Tuesday, August 17, 2010


“…respect those that lead you…” -1 Thess. 5:12

Good coaches are worth their weight in gold! Their involvement in the life of our kids is so crucial. Especially with junior high and high school kids still forming their fragile self-images, coaches have such potential to have a positive effect on a teenager’s confidence.

The heat of August always reminds me of one thing: two-a-days! For those who played serious high school football in Texas or anywhere else, the frantic preparation for that first fall game is well underway. And it brings back memories of my favorite coaches and what made them so memorable to me all these years later.

Steve Chevereau was my coach freshman year in high school. He was in charge of the linebackers and I can remember he was tall and loud. But mostly I remember his interaction with us off the field. During breaks and after practice he didn't run to the coaches’ office (I always wondered what they did in there anyway?), but he mingled with the players. He made us feel like we were worth more to him than just football.

My sophomore year, Jimmy Johnson was my coach. Much like “Remember the Titans,” Terrell High School, located in the urban part of Fort Worth, shut down and the kids from that school transferred to Arlington Heights, a mostly all-white school. They hired Coach Johnson from Terrell to bridge the gap. He did a masterful job making us all feel valued.

My junior and senior year, Merlin Priddy took the reigns as the head coach of the varsity. I was the fourth Staples boy to play under him and he always called me “little Staples.” He wore the classic elastic coaches shorts and chewed tobacco constantly, and he was a great coach. I was a fair football player and he got every ounce of my talent out of me by pushing to be all I could be. “Joey, it’s time to get going,” he would say as he pushed me along.

At Baylor, my soccer coach was Telmo Franco, and I remember he was fairly gentle and accommodating. His style was not loud and boisterous, but calm and gentle. He let the players play and we felt relaxed on the field.

One of the greatest coaches I know is my wife, Jeanie, who has faithfully coached kids in gymnastics for over 25 years. The emails and letters that she receives from past students testify to her ability to love kids as she coaches them.

Whether intramurals or varsity, coaches play such a huge part in the life of our kids. Much like teachers, our kids encounter coaches that click with their personalities and others that don't click. Of course, as parents we don't click with some coaches either. Baring the need to confront them over some serious issues, we parents should leave them alone.

I know too well that sick feeling that comes with a coach not recognizing the potential in your child or a coach not understanding your child’s needs. But face it, no one knows your kids better than you do. And your teen needs to learn how to deal with adversity by himself.

So, encourage and praise your child’s coaches, even if they wear those elastic coaching shorts!

By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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