Okay, Bona Universe...We have hit the dead of winter and I figure it's time to start thinking about the coming 2012 season and what another year means to me. Those who know me best know how much SBU means to me. I have grown up on and around the campus of St. Bonaventure University and every year I spend as the head softball coach reminds me of how much of a privilege it is to be part of such a unique place. The campus is beautiful and the surrounding valley is a picturesque backdrop to a place that feels like home to so many. Make no mistake...the bricks and mortar give the campus its character but the people are its soul.
All we can ask out of life is that we have the opportunity to do the things we love and to leave a positive mark on those around us. "It's not what we take with us when we are gone, it's what we leave behind." I love my job. I have never awoke in the morning and not wanted to go to work. I am blessed in that manner. It makes life enjoyable and worth the hardships that sometimes goes with managing so many young student-athletes. I have tried to surround myself with the best possible people I could over the years and I have been lucky enough to count many of them as friends or colleagues as the years roll on. Coaching has so many rewards but maintaining relationships once the student-athlete leaves campus is the test of any coach's true character. God knows, I have not been perfect but I know that I have tried my hardest to earn and keep the respect of all those I meet.
The players I coach are more to me than softball players. I tell every player that their worth to me is not as a softball player but as a person. I value the person above any ability they might have. I don't believe that just because you are successful at something it makes you a valuable person to others. Sport is replete with selfish players that have hindered their teams. They had the talent but not the ability to motivate others to be their best. I believe that one's value comes from the value you bring to others. If you are an outstanding player but a terrible teammate, what is the true value? I guess it's the team concept that I was raised with and cherished as I matured. I thank my parents and all the coaches that worked with me over the years for that.
Coaching is a slippery slope at times. The parodox of coaching is that sometimes you have to make decisions that in the short term really hurts players and sometimes even yourself but in your heart you know that it's not only best for the team but for the individual. Softball in the end is a sport...it's not life and death and should never fully define anyone. Being a softball coach is only part of who I am and being a softball player is only part of who the student-athlete is. Winning is important. Believing in oneself is important and having others believe in you is important. However, if you are not respected or someone a person can lean on in time of need, what is the value of winning?
This is how we approach softball at SBU. We approach it with the attitude that being a teammate and being a friend is more important than all else. Win or lose, we are all Bonnies.
See you all on the field!