We heard a former college basketball coach, Erik Johnson, speak at the Hopkinton High School field house last night. He works for PCA – Positive Coaching Alliance. I felt schooled in a way I wish I had taken to heart years ago. Here’s a story he told that sums it up: A couple years back, his best friend texted him – “What coach doesn’t start his leading scorer?!” Johnson called his friend – “What’s up?” 

Well, he was at his 10 year-old son’s soccer tournament for the weekend. Two teams combined to compete together for the tournament – his son was leading scorer out of both teams. The coach wasn’t starting him.

“What coach doesn’t start his leading scorer?! I even showed him the stat sheets and he still wouldn’t start him! He ruined Owen’s whole weekend!” Johnson stayed silent for a moment, then said, “You know I love you, right?” “Right.”

“Owen’s coach didn’t ruin Owen’s weekend – you did. Think of what you could have helped him learn through that experience. ‘Each coach has their own style. We don’t always know – or agree with – why they do what they do – but it’s your coach’s decision and you can handle this. Be there for your team. Cheer them on – and when it’s your turn to play – give it your all. I’m proud of you.’

“Instead, probably every time Owen looked over at you for encouragement and support, he saw you frustrated and angry and fuming at his coach. It’s you who ruined your son’s weekend – not his coach.”

I gulped all the way through that story. For in myriad small and big ways, I have been guilty of everything Johnson’s best friend did that weekend. But the good news is – I can choose to change.