A Coach’s Legacy: Developing the Total Athlete

Long after each season's close, a coach will live on in the hearts and minds of his athletes. Most players, even after years have passed, will remember every coach they ever had growing up, and will very quickly tell you if they loved or hated each one based on their experience.

The coach can be a polarizing figure - just watch the countless TV shows and movies that portray both "good" and "bad" coaches, and you will see the effect a coach can have on a player’s life, building an athlete up in self-confidence and character, or tearing an athlete down to struggles with low self-esteem.

A good coach becomes a role model; the big brother or sister a player never had, even acting as a parent to an athlete, providing a home away from home on the field and in the locker room.

One of the ways Upward Sports is reclaiming the landscape of youth sports is through our coaches. We encourage them to measure an athlete’s character the same way we might measure speed, skill or other athletic successes.

One coach will impact more young people in a year than the average person does in a lifetime.

- Billy Graham

Character can be strengthened in any game or practice the same way skills can be learned. Both types of development are vital to a young athlete's life. What an athlete chooses to do and not to do, decisions made during the game, and decisions made outside the sports arena, are all just as important as the final score of the game. At Upward Sports, we want to shape young players into the total athlete. Coaches often have to make hard decisions in order to develop that total athlete; they are responsible for determining if what is best for the player is best for a particular game.

It is for this reason that this month, we have designated November as our official Coach Appreciation Month. We want to recognize the incredible men and women on this journey with us, and those in the past that have paved the way for our high standard of coaching. We would not be Upward Sports without our coaches and their leadership.

We are thrilled to read the more than 200 stories of great coaches here at Upward Sports that you all have submitted. Thank you for sharing these inspiring stories. But please, don't stop now! You can submit your story of a great coach at www.upward.org/stories. I love to hear about these great leaders, and I encourage you to let the great coaches in your life know how you appreciate them - on and off the court and field.