I am writing to you, to say thank you, for all that you do!
You make a difference in the lives of everyone you coach and whether you know it or not; they appreciate it. You are the catalyst; the fire, that inspires people to believe in themselves and to embrace their almost limitless potential.
Every day, in so many ways you give all you have to give unreservedly, unconditionally and selflessly to help everyone you coach go faster, go further and go better than they've ever thought possible.
A lot of people think that coaching is pretty simple, that it's something anyone can do. Just grab a few footballs or a couple of tennis rackets or some hockey sticks, buy a whistle and a brightly coloured t-shirt that says "coach" on the back then turn up at the local sporting facility and pow: you're a coach! But what you do is so much more than teaching a bunch of kids to kick a ball, swing a racket, throw a pass or swim a lap.
You change lives!
You connect with, engage and inspire the hearts and minds of kids to believe that anything is possible; that dreams can and do come true.
There's a myth in sports: it's that coaches "motivate" kids. In reality, as you know, you can't motivate anyone to do anything that they don't in some way already want to do.
Motivation is a little flicker, a spark, of passion and potential that burns within the chest of every human being. It is the essence of who we are: it is the birthplace of our dreams and where our vision for our own future and our desired destiny become clear.
What you do coach isn't to motivate, but to understand. You listen, you look and you learn what it is that motivates every individual you coach and then you become the fuel that ignites that flicker, that spark, into a bright flame that bursts; explodes and burns brightly with the irresistible, unstoppable intensity that is at the heart of the human endeavour. At times it might seem that your efforts and energies are not making an impact, but you're wrong.
Think for a moment about your own life…
Try to remember "that" coach, "that" teacher, "that" relative, "that" friend", you know the one I mean, that one person who somehow knew you, connected with you, believed in you, inspired you, understood you. That one person who made all the difference to your life. That beautiful, wonderful, human being who taught you the life lessons that still impact on and influence your ideas, words and actions even now, so many years later.
Well now, you are "that" person. You're the one who's laying the foundations for the kids you coach to have a happy, rewarding, meaningful, successful life. What you do, even if you don't realize it, is remarkable.
One day, in the distant future, long after you've moved on from coaching, one of those kids that you coach will be out walking or sitting in the sun or maybe even starting on their own coaching journey and in that moment, they'll think about you!
They'll remember the skills you taught them and how you showed them to hold a bat or kick a ball. They'll recall the times you made them do push-ups and sit-ups and run a few laps when they didn't want to run them, but they did it anyway. They'll look back and reflect on sharing victories and lamenting losses with you.
They'll think about your uplifting pre-game, electrifying, inspirational tirades and your post-game:
We gave our best and I'm proud of you all!
The talk that you gave after losing in an attempt to mend broken hearts and shattered spirits. The type of talk you give when you lost and all you wanted to do was hide.
But when it comes down to it, they won't remember most of what you did. They won't really remember much of what you said, no matter how many times you said it. They will remember how you made them feel. And ultimately, that's what coaching is all about: feeling.
Coaching can be a lot of things but at its most pure, at its core, it's about a relationship between two people which inspires change through an emotional connection.
As a coach you are a person, maybe the only person, in the life of a young athlete who makes them feel that they can be whatever they choose to be, to go wherever they dream of going and achieve anything they want to achieve.
This, dear coach, is your greatest gift to those you coach, because "feeling" that anything is possible, leads to "believing" that anything is achievable and once we've got belief; then remarkable things are inevitable.
So on behalf of all the footballers, tennis players, runners, jumpers, swimmers, rowers, basketballers, baseballers, cricketers, divers, throwers, shooters, triathletes, bi-athletes and athletes of all sizes, shapes, colours, identities, faiths, backgrounds and levels of capability around this big beautiful sporting world: thank you, coach!
May you light the fires that inspire future generations, always!