“It feels good to do good.”
Most coaches I know feel blessed to be able to do what they do. Maybe not always, but the good outweighs the bad by a significant amount, or we wouldn’t do it. However, not everyone is as blessed as we coaches.
Hopefully, a lot of what we teach as coaches has very little to do with playing lacrosse, or football, or hockey, or any other sport. It has to do with learning to be a good teammate, a good friend, and a good person. Some of our most important teaching doesn’t happen on the field, or in the gym, or in the rink.
Volunteering Makes You Feel Good
I’ve got a great opportunity for all you coaches out there. It’s an opportunity to teach your team and make them feel good. Get your players to look beyond themselves and give a little back. I have always been a big fan of the oxymoronic term “mandatory volunteer work.” (How can it be volunteer work if it’s mandatory?) Requiring my players to participate in a team service project helps make my team better. The players work together to accomplish something that has very little personal benefit to themselves or their team — or does it?
My players have done service projects for some really terrific causes over the years. From raising money for the Red Cross to picking up trash along the highway, we have done some good stuff for our community (and no, it was not a Work Release Program, I do not coach at the penitentiary — yet). But probably the best service project I have ever done with a team was sorting donations at the Community FoodBank of New Jersey in Hillside, NJ. We learned that volunteers contribute the equivalent of $2,000,000 dollars in labor to The FoodBank each year, which is money they can spend on helping more people. (They’d love to hear from you about volunteering!)
This was a challenge for my players, both physically and mentally. They had to work together to sort pallets and pallets of donated food into manageable quantities that could be delivered to people who need it. It was interesting to see some unlikely players rise to the occasion and accept leadership roles they would not have had on the field. These kids walked away tired but with a feeling of accomplishment. They could actually see the results of their labors
They learned that ”It feels good to do good.” And what a great way to make yourself feel good.