Coaches play a vital role in the development of a child, both on and off the courts/fields. They are influential in the personal development of each child they coach. I know this to be true because my coaches had such a great influence on my own character development.

When I was a teenager, I kept a piece of paper that stated the definitions of the words “character” and “reputation,” in the front plastic cover of my favorite binder throughout my high school years. This simple paper, given to me by my high school football coach, Everett Woods, reminded me on a daily basis of the importance of both distinct concepts, both in sports and in daily life.

The difference between character and reputation has impacted me even today as I coach. Reputation is defined as “who people think you are” or “how you conduct yourself when people are looking.” But character is defined as “who you are” or “your values when people are not around.” As a player and later a coach, I have always tried to make sure that my character is the most important aspect of my life.

Over the years, I have found that the concept of character means so much more than the definition stated above. I tell the teams that I coach, true character is not revealed when things are going well, but when a situation is going poorly. Do you blame others for your mistakes? Do you make the effort to correct the situation? In my opinion, how you respond to a situation is a true indication of who you are and your values.

A great example of this is the Varsity Girls’ Basketball team this season. In terms of win and loss record, we are having a “down” season. However, the character that these seven girls have shown during the course of the season is more important than the record. Whether times are good or bad, they play for each other and give it their all on the court. They never blame each other, they show tremendous heart, and they try to find the positive in the negative.

For these reasons, I know that life after basketball will be okay for these ladies. When life throws them lemons they will make lemonade. That’s true character.

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