Few things can put me on a high like a good sports movie. There’s nothing like the emotional roller coaster of seeing a team you’ve fallen in love with on screen lay it all on the line, game after game. The setbacks are unbearable; the victories, jump-off-the-couch incredible. And when the underdog (usually) wins in the end, surmounting all those insurmountable odds? It’s a swelling of irrational pride, as sure as if you scored the final, triumphant point yourself.
For me, “Miracle” and “Remember the Titans” top the list. I cannot hear the song “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” by The Hollies without seeing the 90-second montage of the Titans, finally having emerged as a united front, crushing opponent after opponent as the entire school and town celebrates. I smile just thinking about it.
Sports move us. It may be just a game, but it means something bigger to those of us on the field and in the stands. And if you think about any sports movie and what makes it great—what makes the team great—it’s not just the players. It’s the coach. Could the Titans have won state without Coach Boone? Could the USA hockey team have conquered Russia without Coach Brooks? No. Because coaches have the power to inspire a team—to make players believe they can aim higher, dream bigger and push further. Witnessing that kind of belief unfold is the very thing that moves us most.
At Texas A&M, a new program is underway that will produce coaching legends of its own, whether for Monday night prime time or Friday night lights. Housed within the Thornton-McFerrin Coaching Academy in the College of Education and Human Development, the Veterans Coaching Program will train military veterans for coaching careers. The program’s curriculum will foster coaches as equally experienced in the technical skills of their sport as the soft skills needed to create strong teams, promote mental health and develop leaders of character.
What’s not to love about that? The world needs more good coaches. So many people, if asked who they consider a mentor in their formative years, recall a coach as one of their foremost role models. And it seems veterans, armed with skills like principled discipline and decisive leadership, are perfectly cut out for the job.
You can read more about the program and the support it needs to maintain momentum in this issue’s Opportunity feature. As you read, consider this: We all need people on the sidelines we can look up to. Isn’t it a bonus if they’re an Aggie to boot?
Dunae Reader ’15
Editor, Spirit magazine