GUEST BLOG: "Why Do I Coach Football?" by Scott Hansen
Coach Scott Hansen has contributed a guest blog on a topic that will resonate with all coaches. As most of us are in the middle of summer workouts and looking towards the beginning of Fall camp, this is a good time to reflect and recharge prior to the grind.
Scott Hansen is an Assistant Coach at Hinsdale South High School in Darien, Illinois. Coach Hansen was a SBV QB at Downer's Grove North High School in Downer's Grove, Illinois. Scott will tell you more about his background in his blog.
WHY DO I COACH FOOTBALL?
My relationship with football has been complicated. It was not love at first sight. I can remember hosting a birthday party when I was in grade school. A bunch of my friends were playing football in my backyard, but I was goofing around with another kid off in the distance. I can distinctly remember responding to my parents’ suggestion, in regard to football, “I don’t want to join in.” That opinion would soon change.
My dad was instrumental in getting football and me together. Games were on our television. He played in a flag league and brought me along on game day. We played catch in the backyard. By the time I was in fifth grade, I was involved in the local Pee Wee tackle football program. The relationship was relatively casual at first. I spent my first year on an intown team playing positions that I wasn’t really crazy about, but at least I was playing. For the next three years, I was the starting quarterback on the travel squad. If I wasn’t satisfied with how I played on game day, then I’d go out in the backyard and recreate the whole experience by myself. I began to fall in love.
By the time I got to high school, the relationship had blossomed into more than casual, but I still spent time with other sports. It wasn’t until my junior year in high school that I lost the title of “3-Sport Athlete.” I broke up with baseball after a 10-year commitment. I missed a year of basketball due to a football injury but ran track to make up for it. Varsity football became my obsession. Though I only started as a senior, I gave my life to the game the year before. There was no looking back.
Though I was not the most physically talented, I was the only member of my graduating class to play football at the next level. It was NAIA ball, but I loved it. My career was nothing special. I spent five years in a fully committed relationship that had its ups and downs, but I never threw in the towel. At the end of my college career, however, I left the game on bad terms. Our team was never very good, and my body was destroyed. I wanted little to do with the game aside from watching it on television and via the Playstation or other gaming consoles. I still loved the game; I just didn’t want to put everything into it anymore. A few traumatic life experiences caused me to reevaluate my life. I attended a game at the high school from which I graduated. After one step back onto the sideline, I decided I wanted more.
I did a little digging, got a little help from a friend, and ended up on the freshman staff at the high school from which I graduated. I made the decision that I still wanted to be a part of the game that had given me so much. During the five years I spent at my alma mater, I had the opportunity to coach on each level. I learned that I didn’t know as much about the game as I thought I did. I also learned that my original agenda was more selfish than it should have been. During this time, I started playing in a local flag league. My obsession returned, but it was self-serving. Within a few years, I was putting the pads on again and playing minor league ball. A major injury finally put an end to my playing career. I like to think it was God’s way of telling me that I had squeezed everything out of the game that I could for myself. It was time to share it with others; it was time to give back. Again, it was time to reevaluate.
The time came for me to move on from my alma mater. After one year as a lower-level coach with another program, I was fortunate to get my first real job as a varsity position coach. Everything that I learned from coaches for whom I had played and with whom I had coached allowed me to begin cultivating my personal coaching philosophy. I was no longer a football player who also coached. I was now a football coach.
My philosophy began to manifest itself. Love the game. Teach; don’t criticize. Forge relationships with players and fellow coaches. Prioritize. Model your expectations. Remember that football is just a game. Winning is a process, not a product.
This month, I began my tenth year as a coach. Looking back, I have taken bits and pieces from each of the five programs of which I’ve been a part. I’m now blessed to be a Varsity Quarterbacks Coach, a job that I have wanted for some time. True to form, the past ten years have given me an opportunity to reevaluate yet again. So, I ask myself the following question: Why do I coach football?
1. I love the game.
Nothing against other sports, but there is nothing like football. No game more closely mimics life. Preparation is always more important than the final result. Individual success is dependent upon others. Hard work does not guarantee success, but lack of hard work all but guarantees failure. Adversity is inevitable, and it needs to be overcome with perseverance. Opportunities to cheat and cut corners are all around, but are they worth it? Details matter.
2. I want to share the game with others.
All a coach really does is help someone get to a place to which he cannot get on his own. Few things are more rewarding than seeing a young man with more talent than I ever had accomplish more than I ever did with a little bit of my advice. I want the player who thinks the game is alright to like it. I want the player who likes the game to love it. I want the player who loves the game to treat it right. If I had the cure for cancer, then I’d share it with everyone. That’s how I feel about this game.
3. I want to touch the lives of young men.
This one took some time but, as they say, better late than never. To this day, my greatest accomplishment as a coach is the amount of current and former players and coaching colleagues I have in the contact list of my cell phone. I take those relationships very seriously, and my players know that just because I’ve stopped coaching them on the field doesn’t mean I’ve stopped coaching them in life. Any guy I’ve coached with knows that I’m always there if he needs me. More than one coach has made a difference in my life. I simply want to do the same for others.
4. There’s always something to learn.
As with our players, there is always an opportunity to get better at something.If you’re not going forward, then you’re going backward. Making yourself a better coach makes the young men whom you coach better players. There’s a fine line between open-mindedness and gullibility. Being open to change doesn’t mean that you have to change. At the end of the day, I want to do right by the young men I coach. Likewise, respectfully challenging your colleagues makes your staff better. If you’ve always done something one way, does that mean it should always be done that way? Is there a better way? Improvement starts with change.
5. I’ve been called to coach.
How many people can say that they are doing what they love for a living? How many people can say that they are using their God-given ability to serve others and having fun doing it? Well, I can. I believe that each yesterday in my life has prepared me for each today, and each today is preparing me for each tomorrow. Some people have to go to the office every day. Some people have to grind it out just to put food on the table. I get to coach. I’m blessed.
My hope would be that your top five sounds eerily similar to mine. I don’t say that because I’m arrogant; I say that because we coaches are generally cut from the same cloth. Don’t get me wrong. I love the feeling that I get on a Friday night. I love to compete. I love to win. I enjoy getting paid for what I do. I like the status that comes from my title. Those things would be easy to add to the list. They were probably on my list five years ago. They don’t make the list today, though.
Coaches, I encourage you all to come up with your own top five list for why you coach this great game. You may already have it in mind. If you have it in mind, then put it on paper. Put the paper on your mirror. Read it every day. Just as it’s easy for our players to lose focus when the wheels start to fall off, the same is true for us if we’re not careful. We all need to get back to the basics at some point.
Remember why you do what you do. Let it show through your thoughts, words and actions. When you’re in the last week of summer camp, remember why you do what you do. When you’re 0-4 heading into week five, remember why you do what you do. When you lose the game that would have put you in the playoffs, remember why you do what you do. Believe me, everyone else will.