Sunday, September 04, 2005

"Failure to prepare is preparing to fail"

First, I want to say that's a pretty pessimistic quote to put up considering we won a big game Friday night. Its just that I've got other things besides football on my mind. We lost a Senior band member last Saturday night in a traffic accident. I was lucky in a sense - I had never had the young man in class and was spared that deflating, gut-wrenching feeling you get when one of your students is cut down too young and too soon. Make no mistake, it was tough going to the wake and paying my respects to the family, but it's not the same as when you really, really know the kid - get used to all that damned energy they possess, and then have to go see them in a casket... see that awful, final stillness. By all accounts, he was a talented kid with a bright future ahead of him. I had spoken with him once or twice before a game during pre-game or some such... noticed that he was the one that played what I call that "big mess o drums" - the ones that sound so cool if you have a person who can really play them. There are about 4 or 5 sections all in a cluster and it takes a pretty strong individual to cart them around. I thought he should have been out for football but never said anything to him about it. You could tell he was doing what he liked the most, and he was good at it. He'll be missed.

My thoughts turn to the other three seniors in the vehicle - all three of whom I had as students in my class as underclassmen... two of which are currently in my 4th block class. I think of the one who will blame herself although it really was not her fault. I wonder if it will cripple her in ways that can't be seen except through the effects it has on your life. I hope she is mature enough to know that some things are not our decisions to make, and that some things that happen are not our's to control or to question. I hope she can find the strength to accept what happened for what it was - a freak accident that was beyond anyone's ability to control. I hope she realizes the best way to honor the memory of her friend is to go on and have the best life she possibly can.

I think of another in that truck and I remember how many times he aggravated me to the point of wanting to, well, put a size 10 "where the sun don't shine." Seeing him after the accident was a relief and made me realize how glad I was that he had escaped serious injury, despite injuring his back. Finally, I think of the last student who is still in the hospital and likely to stay there for some time to come. I think of her artistic talent and I hope and pray she will be whole again. I hope they can get her arm and hand back in shape and leave it without a hint of injury. She has a long way to go, but she is smart, and stubborn and has guts - and sometimes guts is the best thing to have going for you during tough times.

Please add Jerica, Courtney, Andy, and the one that didn't make it, Josh, to your church's prayer list. I'd appreciate it if you did.


I've worked in education and I've worked in the private sector and I've realized something; What we say and do on a football field... the work ethic and attention to detail a good coach should have... that stuff is directly applicable in other areas besides our sport.

"Failure to prepare is preparing to fail"

- Coach John Wooden

Our country is in dire need of men who can make decisions and act. Period. As coaches, we must not ignore the fact that there are issues in our community that might need our time and energies besides football. I only say this because it has become obvious in the passing of Hurricane Katrina, there is a void in this country of men who are willing to take on challenges, go to the trouble spots to assess situations themselves, make decisions and then act on them.

Katrina is over. The effects are only beginning. I am left with the question, how well would my community deal with a catastrophe? How many would die simply because of poor planning, poor preparation, and failure to act in a timely fashion?

Went up on a mountain today with three other amateur radio operators to begin the task of rebuilding our repeater (radio) system. Perhaps the most useful thing an amateur radio operator can do is provide reliable communications during times of emergency. Undoubtedly, the Katrina coverage has me wondering if all the hours I'm spending in the afternoon blowing a whistle might be better spent working thru the amateur radio community to help build our ability to react to, well, the things you hope never happen. I love coaching but there's only so many hours in the day. Here in the mountains, we have a series of semi-isolated communities that could pretty much be cut-off from the rest of the world if just a handful of roads were to become impassable. I honestly don't know if we have a hardened communication center that has the ability to stay online for an extended period without power. And, to be completely frank, our amateur radio capability at this point is pretty much a non-factor.

I'm done rambling. But I'm going to be spending some more of my spare time with some things besides football... I can see that now.

Speaking of football, we were up 40-0 at the half and the starters only saw the field on special teams in the second half in route to a 40-12 win. Our guys finally woke up and all I can say is that IT WAS ABOUT TIME! No matter your ability, on a football field there is no substitute for effort and determination.

No football in this post... Just upset about the aftermath of Katrina. I feel I should take my sick leave and drive down to help... but what would I do? What can one person do?

I won't end on a bad note. Instead I'll share a Cherokee story that might be useful when dealing with some kid somewhere someday.

Coach Smith


An old Cherokee was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, "A battle is raging inside me ... it is a terrible fight between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The old man fixed the children with a firm stare. "This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too."

They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee replied: "The one you feed."