At North Central College, the athletic department held an assembly at the beginning of each year. The theme was always influence. They handed out shirts with a number on the back, 40:00, 30:00, 20:00, or 10:00. Each number symbolized how long you had left at the school to influence the future.
In theory it was a great idea. I have brought the idea up from time to time with the boys and girls I have coached over the years. How do we choose to influence those around us or those who would look up to us?
I remember my first year coaching basketball at Kolmar School. I honestly had no idea what I was doing, but was blessed with a ridiculously talented team. There was a student on that team, S.R., who would always tell me he played for his sister and brother.
He played to show his family what he could do because of them. The boy was no all-star, but had more heart than anyone on the team. He always spoke highly of his sister, and always wanted to include his little brother, then a first-grader in his day.
His sister passed away tragically from injuries sustained in the war on terror. His brother graduates Kolmar School this year. His brother always spoke of S.R. as one of his main reasons to play basketball. He speaks of S.R.’s influence on him. On how S.R. really influenced him to push his hardest and be his best self athletically.
I saw a student, now grown, from that team tonight, and he really made me think back to some of the characters I have had the joy of coaching over the past eight years, and how I have had the privilege of watching their influence on their siblings, families, and friends.