My biggest regret as a coach?

I use real life stories to help make my points.  Sometimes I change the names in stories to protect the innocent. Sometimes real names are used. A reader recently asked if I ever critique myself.  The answer is, I am my own harshest critic as a trip through the archives of this site will attest to.  I have openly apologized to my teams on this site for my failings with them. This reader wanted to know my greatest regret as a coach. I'm not sure I have any regrets. I prefer to look at my failings as stepping stones to success, learning experiences.  My greatest of these?

I could title this episode a number of ways.  Never Coach with a Migraine is the first one that came to mind so I will go with that.  I do not select that title to be self-serving or to use having a migraine as an excuse for what occurred that fateful day.  It's just statement of fact. 

It was the late 1990's. The boys were approximately U12's and playing in a tournament in Montezuma, Ohio.  That day's on-the-field performance was horrible.  We got thumped by a team we had regularly defeated until that day.  Post game I really lit into the team and reportedly used inappropriate language.  I honestly do not recall exactly what I said, but do not dispute eye witness accounts.  I know I was angry .... and I know I was wrong.  I apologized when next the team gathered.  Remarkably, the team stood behind me. I am grateful for that.

Migraines have plagued me for 35 years now.  At first they were debilitating. Lying down in a darkened room with enough headache medicine to knock me out was the only cure for me. When this incident occurred I was to the point of believing I could manage the migraine and function properly.  Ha!  Silly me.

There is something else I learned, or perhaps relearned, that day. When a team under performs or does not play to expectations there is only one person to blame - their coach or trainer.  I discuss this in the article The Game is my Test

On that day in Montezuma, I blamed the kids for playing poorly and losing to a team we had previously dominated.  I did not take responsibility for my role in the defeat. I had not properly prepared the team to play that game. The buck should have stopped with me, but it didn't on that day.

 It was the lowest moment in my coaching career.  I agonized over those few minutes of post game address for a long time. Beat myself up far more than any criticism directed at me by others could.  I can rightfully attribute some portion of my actions that day to a migraine headache, but the truth be told - I made the decisions for myself that day and only I am accountable and responsible for my actions that day.

No excuses. 

Apologies made.

Lessons learned.

Forgiveness granted.

I emerged stronger, wiser ... better ... than before.

This is one mistake made once and never revisited.  Thanks be to God.

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