By John Ed Mathison
John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries
I love and appreciate coaches. An exciting part of my ministry has been the opportunity to speak to and hang around a lot of high school and college coaches. In 2017, I am already scheduled to speak at three different coaches conferences. Coaches have a huge influence and can often reach some young people that nobody else can reach. I have heard it said, “If someone can get a foot in the door with young people, it probably will have ‘cleats’ on it.”
I can’t resist offering a lot of advice to coaches. I’ve had the opportunity to be on the sidelines with high school and college coaches, and they tell me they don’t need so much of my advice. I have some great defensive schemes and some innovative plays that could make any coach successful!
Recently I officiated at the funeral of Jules Davis. He and his wife Jane were married for 68 years and were active members at Frazer. I immediately related to him when they moved to Montgomery because he had been a coach. In 1947 he was a high school senior at Luverne High School. He was a great athlete in basketball, baseball and football. He played with a traveling semi-pro baseball team while he was in high school. One night he scored 78 points in a high school basketball game. He was a football star who led his senior team to the championship.
He graduated and wanted to enter the Army, but he had knee surgery and that made him ineligible for military service. So Luverne High School hired him as the football coach at age 19. The Associated Press dubbed him as the youngest coach in the U.S. He had the distinct privilege of playing on a championship team as a senior in high school, then coaching the same high school the next year and leading them to another championship!
Jules had no assistant coaches to help him. He taught football lessons such as promptness, discipline, running on the field at all times, no profanity and no slack. He also taught his team to be successful in life. Most of them had distinguished careers later in life such as doctors, lawyers, one rocket scientist, educators, fighter pilots, senior officers in the military, etc. Most attribute their success to the early lessons they learned from Coach Davis.
One member of his team was Dr. Lester Stewart. Dr. Stewart’s daughter had never met Jules, but she made a special trip to the hospital to visit him just before he died. Jules was having a tough day. She brightened up the room when she said Jules had made a difference in her dad’s life, encouraging him to get back into high school and graduate. She pointed out that she probably would not be around today if it were not for Coach Davis and the personal attention he gave to her dad and to all of his players.
One of the distinctive things about his coaching career was that no one ever heard him say a word of profanity! He also did not tolerate it with any of his players. I have been around more coaches who are now instituting that in their coaching philosophy. A lot of other coaches would like to if they could abide by that principle personally! As has been jokingly said, most coaches can speak two languages – English and profanity! I admire the many high school and college coaches who have zero tolerance for profanity. May God increase their tribe!
Coaches played a big role in my life. Many of the lessons learned in my life came from coaches in high school and college. Take the time to call or write a note to a coach who has had an influence in your life or in the life of your kids or grandkids. Coaches need encouragement. Coaches usually hear about the things they are doing wrong – they seldom get to hear about the positive influences they have had. Take the time to say thank you today.
I recently attended a luncheon promoting the Camellia Bowl in Montgomery. The speaker was Wright Waters, Executive Director of Football Bowl Association, which oversees the 41 bowl games. He actually went to school here in Montgomery. He credited coaches with much of the success that he has enjoyed. He especially pointed out his junior high coach, Coach Charles Lee, who later went on to coach at Jeff Davis High School, and others who had such an influence in his life.
“A good coach can change a game this season – a Godly coach can change a life for eternity.”
Thank you, Coach!
John Ed’s blog posts appear in For His Glory each week.1
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