Being a “Character Coach” for the Conemaugh Township Football Team has changed my life. I have been leading financial organizations for my entire career and at times have had struggles with being a “workaholic” and known as a “tough person to work for.” With that, my identity was found in my position as a successful banking executive. Being a Character Coach has provided me an opportunity to understand that my true identity is in Christ and is much more lasting and significant than any secular position. In trying to look at each encounter with the team as a “divine appointment,” I have also been able to be more in tune with my real mission at work, living for Jesus as His disciple.
In working with the Coaching staff and the young men on our team, I have learned that sometimes it is just a “hey, how are you doing today?” or “tell me what is wrong?” I am called to be a servant and an encourager to hurting people that God brings before me. Broken homes, poor role models and heartaches are in abundance.
I had two situations this year that will always stick with me. The one was with a senior who comes from a very dysfunctional home, with multiple family members living under one roof. After getting some background from our Head Coach, I discovered this senior helps raise five young nieces and nephews. Missing school, missing practice and not knowing when I would see him next characterized our relationship. Every time I saw him, I went out of my way to just be there for him. After a JV game, I asked him if we could grab a bite. We went to the local deli and I found out he was also a wrestler and wanted to be a Social worker so he could help kids someday. Shortly after our time together, he posted a picture of the two of us down on the field as his Facebook profile. I am praying that the Lord will give me more opportunities to minister to him and talk specifically about his relationship with Jesus.
The second situation that greatly impacted me this year happened when I was on the practice field. I noticed that one of our coaches looked very distraught. He opened up with me…”Todd. . . I’ve been working with mentally challenged kids for almost thirty years and I never thought I would say this, but I am ready to call it quits.” He proceeded to pour his heart out to me about a kid that he worked with for years, who was making great progress and soon would be able to hold down a low functioning job. He went on to say that he was so discouraged because the Dad had suddenly stopped all future training/counseling, etc. saying, “Johnny doesn’t have to work, he can watch TV with me.” After pouring years of energy into this boy, my fellow coach felt so defeated. “I would take Johnny into my house today if I could!” He said it a second time with more passion than I can describe. I could see his jaw clench as he fought back the tears. I put my hand on his shoulder and tried to encourage him that he HAD made a difference in Johnny’s life. After that incident, I would text my fellow coach on a regular basis, just letting him know that I was there for him and continued encouraging him. Our texts have opened doors to talk further about Jesus.
Despite having a tough season as far as wins and losses go, I am thrilled that Coach Z has given me an opportunity to serve in this capacity. Sometimes seasons are not always judged by wins and losses!
For me…It has been a WINNING season!