I know its been a while since I last wrote here. A lot has happened but I'm back and ready to start writing again.
As you know I was the head coach at Holy Spirit High School in New Jersey where we appeared in the last 3 state championship game winning one. (This year we played 9 freshmen in the game.) I say "was" because right after the season (In fact the morning after the championship game as I arrived at school I was relieved of my duties. Knew it was coming though as they always wanted an alumni here. (I told the principal my third day on the job that I would be fired in three to four years due to this and my replacement was brought into the school last spring.)
But there is a silver lining in everything. The fact was the job was tearing me up. I was doing everything - 18 hours days - no life. I wanted so bad (too badly) to be accepted and finish out my career here. Not for anything in the school just for me at this age. Mentally I was exhausted. I let the job consume me. Physically, I was a mess. I had torn something in my shoulder in practice but did not report it because there was nobody to take over the team. We were losing at the time and nobody but me was going to take the blame or right the ship. Additionally, I had done something to my foot but limped on.
(Since the season, I have had major surgery on my shoulder and am getting my foot looked into with possible surgery.)
I am saying this not to act as a martyr or to try and redirect blame, I am writing it as I write everything else on this blog - as a lesson for other coaches.
I had let my desire to "fit in" override everything I was. In the end you can't be somebody you're not. It will only make you angry at the one person you must face everyday - yourself. As I result I became a very angry man and did not handle the situation this year well.
The lesson is to all coaches - there has to be a time to put yourself first. Forget about what other people and your commitment to the program. (this part is hard for most good coaches) Your health and your mental well being is more important. Put your faith in your beliefs and not in other people. (as I get older and older I trust administrators less and less. Three weeks before my firing I asked them outright and was told there was nothing in the works even though it was all the internet by alumni. Even stating the date and time it would occur.) Take care of yourself as a coach - nobody else will look out for you.
The second lesson is one I should have learned a long time ago. "A lie left unanswered becomes the truth." I, as many of you would took the high road and resigned for "health reasons." If you are ever put in this situation - forget etiquette! Be blunt and be honest because everybody will read into the situation. (I once left a very high paying job because the union wanted me to fire good high paying coaches and replace them with people I had already fired for laziness. I took the high road - it was because "it was time" Well everybody read into it. I still face the ramifications and questions about leaving that job.) So be true to yourself and fight till the end. As Winston Churchill said countries that go down fighting come back to be reborn; those that surrender meekly and littered throughout history never to reappear.
The third lesson - As my principal said you can't beat city hall! I had been offered interviews for two very good jobs my second year. Knowing that I would be fired I decided "they can't beat me!" I will force myself on them by shear success. This isn't reality. In truth even though I talked to the administration about my position and was reinforced I was in good shape I could have stepped back and seen this wasn't the realty. I should have at least looked into the situation. Again, if you're out there - TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.
So here I am know. The dust has settled. My shoulder is healing. My drive restored. Truth is I love this game. Was never a great athlete but still loved this game. I want now more then ever to coach again. I want to get back to the person I am - one who teaches young men how to succeed. Not one who caters to premiere athletes. One that has kids that overachieve and understand the value and meaning of effort, discipline, and teamwork. The problem is finding a new position. I haven't been able to even get interviews for jobs I wouldn't even consider before. The "lies left unanswered" lie out there as the truth.
Final lesson: I have come full circle with this firing. As I use to tell friends who are bitter about not getting a job they definitely deserved, it is their job! They own it! they can do what they want with it. For 4 months I was as bitter and hateful as can be but I realized THIS IS ALL WASTED ENERGY! I wasn't doing anything in the football world! I wasn't doing anything to make myself better! I wasn't doing anything to help my situation! All I was doing was going into a little hole to absorb my hurt! I was doing the opposite of what I taught the kids. As they say in Rocky VI (a bad film but it fits!) "I didn't hear no final bell!!!!!"
So I'll get back on here. Doing what I love - talking about the greatest game ever known and waiting.
I plan to start writing again and also finally finish the first volume of the option series of books.
PS If any of you know any positions - please let me know
First article next week