Humbled Again

I think I am pretty decent at helping athletes and coaches find their potential.  I have studied hard for many years and will continue to do so forever.  I have worked at levels and with athletes I only dreamed about not too long ago.  Yet on an almost daily basis I am humbled.  I might be particularly humbled today.

Some days, I think I have “great” ideas.  Today I finished reading Run to the Roar and was reminded how few (if any) of my “great” ideas I can take full ownership over.  Coach Paul Assaiante is the winningest coach in collegiate sport’s history (perhaps winningest coach ever).  he is also my friend, mentor, and coach.  In Run to the Roar he lays himself and his coaching open for all to see – warts and all.  It is amazing, educating, and inspiring.  It truly is a book with something for everyone.  He’s a squash coach but this is a story of humanness, community, family, and the search for excellence.

I graduated from Trinity College 14 years ago.  To this day, Paul Assaiante’s teachings and spirit are stamped on my work.  It is possible that every single one of the workshops I give to anyone in sports includes at least one Assaiante-inspired idea.  So much for being original!  Perhaps I’ve found the science behind his pedagogy and some day’s I’ve changed the words a bit… but still some days not too original…

A skeptic may read Run to the Roar and say, “Of course he can coach this way when he has talented athletes and wins national championship after national championship.  He could get away with doing anything he wanted.”  These would be words of someone struggling to trust the true path to athletic excellence.  The proof…. he was my coach… and I do not have a single championship ring to show for it.  In reading Run to the Roar, I see and hear the same exact coach that led my Trinity College tennis team.  A winning team, a successful team, but certainly not a national championship team.  Under his tutelage I won matches I had no business winning and for a moment or two felt I had almost as much kinesthetic intelligence as my brother had in one of his limbs (he was a scholarship tennis player while also being a frighteningly gifted distributor of the soccer ball).  Coach took a team of misfits (frat boys, Deadheads, meterosexuals, snotty preppies, and lost souls) and made them respected competitors.  “Overachiever” is an overused word, we went from good recreational players to competitors that would leave all opponents feeling the pain of playing us win or lose (I once lost a match 1-6, 1-6 but it took 2 hours for the opponent to put such a lopsided score onto the board).  Win or lose, Coach coaches for character and victory.  It is just a bit easier to get published on tales of winning… lots.

I am even humbled in my efforts at humbleness.  Coach A (along with my family) had a big hand in modeling this habit for me.  You will see it.  In his relentlessly self-effacing style, he shares his “stuff” with the world.

Someday, I may find one or two ideas to truly call my own.  Until then, humbled is o.k.  Thanks Coach for sharing with me and now with the world.  I hope all can find someone similar to you to inspire their “unoriginal” ideas.

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