Things I Could Only Learn on the Field

We are excited to have our friend SAHS68 back once again to share a few thoughts on his days as a player and coaches at South Aiken High School. We appreciate SAHS taking time from his schedule to impart a few word of knowledge and to give his take on what it means to learn the lessons of life on the field of play.

I'll start by saying that I'm not a psychology major.

The extent of my psychology education goes as far as an introductory course in high school and a semester of interpersonal psychology at the community college as a humanity elective. I would like to think however that the lessons learned in life give me some kind of understanding of the human condition. Not everything can be taught in a classroom and sometimes the most value lessons aren't asked on a test, don't register on a student's GPA, and don't show up on a high school transcript.

Many of the most important lessons in life, I learned on the football field.

The most important ties a person has around himself are the relationships he forms with his peers. These relationships can be deep and profound or as short lived as a transaction at the McDonald's drive through window. A lot of importance in life is based upon how you are perceived by others and the relationships and impressions you form. In my opinion there are few things that are more beneficial to helping you acquire the tools necessary to succeed in life than participating in team sports.

Every day after that final bell sounded at 3:00 I began my lessons. There were classes in teamwork, studies in sportsmanship, workshops in humility, applications in tolerance, studies in self-confidence, classes on class, congregations in camaraderie, days devoted to developing a work ethic, and lectures in goal setting.

I never was spectacular at the tangible aspects of the game of football. My blocking techniques left some to be desired. My strength wasn't world class. My body frame wasn't designed to be any more than just average at my position. But in these intangibles, the true vein of high school athletics, I hope that I took something worthwhile from the game.  

A man doesn't go into coaching with the intention of just teaching the running back how to hit the hole with a forward lean or the linebacker how to flow with the play and attack the ball carrier with the head across the body. To coach is to provide the tools, the means to be a better individual both on and off the field. Your high school coach didn't get you your job, put perhaps some of those lessons learned aided you in your self-confidence during the interview and that made all the difference. Your coach didn't make you graduate high school or college, but perhaps he inspired you to set that goal and instilled in you the work ethic to make it happen.

Your personality is shaped in your youth by the people you look up to. Not everyone has the perfect family life and role models to look up to and learn from. Kids need role models that can teach them the things in life that are beneficial long after those pads come off for the last time and the cleats are hung up to dry. That is where I think my coaches have helped me the most. Many times I've had someone thank me for being classy, a good sport, and being able to relate to others. There really isn't the need to thank me for things which I can not go without being thankful myself. It all goes back to the days when I wore that #68 jersey and learned all of those valuable lessons. I merely learned what was taught to me. I had good teachers. You can thank them instead.

Thanks to all of the coaches in high school athletics for the sacrifices and dedication in what you do in influencing the lives of so many young men. And for me personally I would like to thank Coach Eddie Buck. I could never drive block that well due to no fault of his own.  

Ralph Morris
SAHS68 in95

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