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Motivational Coach

The whistle blew several times signaling the end of practice. The players and I ran to the middle of the field, cheering. We jumped up and down for several minutes as Coach Flaherty continued to blow the whistle. Finally he stopped and signaled us to take a knee. He emphasized that school was starting the next day and reminded us of three key points: we controlled our attitude going in to school, and our success in school was contingent on our attitude going in. Coach also warned us that some students might say things to us about how we had lost badly in our first two games, and that we should not listen to them, that we needed to stick together and help each other out when we were in need. Coach Flaherty ended his speech, and we all stood up and put our hands in the middle of the circle. “One Love on three,” Coach Flaherty told us in a low voice.

Coach Flaherty is more than just my football coach. He is a person who motivates everybody involved in the football program to be the best that they can be. “One Love” is one of his most important ideas. Although we all come from different backgrounds, we all have one love, which is football. We use this idea of “one love” to remind each other of what brings us together and that we are all part of the football family. All of us, players, coaches, and managers live by this idea and use it every day of our lives.

Coach Flaherty has not only taught us to be a diverse family, but also to be leaders. During my time as a manager for the football team, I learned the acronym L.E.A.D., which stands for Loyalty, Empathy, Accountability, and Discipline. As we grow as leaders on the football field, we are loyal to each other. We know that we can always count on each other to do what needs to be done. To teach us empathy, Coach Flaherty recruits special needs students into the football program as managers. By allowing us to develop a relationship with these students, Coach Flaherty has taught us not just acceptance, but admiration of those who are different or must overcome more challenges than us. Since my youngest brother is autistic, I especially empathize with these students and revere our coach for teaching so many other athletes this empathy.

Coach Flaherty has also taught me the importance of discipline. One day during the off- season, one of the players threw an empty Gatorade bottle as Coach Flaherty walked into the room. “Who threw it,” he asked. When nobody held themselves accountable, the whole team was disciplined for the act by being made to run several sprints around the track. That day, I learned that it was important to be accountable for one’s actions and to have discipline. Coach Flaherty reminded us of this after a prank that occurred during football camp. As the whole team completed several sets of down-ups and ran several sprints, Coach Flaherty gave us all a stern lecture about discipline. In this way, I was again reminded of the core values of LEAD.

Although Coach Flaherty is hard on us when we make a mistake, he does this to teach us the importance of be a good person in addition to being a good athlete. But the biggest impact he has on me is from his motivational speeches. He reminds us to worry about what we can control, accept others, and be a helping hand. The lessons I have learned from Coach Flaherty are lessons that I will take with me to not only college, but the rest of my life.



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