The Good Stuff: Sportsmanlike Conduct Pt. 2

Yesterday, I shared the Good Stuff story from the Cory-Rawson/Van Buren football game. Today’s Good Stuff also comes from high school sports, but it isn’t football, and it doesn’t have much to do with the players.

Whether it was watching my brother play, being on teams myself, or supporting my wife or brother-in-law in their coaching careers, I’ve been around high school sports most of my life. Something that often gets lost in the wins and losses is the amount of work that coaches put in. The truth is that nobody, no matter how many wins they stack up, is getting rich coaching a high school sport. They do it for the love of a game, and for the passion they have for helping kids reach their potential.

I’ve heard stories of parents calling coaches on personal time, showing up at practice, and appallingly, knocking on coaches’ front doors, and it just floors me. That’s why I believe that the only thing any parent should ever say to any coach at any level is “Thank you.”

They’re not machines, they’re humans who carry their own baggage just like the rest of us. Hopefully, they’re surrounded mostly by supportive communities, or in the case of today’s Good Stuff, a supportive competitor. Here’s a note that was sent to me this week:

I coach junior varsity girls soccer at Findlay High School. We field a strong, competitive team consistently. One of the other schools in our league struggles, and we beat them every year by a large margin. One thing we have always noticed is the wonderful sportsmanship that their team and coach exhibits at the JV level, despite being on the losing side of the game. Last year, my full time goalkeeper played forward during that game and when she finally scored a goal (her first in 6 years or so) the other team’s players clapped and cheered for her.

This year, we noticed that they had a young new JV coach and she was very encouraging to her team, constantly coaching them and giving words of encouragement from the sideline throughout the game. After the game, we went through the good game line and I shook her hand and told her that I wanted to commend her on the sportsmanship her girls exhibited and to let her know that I noticed her effort on the sideline.

Her eyes filled with tears and she told me that one of the parents from her team had come over after the game and yelled at her and told her she was a terrible coach. Before I could respond, my team circled back after shaking hands with the referees and saw the opposing team’s coach in tears. One of my captains immediately stepped up and gave her a hug, which was followed by my entire team, all 17 of them, giving this coach a group hug and telling her they thought she was great and to “ignore the haters.” My own eyes filled with tears, and I’ve never been more proud in my life. Sure, we just won a league game, but more than winning, my girls exhibited the true definition of sportsmanship. Despite all the great things we accomplished on and off the pitch, that was my favorite moment from the season.

A group of young women on a junior varsity team were mature enough to see beyond the scoreboard to the human that was hurting, and they stepped in with a heaping helping of The Good Stuff.

If you have a Good Stuff story, share it with me here. The Good Stuff happens each weekday at 7:50, and it’s always presented by LaRiche Toyota Subaru on the corner next to Best Buy in Findlay.