I am a loser. In three seasons coaching softball at Wheaton (Illinois) Academy from 2009-11, my career coaching record was 37-52. It remains 37-52 and it will very likely always be 37-52.
For those scoring at home, that's a winning percentage of 41 percent. As NFL Hall of Famer Bill Parcells has been known to say, "You are what your record says it is." Thus, a loser am I.
My coaching career wasn't supposed to last only three years. No, I didn't get fired, although I'm sure there were times when WA's then-athletic director Paul Ferguson was ready to graciously put an end my fledgling coaching career (although I was inexperienced, I think Paul hired me because I had a very detailed plan for success; the fact that Super Bowl winning coach Tony Dungy called Paul to recommend me for the job probably didn't hurt either).
Regardless of my lack of coaching ability, when our team walked off the field after losing to Ridgewood High School in the 2011 IHSA 3A regional championship game, I was already planning for our next season, and the season after that. We were going to build a successful program, even if I died trying.
I loved the process of coaching. For someone who is an ineffective long-term planner in most areas of my life, coaching was different. I was always trying to figure out ways to improve our softball program. Unfortunately, too often this came at the expense of everything else, including relationships.
I could write that I was being a godly leader in our home when I decided to resign from coaching, but I'd be lying. I knew that focusing on family was more important than coaching a gaggle of teenage girls not my own. But although I knew this deep in my soul, I was still a petulant child who didn't want to stop coaching.
I was too engrossed in trying to improve a 37-52 record that I was convinced would get better in short order. My hunch played out as, ultimately, only two years after my resignation, four freshmen who started for our 2011 team went on to capture a league championship, yet that was under the direction of a coach far better than I.
But, regardless of my 37-52 lifetime tally, I did learn some life lessons from being a loser, the most significant of which is that lessons don't mean much if we don't implement what we learn. Unfortunately, it is that learning-to-implementation process that I struggle with most. I'm hopeful you are better at it than I.
Dr. Mark Rutland's
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