25 May 2009

More bitter than sweet

Throughout this track season I have had some days when I question my decision to leave my last coaching position. I guess it wasn't a choice to leave that job, more to leave the teaching position and all the b.s. associated with it.

As the season progressed and I continued to see my old kids excel, it got even harder. As my new crew of kids try to adjust to actually working out and having to sweat, occasionally hurt, and learn new form, it got harder. I still love my old kids and wished them the best.

The current coach called, emailed, or texted me weekly to get ideas for workouts and who to put in which events and what orders to run the relays. I even helped my replacement when he had questions about how to work with the lady-coach that is there. It was like I was coaching two teams.

This past weekend, they won the State championship. Awesome, right? I worked 5 years to get them to that point. Got really close last year - 4th place with very few kids at the meet. I went to watch them the first day. Saw them break some meet records - awesome. Even was texting and calling one of my all-time favorite athletes during my drive to Jefferson City giving him advice after he asked my opinion on how he should run his race that day.

I was still coaching him through his final meet.

I proceeded to help the coach see what he could tell his kids about that evening so they would continue to run well the second day of the State meet.

He did awesome. Won the 100, 200, 400, and a relay. They won the whole meet. Set a new record for their class for the most points scored in the State meet.


I want nothing more for those kids to do well. They deserve it. They work hard for it.

Yet bitter. I have rejoiced with them, but at the same time I am bitter that it will not be my name in the records for coaching them. I am bitter that I am not the one being interviewed. I am bitter that the current coach, who has been blowing up my shit to get advice, has not once mentioned me in an interview. That bothers me. And the main guy who interviews the coaches at the school knows me and what I have done to bring the program up. The other guy will be anointed coach of the year in the fall when we have our state conference of coaches. I doubt if I will get a shout out there, either.


What makes it even harder is that I've only got one kid who made it to our State meet for next weekend. I understand and accept that I have taken on a greater challenge at this school. I understand that the competition is way harder here. I understand that I am starting over just as I did at the last school and that it may take another four years to build a competitive program. (Seriously, I am working with kids of such unheard of levels that I had one boy run a 400 and pee on himself during the race (while running a 68-second quarter), I had a kid think he was a superstar 100m runner and then run slower than all the girls at a meet that occurred elsewhere in town the same day, I have had guys quit the team, kicked kids off the team, had kids who preferred to go get an oil change rather than work on handoffs leading into the District championship, and so much more that I may get into another time.) I understand that I am at a bigger school and that that provides me an opportunity to (possibly) do even more than I did at the last place. I have what has turned out to be some pretty awesome colleagues (though some of them complain about stuff like little punks). But it will be hard to get to the point where we are truly competitive in the conference and state level where we are positioned. I accept that.

It upsets me that I am so upset by all of this. I am not usually bothered. When I coached at the other school, I never really did it for the accolades. Right now, I am definitely not doing it for attention - if anything, at this point, I am not ready to let people know who is coaching the 15 second 100m runners, and the 11 foot long jumpers. I take pride in my work, I have some kids who have drastically improved over this season, but I'm still not ready to be sporting the team colors and logos all over my clothes.

Question is, why am I letting myself get so bent out of shape about this?

Not sure.

I am hoping that after this weekend, lots of sulking, some venting, very few congratulations, some over indulgences of various kinds, and continuously laughing at the Mike Tyson-singing-Phil Collins preview to the movie "The Hangover" I will finally be over it.

I don't like feeling bitter.


  1. When I heard this, I thought that if I were you, I would be pretty pissed, too. The only consolation is you know the kids know, and that's what matters.

  2. You can't control your feelings, but you can control what you do with them. (Although it sounds like you already know that.)

    I personally wouldn't give the new coach any more assistance. He's had a whole year of your advice and should be able to fly on his own now. Sink or swim.

    You may not get your name in the record book this year, but down the line when you whip the new school's team into shape it will feel even sweeter when you get the accolades.

  3. @ KBO - True. When I was there that first day, a few of the kids thanked me. That was nice. And Derrick and Fred are really awesome about it and seem to remember where they got there start.

    I think what I am finding is that he may have just taken credit for what he was doing with the kids. I don't think he even told the other coaches where he was getting "his" ideas for the workouts.

    @ Kathy G -- I am definitely done with passing out advice to them. Hopefully he took notes and wrote stuff down this season. He should be able to do well next season if he did, even with the loss of a few good kids.
    I keep trying to focus on that time down the line. It will feel nice. Even though this new team hasn't done that great, the coaches here tell me that it is exponentially better than it was in previous years. I keep trying to keep that my focus when I get upset.

  4. Those of us who know you, know where all of the credit should land. The kids will know and somewhere deep down inside, so does their new coach. You did it once and you can do it again, just be patient!

  5. @ Ansley Corliss - Thanks, Homey.

    I had an experience today that brought me to tears. Perhaps the day of annoyances was making me too emotional, but...

    As I was walking to the banquet for my track team the debate team coach came up to me in the hallway and said congrats on my athlete making it. I thanked him and made small talk about how he could do this weekend. Then he stopped me and said that he really wanted to congratulate me on my old schools performance as well. It brought tears to my eyes. I thanked him, truly thanked him and told him how much that meant to me.

    Tried to pull myself together and then went to talk to and be with my new group of kids for the last time as a big bunch.

    One of the old coaches told me today that the new coach did indeed take credit for all the workouts. But she is spreading the word of all that I have done for them. She is awesome. So are so many people close to me who acknowledge me and what I can and have done.

    Thanks to all.


I share my thoughts and would love to read your thoughts, too.