes, Becky.”
When I did I was awestruck. We got a view of the freshly-cut and painted field. I think I said something about how beautiful everything seemed from up top. The grass appeared to be greener, the sky seemed bluer and the sun seemed brighter.
I can remember Coach smiling at me with a sparkle in his eyes. “See what you would have missed had you let your fear stand in your way?” Courage, he encouraged., will take you places you never imagined you could go. I laughed, and said something like , “Even making a target in archery?”
He grinned and nodded. I lost touch with him and his wife and family. We might have seen each in passing whenever i was home – I don’t remember really.
Six months ago, I had the chance to spend time with them in their home. We talked, we shared, we drank a Yoohoo or two together, we laughed and we just hung out. We talked football and sports metaphors even then. He even laughed at my corny jokes no matter how many times I messed up the punch line.
I was so glad that we had those moments. Even though he is older, and i am older, he still was “Coach.”
Coach McP died on December 10, 2019 surrounded by his sweet family. He is now a coach on God’s team.
There is an old saying that ‘Your life is made up of two dates and a dash. Make the most of the dash.’ Coach made the most of his dash.
Another stanza from Kenny’s song fits perfectly here, “You were a teacher, a preacher, a mother, a father .. a lot less taker than giver … A keeper of secrets and constantly making believers outta quitters. For all of your time, and your heart and your soul .. you deserve a lot more than a toast. But here’s to you, Coach, and thanks. We’ll love you and we’ll hold you in our hearts there with the things that matter most.”
I will never forget you, Coach.