Who helped you become the person you are today? Everyone has people in their lives who have helped them in their journey. When you play sports, many times that person is a coach. I played sports from the time I was five years old until my freshman year in college. There are plenty of people who helped me along the way. As I was looking at all of the coaches who have been nominated for U.S. Cellular's Most Valuable Coach Award, I couldn't help but think about some of the coaches I have learned from.
My older brother was there guiding me when I was young. He wasn't a coach in the official sense, but he taught me the basics of pretty much every game. We would play sports (real ones and games we made up) until the street lights came on outside. The neighborhood was our ball field. The neighborhood kids were our competition.
In college I played baseball for a short time. My school had a club team, and we had fun but worked hard. The crazy thing was that my coach at the time went on to be a TV show celebrity. He appeared
and competed on many different seasons of Survivor. Since this post is about coaches, you may have guessed that it was Coach Ben Wade, otherwise known as "The Dragon Slayer." He was either loved or hated by every viewer of the show. However, I just knew him as "Coach." I also knew him as the one who pushed us hard to be better.
The coach who really sticks out to me was the one that I had in high school. His name was Coach Taggart, and since I went to a small private school, he pretty much coached every sport. We had a softball team (no baseball at my school), and I played first base. He also taught P.E. for our school. Our most popular sport was basketball. I remember desperately trying to make the varsity team. I played junior varsity and then helped with varsity scorekeeping, so I traveled with the team. Alas, I never made the team, I just wasn't good enough.
However, what I remember most about Coach Taggart is that his office was always open to any student. We would drop by to say hello, talk about sports, or just joke about life in general. It didn't matter whether you played on the team or not, you were welcome. Did you need a distraction from school work? He was there. Did you need to talk about something more serious? He was there.
Something that I remember most is that he would play basketball with us at lunchtime. One day an accident happened and he got pushed into me. I ended up hitting the floor with my face, breaking a tooth off on the gym floor, and fracturing my wrist. He made sure that, even though I didn't play on the varsity basketball team, I received an honorary trophy at the end of the year. He was the kind of coach who cared about his students on the field and in life.
When I look at the fifteen finalists for U.S. Cellular's Most Valuable Coach award, I can't help but think that they are the same way. They are high school football coaches who love their teams, but also care about who their players will become in life. The great thing is that you can play a part in deciding which impactful coach wins this award. There are actually three local coaches who live right near me in Oklahoma. They are Faron Griffin from Walters High School in Walters OK; Jeff Marshall from Wilburton High School in Wilburton, OK; and Allan Trimble from Jenks High School in Jenks, OK. I really hope one of them win, but I encourage you to head over to the Most Valuable Coach website and vote for your favorite finalist today!
The two winners will receive a trip to Orlando, Florida for the Under Armour All America High School Football Game, and a full prize package. Both coaches will be recognized on the field and presented with a $5,000 check for their school, courtesy of U.S. Cellular.