by Dr. Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com
Last month, an exceptional coach passed away.
Harry Parker had been the men’s rowing coach at Harvard University for the past 50 years. He achieved many remarkable things including numerous national and international championships. He was considered by many to be the Dean of Rowing in the United States.
I had the good fortunate to meet Coach once.
I was not aware that he was sick and fighting a long battle with cancer. I wish I had known. If so, I would have sent a letter to him before he left. This is what I would have written:
We met just but once. You were nice. I want to thank you for that.
You won’t remember this, but once we were both working with the national team. I was the gofer coach — the fellow who was always sent off on the craziest of errands. I was at the bottom of the food chain.
One day, close to the World Championships, you just launched your crew. I happened to be standing close by. No one else was really around. You asked my name.
Then, where was I from. And then you asked me, “I think this will be an exciting race, don’t you?” I’m sure I stuttered something unintelligible in response. And you nodded your head.
And then you were gone.
I wanted to tell you, thank you for being nice.
You could’ve easily told me to get out of your way. Or to go get something. But instead, you were nice.
It may not seem like much, but to a new coach wet behind both ears and trying not to screw up everything I did, it was like a sunrise after a week of rain.
I keep that memory alive as I now work with new coaches. I see plenty of them who are wet behind both ears. Afraid of screwing up.
And I try to be nice, because I know it makes a difference.
Thank you Coach
Even though I did not write that letter, you could.
Is there a coach, or teacher, or anyone really, who has had a positive impact on your life? Someone who has put together a legacy that impacted you? If so, please let him or her know how you feel. It’s always better to say those words and acknowledge a positive legacy before, than after.
Mike Davenport is in his third decade of coaching college rowing, and is one of the most respected leaders in his sport. His website, CoachingSportsToday.com, is dedicated to helping 1,000 coaches craft a positive legacy. Dr. Davenport is a frequent contributor to College Recruiting Weekly and the educational events at Tudor Collegiate Strategies.