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LLOYD: Please appreciate high school coaches for the important lessons they teach

By Jared Lloyd - | May 31, 2023
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Timpanogos baseball coach Kim Nelson reacts after getting an ice bath at the conclusion of his team's 8-1 victory against Lehi in the 5A state championship game at UVU's UCCU Ballpark on Saturday, May 27, 2023.
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Spanish Fork head coach Natalie Jarvis encourages her team during Game 2 of the 5A state championship series against Bountiful at Gail Miller Field in Provo on Friday, May 26, 2023.
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American Fork head coach Jarod Ingersoll talks to his brother, Lehi head coach Jason Ingersoll after the Cavemen won the 6A championship series against Skyridge at UCCU Ballpark in Orem on Saturday, May 27, 2023.
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Lone Peak girls lacrosse coach Weslie Lundell gives instruction to her team during a time out at the 6A state championship game against Mountain Ridge at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman on Thursday, May 25, 2023.
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Westlake head coach Danny Horne talks to sophomore Ethan Gill during the 6A second round game against Roy in Saratoga Springs on Thursday, May 18, 2023.
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American Fork players pose for a photo with their head coach, Jarod Ingersoll, and the state title trophy after winning the 6A championship series against Skyridge at UCCU Ballpark in Orem on Saturday, May 27, 2023.
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Springville head coach Jill Thackeray directs freshman Kalia Sjoberg during the 5A super-regional game against Payson in Springville on Friday, May 19, 2023.
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Timpview head coach Rachel Weiss (blue shirt) talks to her team during the 5A state regional game against Mountain View in Provo on Saturday, May 13, 2023.
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Timpview junior golfer Emma Lillywhite talks to head coach Jeff Ward during the first round of the 2023 5A state tournament at Remuda golf course in Farr West on Monday, May 8, 2023.
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Lone Peak girls golf coach Derek Farr (center) talks with other coaches before the start of the 6A Girls Golf State Championships at Riverbend Golf Course in Riverton on Monday, May 8, 2023.

On the surface, high school coaches have a straightforward job.

Take a bunch of teenage athletes, instruct them how to play their sport to the best of their ability and then guide them to victory.

Simple enough, right?

Yet I know how these coaches invest tremendous amounts of time and energy for relatively little compensation with no guarantee of reaching those goals I just mentioned.

In addition, they frequently deal with enormously high levels of stress and contention from parents who feel like the team or individual should be coached differently.

I was discussing with my colleagues at Saturday’s 5A and 6A baseball championships at UCCU Ballpark in Orem about how the four head coaches participating with their teams (Timpanogos head coach Kim Nelson, American Fork head coach Jarod Ingersoll, Lehi head coach Jason Ingersol and Skyridge head coach Ryan Roberts) had somewhere around 60 years of high school head coaching experience between them.

Think about that … 60 years.

Someone commented that in the future we might not see coaches be as committed as someone like Nelson, who has been coaching for nearly three decades.

It’s sad that might be the case but given the challenges of the job, it’s easy to understand.

I started thinking about the legacy coaches construct during their years leading their respective programs, whether that be just a few seasons or dozens.

Frequently we quantify those legacies by talking about how many wins a coach had or how many championships their teams earned.

But when you ponder it a little more deeply, you realize what poor measuring sticks those are.

You see, the real value of coaches isn’t all about what is on the scoreboard. It is the impact they can have on the lives of their athletes.

High school coaches frequently have a powerful connection that enables them to teach young women and young men lessons that will benefit them throughout their lives. Since any athlete who wants to compete in the sport has to follow the directions set by the coach, they are often listened differently.

That doesn’t mean they do everything right. Coaches are human.

Expecting perfection from them is as wrong as expecting perfection from athletes or officials or anyone else. They will make mistakes, just like all of us do.

But when I consider the coaches I have worked with for years and admire, I firmly believe that for the most part their overall impact is positive.

Here are five of the most important lessons that I think the best coaches naturally instill in their athletes:

1. Discipline

Every sport requires an element of discipline, whether it is being in the right spot for a team or honing skills for individual competition.

I know when I was a teenager, I pushed back when my parents tried to teach me discipline. But if an athlete wants to play, a coach has a much better position to demonstrate how discipline will result in greater opportunities.

2. Consequences

Teams have rules for reasons and the best coaches expect their players to follow those rules. If they are broken, there are consequences.

I know of many teams where top players have missed time on the field or the court or the mat because of such decisions, but have later lauded the importance of the lessons they learned from not being coddled.

3. Teamwork

It can be a challenge to realize just how much more powerful a group of individuals with a common goal can be when they come together.

This is the epitome of sports in so many ways (even in sports like golf, tennis and wrestling that on the surface are often about individual performances). High school coaches are in the best position to guide teenagers to see the benefits for themselves.

4. Positivity

This one can be so hard even for the best coaches, since in the heat of competition it can be so tempting to focus on negative things.

But I’ve come to understand that we are so much more likely to succeed when we believe in ourselves and our own potential, especially in sports. Coaches that provide that positive framework show their kids a better way than getting mired in negativity.

5. Selflessness

In a “me-first” society, what I want is paramount. But there is always a cost that comes with that approach.

I talk to so many athletes who have come to realize that when you spend the time building others up instead of just being all about yourself, it makes you better on multiple levels.

Coaches encourage this constantly because they know what it can do both for the team and for the lives of the athletes in general.

These are just of few of the numerous life lessons that coaches get to instill in the kids they work with day in and day out, lessons that can make such a huge difference for years to come.

So I hope you will take the time to thank them for those efforts, to let them know that their time and energy is valued for the impact they have.

To all the coaches I get to work with, thank you for all you do.


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