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The other week I had the privilege of interviewing four students in preparation for National Coaches Day. Coaches are one of the most influential adults in a student’s life. Typically not a family member and unlike a teacher providing a grade, coaches must motivate, inspire, and train athletes through passion and leadership. The relationship between coach and athlete is a unique dynamic these four students revealed in their tributes.

Initially very nervous to be filmed, yet somewhat excited to be “YouTube stars”, the students all proclaimed they didn’t know what to say. In all fairness, they were put on the spot when I asked what their coach meant to them. As they considered what to say, you could see the impact their coaches had with the smiles and chuckles that appeared across students’ faces. Once ready, each stepped to the camera and expressed in their own words the reason why they appreciated their coach.

Students thanked their coaches for providing leadership opportunities, mentorship, support off the field, and constant encouragement. I was impressed with their confidence and warmed by the heartfelt expressions of gratitude they offered their coaches. Their remarks are a meaningful recognition of the volunteer time coaches dedicate to being a reliable and supportive adult for student-athletes.

From their own experiences, coaches understand the impact a dedicated and caring coach has on a student-athlete’s journey to adulthood. In the teenage years, coaches are often the only adult adolescents listen to - parents “don’t understand” and teachers “are mean”. But coaches can be fun while also holding students accountable. For many students, the bond with a coach continues long after the season is over; a testament of the crucial relationship the four students recognized as they said, “Thanks, Coach.”

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