My good friend is laying in a hospital. He’s been at that same hospital for over a month now. The doctors have done amazing work and we have hope. We pray. And that’s all we can do.
I’ve coached lacrosse with Matt for the past six years and I’ve taught and worked at the same school with him for the past seven years. He joined me as an assistant coach when both of us had no idea what we were doing. I remember looking over at Matt our first season and just shaking my head…we finished with two wins that year, but something amazing happened along the way.
In our first year coaching together we had a group of 7th graders who were very talented. Many of them played up against bigger players and tougher competition, and they lost a lot of close games. I was discouraged. I don’t like losing, and we had potential with this team. But Matt said something to me, “We’ve just got to keep building with these guys. They don’t realize how good they can be yet. And we are getting better.”
Matt was right. As coaches it was our responsibility to help these players get better, even in the midst of a losing season with little hope. We saw potential talent, but it was the mindset that was important. At the end of the season we challenged those 7th graders to come back the next year with a new mindset and new goal…win the first league championship.
The following season we lost our first game, but won the rest in route to a first ever championship. Winning was great, but that was only part of the story. These young men had found out that hard work, determination, and the right mindset can propel you to reach your goals…whatever they may be.
Those same 7th graders are now Seniors. Some of them are going on to play lacrosse in college, and all of them have grown into young men I’m proud to know and have coached. This past week many of the players from that team hosted a Charity Dodgeball Tournament at our High School. Twenty teams and over 120 participants came and paid to support the Edward Taylor Coombs Foundation. Eddie Combs was a local lacrosse player that tragically passed in an accident in 2011. His foundation’s legacy is to “Play Fast and Live Slow”. The words struck me to the core in the midst of all that has happened this past month.
Those words can mean many different things to different people. To me, they have a simple meaning: Live your life passionately and don’t waste time, but also be present enough to enjoy the journey.
I saw Eddie’s mother and sister at the dodge ball tournament. They were smiling. Over 300 students and spectators had shown up and dedicated this event in their son/brother’s legacy. What better way to celebrate his life than through teens making a difference together.
That team will forever stick out in my memory, not because of what we accomplished, but because those players are now young men that “get it”. Sure, they are going to make mistakes, but that is not the point. They care about helping others reach their goals and sharing experiences. They are leaders in our school, cheering on all of their peers. They want their high school experience to be one they remember and are proud of… They are living life and “playing fast” but as I have seen this month, each has reached out to me about their middle school coach, worrying about him and asking what they can do.
I just want them to “live slow”.
I don’t want them to ever take what they have for granted, and after that dodge ball tournament I have a good feeling they never will. We are all faced with hardships, obstacles, and problems in our life. My good friend and coach made it clear that we all have potential to do great things in life, we just need to stay the course. My students have shown me that even in the face of little hope it’s our attitude towards the journey that matters.
I hope we all can learn to “Play Fast and Live Slow”.