When it comes to coaching, it is often the little things that make the greatest impact. The ability to make decisions on the fly, to control the game in pressure situations, and to teach your athletes not only the skills of the game, but also build character in life are what separate the good from the great. Attributes such as these aren’t just born in a person. For a coach, they have to be learned, built, and groomed over years of successes and failures.
Mike experienced this first hand. While often doubting and questioning his coach as a young athlete, age, experience, and fatherhood have shown him just how impactful Coach John Ross was in his life.
Enjoy Mike’s story as we continue recognizing coaches and their dedication to developing total athletes during Coach Appreciation Month.
It wasn’t until I became a husband, father, and volunteer youth coach that I truly began to appreciate the greatness of Coach Ross.
Sometimes, it takes many years to fully realize the influence of a coach. I played high school basketball for Coach John Ross at Wade Hampton High School (Greenville, SC) in the late 70s. When I played for Coach Ross, I respected him, but I did not fully appreciate his character and integrity until many years later. As a young kid in high school, I wish he played me more, I complained sometimes about his game strategy, and at times, I thought I knew more than he did.
It wasn't until I became a husband, father, and volunteer youth coach that I truly began to appreciate the greatness of Coach Ross. As I look back on his life and his influence in my own, I now see a man who truly modeled a Christ-like example in every area of his life. In all my time around him, I never once heard him utter a profane word, and believe me we gave him plenty of reasons to be angry. He was a devoted husband and father who was deeply committed to his faith and his church. I can't remember all the games we won or lost, but I will always remember that in the locker room we started every game in a huddle reciting the Lord's Prayer.
A couple years after I graduated, Coach Ross was faced with a very difficult situation when his son tried out for the team. As tryouts moved on, Coach was completely unbiased and made the decision to cut his own son. It wasn't until I became a father that I realized the integrity he demonstrated in making that difficult decision.
Coach Ross won two state 4A championships at Wade Hampton, was runner-up for another one and won several regional titles in his over 30 year tenure. His greatest legacy, however, is the integrity and character with which he lived his life. Although Coach Ross passed away several years ago, this legacy of Christ-like character lives on in the hundreds of lives he touched during his career.