This chapter is the inspirational heart of the book. When you have experienced the power of a coach's influence, then in turn, had the privilege to influence others, the impact you can have on the lives of young people becomes clear.
Like most coaches, I decided to go into coaching because of the power of my coaches' influence over me and my teammates. I wanted to emulate them by teaching others what I had been taught.
In 2001, when we built the new national AFCA headquarters in Waco, Texas, we had planned a beautiful green space behind the building. That plan changed while I was in New York City for an event. I discovered the statue of a little boy who reminded me of myself and other young men. The little boy in the statue had a football under one arm and helmet under the other. He was looking up as if asking a coach to teach him how to play the game of football and how
to win in life. I bought the statue. Later, I penned a poem entitled, "A Coach's Influence," in order to explain how the little fellow really touched me. That little boy was me and every other child who dreamed about playing the game and learning through the game how to achieve success in life.
The green space behind AFCA's new building became the Plaza of Influence, where anyone could honor their football coach for the power of his influence. The Plaza is full of wonderful tributes to coaches by their former players. The stories are inspirational, and if I ever get a little bit down dealing with the daily challenges of my job, I take a few minutes to walk through the plaza, remembering that my job helps prepare coaches for their main responsibility: to be a source of positive influence on their players. Also in this chapter, you will find inspirational and heart-warming stories by players whose lives were touched and changed by their football coaches.
The intent of this chapter is to remind coaches through inspirational vignettes of the wonderful opportunity we have each day to touch and change lives through the power of our
Former football players in the high school, college and the professional ranks who experienced, personally, different social issues as they grew up, found direction and purpose, and ultimately success, through the mentoring and leadership of their coaches.
Clinton Holmes, who played for Tim Teykl, at V.F. Terry high school in Texas, gave his rendition of how Coach Teykl changed his life.
"As a young teenager, I was lost in the weeds of high school. As a sophomore in 1992, when Coach T took over at Terry high school, I was barely a starter on a sophomore team. I was drinking and partying with other students, and pretty much entering into a life of debauchery.
"I had a smart mouth, and I thought that I had all the answers. I thought I had everyone fooled, that I could just coast along and good things would just fall my way.
"Coach T pulled me aside at the end of my sophomore year and told me he saw me as a pillar of the Ranger football program, a starter, and eventually a team captain. He said
my after-school activities and partying are a problem, and if I would just straighten up, follow his lead, he would mold me into something that I and this town can be proud of.
"I was astonished! How did this man see a bright future in me? I had average grades, a smart mouth and a propensity to party. The bottom line, Coach Teykl gave me a vision. He told me in a few simple words that I had a gift and that it was criminal to waste it. I am now a captain in the Army, graduated West Point in 2000 and played four years of football for the Army team. I have served overseas and have led soldiers for the past six years. I am very proud of my service.
"Coach T set the conditions, fostering the environment and giving me the guidance, which allowed me to make the change and succeed. In my life, Coach Teykl helped me to make a pivotal decision to do, to be, to play like a champion. Coach T is still my mentor, and he is still my coach. I know if I need a shoulder to cry on, he is still there in my corner."
The coaches, by our personal experience, know full well the power of influence that our own coaches had over us.
Realizing that, and beginning to use our influence in a positive way, we, like Coach Teykl, can give the gift that will change lives forever. The greatest gift we can give to our own children or those we coach is "The Key to Success."