The power exerted on the field

Published 2:12 pm Friday, May 26, 2017

The great news that the ECU Club Baseball Team is once again going to the World Series as the top-ranked club baseball team in the nation fills all its fans with pride. The Fox family is feeling blessed because Coach Fox is an exemplary person as well as a gifted coach. He has a sister, Sarah, who looks up to her brother and is his biggest fan.
There is an excerpt from the late Pat Conroy’s book “Prince of Tides” that is a letter from a little sister to her brother, who is a football coach, that might speak to all coaches, encouraging them. Praising them.

“Dear Coach,
I was thinking about what you can teach your boys, Tom. What language you can use for the love of boys driven by your voice across the grass you mowed yourself. When I saw you and your team win the first game, all the magic of sport came to me silver voiced, like whistles. There are no words to describe how beautiful you looked delivering urgent messages to quarterbacks, signaling for time-outs … for the soft, gauzy immensity of your love for all the boys and all the games of the world.

“But there are some things only sisters can teach the coaches in their lives. Teach them this, Tom, and teach them very well: Teach them the quiet verbs of kindness. … I cried last night when I heard your voice above the crowd. I heard you cheering for the clumsy tackle. … But, Tom, my brother the lion: Teach them what you know the best. There is no … letter that can pass your one ineffable gift to boys. I want them to take from you the knowledge of how to be the gentlest, the most perfect brother. (Sis)”

A writer friend of mine recently told me about the meanest man he ever knew. He was also his coach. That will not happen here. We can hope that all coaches of both boys and girls realize the power they exert on the field and the memories they create to last a lifetime.

Jerrie Oughton is a Houghton Mifflin published author of award-winning books for young people.