“Suffering creates perseverance. Perseverance creates character. Character creates confidence.” – Jim Marshall
Last week was about my parents. This week is all about a man who was like a parent to me and many others – Jim Marshall. Even though it has been almost a decade since I competed for him and I have had many other coaches since graduating high school, when I say “Coach” he is who I am talking about.
Akin to many people featured in #AffirmationMonday posts, I could write a book about the profound influence they have had on my life and how wonderful they are. To try to guide my thoughts, I am going to (attempt) to break this into a few intentional categories. These words will not do justice to the person Coach is. But I suppose many of you reading this already know that.
1) Coach the coach. First and foremost, Coach put everything he had into coaching. I didn’t realize that right away, but eventually, I came to understand and respect it. He taught confidence. As a freshman in high school, I did not expect to be good. When I ended up being decent, he showed immense confidence in me. That confidence inundated my life and created self-confidence in my running and life.
Running and life. Any athlete who spent any time at all with Coach knows how much he emphasizes the parallels of having success in running and life. He taught me success does not come without work. And work does not come without some pain. From a very young age, he taught me I can achieve nearly anything I want in life, but it absolutely will not come without discipline, consistent work, a positive attitude and paying attention to doing all of the little things. He taught persistence. He taught us to persevere and work harder when the race (or life) got tough. He taught us the value of hard work and to never grow content with who we were as runners and people. He did not expect us to be the best athletes in the state (although he had some of the best athletes in the state), but he expected us to be the best athletes and people we could possibly be. He has been more of a coach to me. He has been an encourager and mentor.
2) Coach the father. I have my own father. I wrote about him last week. But, Coach made it clear from the beginning of our time spent with him he would be like another father to us. He practiced tough love. But his love for his athletes was evident and profound. He wanted the best for his athletes in running and life. I had a stable home-life. But there were many on the team when I was there who did not. He fought for them. He supported them. He did everything he could to be a positive, stable adult figure in their lives.
3) Coach the fighter. Perhaps the greatest lesson Coach has ever taught me and many others is what it is like to persevere, fight and grow amidst a tragedy. Coach is a fighter. And he instilled a fighter attitude in all he coached. When he was dealt a tragedy no one should ever be dealt, he picked himself up and has made a beautiful life and life’s work out of dust. He is tough as hell.
He has never felt sorry for himself. He has never allowed life’s circumstances and set-backs hold him down or squash his fighter spirit. He is a modern day warrior. And he teaches others to be the same. He teaches us the best way possible – through actions. He is the absolute living epitome of his quote at the top of this post. Coach has suffered. Coach has fought and persevered. And Coach has more character than almost everyone I know.
Coach has changed lives of people all around him. He has changed (and continues to change) mine on a daily basis. And for that, I am forever grateful.
After proofing this, I realized my fear has come true. These words are the tip of the iceberg to Coach’s life and impact. If you have some affirming words or stories for Coach, I encourage you to share them. Comment on this post. Facebook message me. Write on my wall or his wall. Whatever. Affirmations are important…
Especially to those who mean a lot to us and have influenced our lives. So, take some time this Monday to let those people know. #AffirmationMondays