With a day off from practice, I've been reflecting on this soon-to-be-concluded basketball season, and I thought I'd inflict those reflections on you, my captive audience!
First, about recruiting. The life of a college coach revolves around the never-ending recruiting schedule. Michelle is in southern Illinois tonight watching one of our top recruits play in the Sectionals, while I saw a game closer to home. In a typical week, we are out four nights, playing the other two nights, and taking Sunday's off. In addition, we've had about 30 players on campus for a visit. I enjoy the work for the most part, but the travel and time away from home wears on my 57 year old body after awhile.
So people who think this is a glamorous life are both right and wrong. Yes, it is great to be able to do nothing but coach, which is why I got out of high school ball in 1991. I'd never be able to do what you public school coaches do, teaching all day and then coaching in the afternoons, and evenings, and early mornings, and summers, etc, etc. So I really do respect the people who can do all that and keep it in balance, because I'm not one of them.
But although it's not all fun and games at the college level, it has been a good fit for me, given my basically lazy nature. When I was coaching in Texas in the 1980s, the head football coach at our high school once commented about a player on his team who had finally settled on a position. I think they put the kid at linebacker, where he was flourishing, and our coach remarked, in that droll way that football coaches talk: "I think Julio Sanchez has finally found his niche in life."
For better or worse, my niche in life is college coaching. Last year, everything caught up with me at Olivet.... the travel, the recruiting, the self-imposed pressure to build and maintain a championship program. If we'd have had a sabbatical program at ONU, I might have taken a year off, recharged my batteries, and stayed there forever. But that's not how it works.
Instead, I've recharged by working at NCC for a very considerate young head coach, as low-key (but admittedly time-consuming) situation which has been made coaching fun again. In the absence of the pressure that goes with being in charge, I've settled into a routine of games, practices, and recruiting, and for the first time in years feel relaxed again. Based on that experience, if I could pass along any words of wisdom to those readers among you who are a bit younger, it would be this...
It's not the time we put in that wears us out, it's the pressure we put on ourselves. So relax, smell the roses, enjoy the game. Hopefully the System has lessened that pressure for you. Hopefully, the System is your niche in life.