Good Coach-Bad Coach In Sports
Coaches I Have Known
When I was a kid I loved to participate in all sports. My two favorites were baseball and football. I guess this was because I was better in these two than others. From the time i was five, I was out running up and down the road near my home and it was the one that led to my grand dads and my grandmothers good biscuits. In fact, one of my favorite pass times back then was to race the bus, either on foot or my little bicycle each day after school. This got me in trouble a lot and I had my bicycle hung on the well where I could not reach it until my punishment time was over. During these times I did not realize that I was conditioning myself for the future participation in a variety of sports. This would require endurance and the ability to run fast. My ability to run was noticed right away by my future coaches and a number of other adults in my community, as I grew up into a ball playing fiend. I was never content to not challenge everyone I could to a foot race all the way up into the higher grades of my schooling. I did have a problem after running a lot that left me out of breath and sometimes I felt dizzy.
I seemed to be hampered by this problem all the way through school, and back then medicine was not as advanced, and although I had some opinions as to my problems, they were not always clear or explained very sufficiently. When I reached eighth grade, my athletic ability really got into high gear. I played football and baseball and was considered one of the good competitors on my teams by the coaches. The junior high coaches tipped off my high school coaches that I would one day have, and they began to watch me very closely. As a player on the football squad I averaged two touch downs per game. My speed on the field was second to none and I was really developing a following. The coaches pushed me a little too much and when they made me run the ball a lot I began to collapse on the field quite a bit. Some of the coaches and a few players ragged me about quitting and not putting all of my effort into the practice sessions. I would later in life find out that I suffered from hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. This led me to bouts of dizziness and sudden weakness. Later I discovered that I also had condition known as Bradycardia or slow heart rate and this decreases the amount of blood pumped by the heart. This too leads to low blood pressure, dizziness, light headedness, and fainting. The coaches all thought that I simply wanted a break or to rest up a while. They were mostly content for me to get away with this behavior, because they did not want to lose me as a player and I was valuable to the team and their reputations as coaches. It was okay until the day when a coach decided that he would make his team a little tougher and put older and stronger players into the practices with us smaller guys. One day, as I jumped up to catch a high pass, a big boy weighing more than seventy pounds more than me came down on top of me and the added weight snapped my left ankle like a twig. This put me out of commission for the rest of the season and the coach took it out on the guy who helped to break my ankle. I ran and ran some more, trying to get my leg back in shape after it had begun to heal. Finally after a summer of pain and extra trips to the ball field and running a lot, I was ready for a new season and prepared to play some more football.
As the season began to get started, I showed my old speed and the coaches began to let me run more plays from he halfback position. Once again, I began to score two or more touchdowns per game and I even had college scouts watching me for my punting ability and fast moves on the field. The coaches could not resist putting in older players again and really punished us smaller guys some more. We often got little rest breaks at practice and no one could have water until after practice was over. Hydration had been proven to be vital in training all high school athletes. Perhaps this information was not available back in those days. I managed to get through the season without any severe problems ,except for a broken rib and cracked nose. These injuries were not hard to recover from and I felt good about my season and enjoyed the summer with all of its fun, like swimming and fishing, all that I could do.
I did not have as many problems with weakness and feeling faint the last year I was a player on the team. When the following season rolled around, the coaches had high hopes for our team to win the championship in the state. We were told to run and exercise as much as we could in the hot summer months and try to be ready when the new season would begin. I did comply and ran as much as I could that hot summer. When the new football season began, we were in pads two full weeks before the school was in session, during the last weeks of August. I began to have problems with my stamina and felt weak in those hot and parching days. A faint feeling and dizziness would come over me during the first week of practice. I could hear the coaches mumbling in their disgust for me at times and I could do nothing about it but try harder. Finally the coaches got disgusted with the way the whole team seemed to be getting lax and not trying their best. So, the punishment was set to be the "Bull Ring". Everyone dreaded the Bull Ring because the team got in one big circle and each player on the squad had to take his turn and try to run past or over the next player that he faces until everyone had made one complete circle of the whole team. We were already dog tired and as I came to a big guy on the team who weighed about sixty pounds more than me, I felt a violent hit and extremely harsh pain in my lower spine. The other player seemed satisfied with his tackling of me. The coach was not pleased at all. I had to be taken from the field and placed in the hospital over night. I was diagnosed with a bad sprain and given pain killers for a few days. This was before the use of X-ray, and way before MRI treatment to examine brain or spinal injuries. I began almost immediately to have trouble walking and began to limp. Later after several weeks of excruciating pain, I was taken to the hospital and referred to a neurologist in Atlanta. There I was diagnosed with a severe injury to my spine and immediately set up for spinal surgery. I had to have three ruptured disks removed from my spine and the doctor told my parents that I was lucky to be able to walk again after this operation.
Do I blame the coaches, no. Do I blame myself, no. Back in those days athletic programs were not as well planned and provided for in school budgets as they are in today's world of high school sports. Accidents still happen and they cannot always be prevented , no matter how much padding or precautions are prepared for their prevention. I do wish that I had more modern medical attention to my condition of hypoglycemia and the initial examination of my spinal injury. I was able to recover from my injury, but never could play sports of any kind. I proved the doctors wrong later in college and played two years on the college tennis team. Today, I am able to walk and exercise as much as I can and over the years , I have tried to better control my medical problems of hypoglycemia, Diabetes and a few other small problems I've encountered over the past years. Although I never felt like quitting, sometimes we have to and move on to new challenges that our lives have for us. I do know that there are good coaches out there , who have their players best interests at heart. I've seen these coaches and I feel certain that they will be remembered for their wise and caring ways with their ball players.