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Coach's Corner: St. Joe Benton's Kevin Keeton 11/15Photo Credit: Kevin Keeton

Several years-ago I remember listening to Coach Jerod Kruse speak at a KC Glazier Clinic. You might have been in the room. It wasn’t an X’s and O’s clinic, and its topic interested me. The title had something to do with culture building – I’ve got the notes somewhere – and have reread them a time or two.

One thing that Coach said that resonated, and I’m paraphrasing, was this: “If you and I see each other 10 years from now, and haven’t talked to new people, read new books, had new experiences, we will have the exact same conversation that we had today.”

We are wrapping up the most incredible season most of us have ever experienced. The stress this season has caused on each of us shouldn’t be dismissed. Our sport has always been a mirror of bigger things. It has always shown us both the good and the bad of current society.

But THIS particular season was definitely different. Some say just playing the games themselves was the only thing that mattered, still others continue to measure everything by the scoreboard alone. Each is where they are at on that spectrum, and that’s not really my purpose today.

What I want to know is this – how did you change? Did coaching high school football in the fall of 2020 change you?

My season of change started in 2019 with a player’s death. My season of change also included a divorce.

The struggles both internal and external – to figure out how to love, to give grace, to forgive, to keep a program moving forward, to teach the buck sweep – have nearly broken me at times.

Many of you know I’m associated with our leadership academy for assistant coaches. A few of you might have taken the classes. I always tried to be authentic in those sessions. I wanted guys to have a safe place to really ask questions, think, listen, and grow.

The problem was I felt like the imposter in the room. I bought what I was selling – kinda. I believed what was said – kinda. I had a coaching purpose statement on paper. Something I could show the room if it came around to me. However, it never felt real. Sometimes, it felt like what I really wanted to say couldn’t be put into a sentence.

My season of change, among many things, burned this into the walls of my heart:

I coach for the man the boy will become.

I coach to get him ready for his changes – for the currents, the tides, the rocks, and the waves. And I will do this – THIS WAY – until I do something else.

Stay open to the lessons that your season of change is trying to teach you. Otherwise, we will have the same old conversations, in the same old places, at the same old clinics.