SIDELINE OBSERVATIONS: Coaches make a difference

Published: Monday, March 24, 2014 at 12:05 PM.

Jim Smith was my head football coach. Mike Walker and Greg Presnell were my defensive line and offensive line coaches. I never played directly under Sylvan Ladner, but I had him for a couple of classes and he's a coach I'd still (attempt to) run through a brick wall for.

Robert Freeman, Pace's longtime athletic director, was my track coach at Gulf Breeze. Kenny Owens, who retired a few years ago as Central High School's principal in Milton, was an assistant coach and my middle school gym teacher.

As I think of the role each of these men played on my life, I'm deeply indebted for their time and sacrifice in helping mold me from a boy into a man.

The men and women who dedicate their lives to teaching and coaching high school students and athletes are a special breed. They sacrifice their time coaching for a pay supplement that averages out to less than minimum wage. But year in and year out, they show up teaching, training and coaching young people.

These men and women love the games they coach, but they love the young people more. It is my privilege to know so many of the fine coaches we have in this area. I know they care deeply for those young men and women entrusted to their care.

At one time I thought about teaching and coaching. Sometimes I wonder if maybe I made the wrong career decision and should have followed that teaching and coaching thought.

It would have been nice to repay my coaches by passing along the lessons of sports and life they taught me so many years ago.

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