by Greg Carroll, Tudor Collegiate Strategies
So I need to explain the picture here…
The spring of 2018 saw the small Division III school where I’d been the athletic director for 18 years find itself in the position of hosting our conference’s men’s and women’s lacrosse championships on the same day. And, it was our campus’s commencement day. Graduation day is a big event on every campus. For mine, it was even more so. As a school with a high percentage of first generation college graduates, commencement is especially impactful. An enormous celebration with parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and siblings in all shapes and sizes!
After a ton of planning and thanks to being surrounded by an amazing staff we got it done and the day went off without a hitch. Despite a steady rain through both games, both our teams came out victorious. There were enormous crowds for both games as families traveling for commencement caught some of the action before the ceremony as well as after. The feedback from everyone was spectacular.
As we were breaking down following the awards ceremony (I’m in the background in the green hat) I see our president coming down the stadium stairs, still in his commencement gown. It was still raining and he’d just finished presiding over his first ceremony as president. With all that was going on that day and the responsibilities he had he still felt that it was important to come down and congratulate each player. By the time he finished he was soaked head to toe. Realizing players from both the men’s and women’s teams would miss ceremonies because of their games. He presented their diplomas to them personally during our senior athlete dinner a few nights before.
I have this picture on the bookcase in my office as a reminder about what’s important.
This has been an incredibly difficult year for athletes, coaches, administrators at all levels, and especially for parents who for years have supported their sons and daughters and been in the stands supporting them. But this year’s attendance policies made that impossible in most cases. I hope that as you reflect on all the challenges you faced over the past year you have moments like the one I just described to give purpose to the work you do.
Often, that work goes unnoticed. You’re highly visible on game day but no one sees you in your office after hours making recruiting calls or trying to write the perfect email that will get that recruit to commit, breaking down film. Meanwhile, your family is having dinner yet again without Mom or Dad. And there are the sleepless nights when as you second guess every decision you made over the last 24 hours (did I call the right play, should I have put a different substitution, do I really want to offer that player a roster spot, etc.)
Obviously I could go on for days describing all those things that give us gray hair, or in my case cause us to lose our hair! Whether you are a coach, support staff, or an administrator my hope is that over the last 12 months you’ve collected moments that remind you why you chose to work in intercollegiate athletics. Sometimes we need to reflect back because we might have missed them at the time in the fray of game day or the thousand other things we were doing at the time.
If you’re having a hard time finding them please accept this as a token of appreciation from someone who truly understands all the extra work that went into this past year and the many personal sacrifices you made. Your reward may not come right now but it will come. It may be in the form of a recruit who is coming to you from a former player who you inspired to go into coaching. It may come in the form of an invitation to a former athlete’s wedding, or a birth announcement, or a letter from one of your athletes at the time of a loss and they describe how the things they learned from you helped them get through a difficult time.
With the close of the academic year I hope you have time to reflect, recharge, and regroup and the weeks of summer bring long, restful days of sun and warmth. Congratulations on a job well done, Coach.
Greg Carroll – who was also soaked head to toe in this picture – is one of the trusted advisors at Tudor Collegiate Strategies who works with college coaches throughout the Northeast, leading them through our client program. To contact Greg, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.