The energy in London is fantastic as everyone anticipates the Olympic Games. It has made me consider some of the outstanding athletes that have inspired and motivated people to do more than they ever thought possible. I thought of Jesse Owens, not only because he was a competitive runner, but because he grew up in Cleveland, OH as well (he was born in Alabama but spent most of his childhood in Cleveland). Most people know about Jesse Owens, and how he overcame the adversities of poverty, sickness and racism to become one of the best Olympians of all time. What you may not know though, is that he attributed most of his success to his High School track coach, Charles Riley. My Dad is a High School coach as well. His dedication to his athletes is remarkable. He cares for them as people, much more than he cares about their athletic abilities. He often tells me that football is more than a sport; it is a way of life. When I was younger, I understood the part about discipline- I went through double sessions in high school myself. In my mind, his athletes learned how to be on time and to listen. I don’t think I ever gave them enough credit though, until I was a bit older. They get hit hard and they work through it. They reach for the next inch, no matter who is trying to hold them down. They are in the weight room, day in and day out. They have emotions when they lose, and you can’t deny the passion in their play. I saw all of this in many athletes, including my own brothers; throughout the years my Dad has coached. No wonder why my Dad has such an enormous dedication to his athletes, when he sees the dedication they show everyday. This likely reflects the mutual relationship that Jesse had with his coach.
I think something inside a football players changes when they realize that they can get hit full force and survive it. I think they realize that they are stronger than they ever thought that they were. It’s the same feeling I had when I ran my first marathon, and looked back at the route I just completed. It’s the feeling I hope to have on October 7th. When you overcome things like that, you’re whole demeanour changes. I don’t think you can accept mediocre anymore. I don’t think you can accept not continuing to take challenges in your personal and professional life as well. More importantly however, I think it is an incredible thing that someone with as much success as Jesse Owens, was humble enough to admit that he couldn’t have gotten there without the guidance and support from someone else. Then it got me thinking, that I should thank the people who have helped me get where I am today. Also, the people who have stood by me, through thick and thin, because they believe in me. So this is a thank you to those few coaches I have had, that continue to have a phenomenal impact in my life.
"I always loved running...it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs."