Why Teach and Coach? (64)

When I became Director of Athletics the first thing I did was book an hour with five different athletic directors I admired.

Dylan said you had to get up close to the teacher if you want to learn anything.

You never know who you’re influencing when you coach.   The same was true for teaching in college.   Formal classroom or just talking to kids.

A basketball player named Damian Carter appeared in my doorway one day at Elon.   He said he rode up and down I-85 often and had planned to stop by many times.

He was in his forties, had been a pretty solid player at Atlantic Christian, having transferred from UNC-Wilmington.   At Wilmington he hadn’t played as much as he wanted.   The same was true at ACC later on, and he found his chances of pro ball weren’t going to materialize.   He was about to quit college though his grades were good.

I don’t remember the specific conversation with Damien, but it was one of fifty I’d had with basketball players.

It went like this:

  1. Are you the first from your family to go to college?   Often the answer was yes.
  2. You’re not going to make $100,000 playing pro ball, you understand?
  3. You can get your degree and get a very good job.   People are looking for athletic people with degrees.
  4. Your job is to elevate your family and its expectations one generation.   Put your money in compound interest, and expect your children to go to college.

I agreed with Damian that was the gist of what I advised the “first kids.”   Damian smiled and added, “Coach, my two daughters have college degrees, and I’ve got a million bucks in the bank!”   Compound interest.

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