I'm loving this coaching gig, it's almost as great as pastoring (but not quite). I love working with the kids that may not have a lot of natural ability but have a great work ethic. One kid I've really been paying attention to is Jake.
Jake missed a few practices, so he had to run beasts. One beast is running sideline to sideline twice. For every day of missed practice, players have to run two beasts.
Last Friday, Jake was struggling running his beasts. He was walking some, almost crying and almost throwing up. I ran alongside him, encouraging him and not letting him stop. I'm learning that some players need a lot of encouragement while some need to be yelled at. Jake needed the encouragement and he needed to know that I wasn't going to let him quit. He finished his running on Friday and had to run two more days this week. He got better each day. Before practice today he told me, thanks, coach for making me run those beasts, I'm feeling a lot stronger now. That really made my day. It was also great to see Jake holding his own during a tackling/blocking drill.
But what really inspired me this afternoon was during the conditioning at the end of practice. The kids (and I've learned 7th graders have a low tolerance for pain) had to sprint the length of the field, bear crawl across the field, sprint back to the other end zone and bear crawl across the field back to the starting point. Even the tougher kids were really hurting.
Two overweight kids were really struggling during the home stretch of the last sprint and I knew they were going to have trouble in the final bear crawl. They were starting their bear crawl after everyone else was finished. So when they dropped down to crawl, I yelled at their teammates to come over and encourage them (although some already were). All the kids surrounded these two and cheered them on all the way to the end. And when these two kids crossed the sideline, the whole team broke out in a huge cheer. It almost made me cry, seriously!
What a beautiful picture of what church is to be all about. Encouraging each other toward God's best even when things are tough and we don't think we can make it.