Our city was tough, populated by the haves and the have-nots. Both sides learned the ways of each other since all went to school together. On one side of town, many single mothers dragged their sons and daughters to very emotionally charged worship services every Sunday. On the other side of town, a good number of mothers and fathers made sure their kids attended worship services as well, though the services were a little more subdued. Both sides had faith in a higher power, but the religion that unified all was Basketball. During the Tuesday and Friday nights of winter, standing room only crowds filled the gym without exception. Losing was not an option, almost a crime or sin to some. The elders were the former players, local legends that held every current baller to an impossible standard. The city's identity, pride and collective togetherness rested upon how "the boys" played. The fans were fanatical and Coach Smitty led the flock.
Smitty had a habit of walking around high school with his head down. You never saw the man's eyes as he approached you, yet he always seemed to see everything. Smitty kept his eyes on his prize, the loose change that others had dropped. Smitty would walk the entire high school multiple times a day, especially after lunch period, searching for fallen coins. The 6'4 old school former basketball star would pick up dozens of coins a day, most of them pennies. He would gather the penny, rub it between his fingers to remove excess dirt and put it in his pocket along with the others. To the unindoctrinated, it may have appeared that he was cheap or hard up for money. The truth was and is that, Coach Smitty owned many investment properties, free and clear of mortgages. He was relatively wealthy. He was and is an investor. He invests his time in shining the fallen pennies of the city and helping them, helping us, understand our worth and value. He was and is a COACH.
Coach Smitty would take that suburban kid, gamed honed by a doting father in a back yard court that ensured his son had a lethal jump shot, and married him to a style that challenged his toughness. Smitty pressed all over the court, non-stop physical ball pressure. That suburban spot up shooter was demanded to run faster than he could, be stronger than his body enabled. That non-confrontational boy was programmed to learn when to confront and disrupt on the court.
Coach Smitty would take that rebellious athlete, raised by a single mother, and demand discipline. The free flowing street ball impresarios were shown and obligated to understand changing pace, offensive spacing and exploiting match ups. The confrontational boy was programmed to learn when to use guile and passivity in order to outsmart the opposition. Using force and brashness enabled many to thrive but unchecked, can become counterproductive. Smitty knew and instilled this knowledge.
Where have all the Smitty's gone? Where is that Coach that will pick up the fallen and shine them? Put them is his/her pocket and value them. Teach the weak to be strong and the tough to be compassionate. Many feel that a title or designation makes them a coach. Not true! Ability makes you an able coach. Smitty and his ilk thrive because they ARE the part! Many feel that since they are named coach, they are qualified to be so. A certification program, background check, degree and friends in hiring positions don't make the coach. The productivity and progress of the STUDENTS proves how great the TEACHER IS! Thanks to all the real COACHES that are investors that shine pennies, adding value and increasing worth, not just using them for personal glory, status or position.