Every Player Matters

By Chris Willertz

A few years ago I got a call from a former player I had coached.  Jason was a decent player (I only coached him his freshmen and sophomore years before I moved to another school).  He was around 5 foot 4 inches, 135 lbs., but was a motivated young player.  Anyways, Jason now had just been hired to run the weight room at his former high school and he was calling me for some advice on what the workouts should look like.  We decided to meet and go over what he wanted and what I had to offer.
The following week, Jason and I met.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  He was a junior in college, 5 foot 9 inches, 175 lbs., handsome, and really put together.  He was studying engineering and had well above a 3.5 GPA.  Needless to say, he was not the little freshmen I remembered six years earlier.  It turned out that Jason had had a mildly successful career in high school, being voted captain his senior year on a marginal team.  He had walked on the football team and baseball team in college……just to prove he could do it.  And he looked like the next contestant on the Bachelor!  So we spent the next two to three hours going over training regimens, planning times to watch and evaluate each others workouts and picking each others’ brains.  We talked and talked and talked.  Little did I know that this initial meeting would be the start of a lasting friendship. I am proud to say we have become close over the past four years.  I mean really close.
My point is, How many 5 foot 4 inch, 135 lbs players do you have walking around in your program?  I bet you have a bunch!  How much time do you spend coaching them?  How much do you really care about these guys??  It’s human nature to ignore the average kid, the below average kid, the obnoxious kid, the kid who can’t make the play if his life depended on it, the quiet kid.  We love to spend time talking to the studs, to coach the studs, to invest in the studs.  But it’s in the average kid that we need to invest our time.

Obviously, as a coach we need to coach and mentor every kid.  That is every coach’s responsibility.  But why should a coach invest more in the average kid?  I think first of all is in the law of averages…….there are more average kids around.  You mentor the average kids and you’ll be mentoring a lot of your players.  You’ll get a lot of “bang for your buck”.  Average kids are ignored……often.  They are the forgotten kids.  Nobody is celebrating them at school the next day after the big win.  Typically, they don’t have a huge fan base at the games(except probably the loyal mother and grandparents who don’t know or care their kid isn’t a stud!).  They NEED your love and attention, they need the approval of an adult coach they respect.
But I think the biggest reason why you should mentor and coach the average player is because you have no idea what the kid’s future holds.  Most coaches would persuade themselves that since the kid won’t be a big stud in athletics he shouldn’t waste his time, trying to get the most out of him.  What a narrow view!  Your players, no matter what profession they choose, will have to provide leadership, demonstrate courage and conviction, give generously and sacrifice.  They will be accountants, business managers, fathers, husbands, lawyers, military officers, etc..etc..etc.  They NEED your consul, your attention, your advice, your time…..regardless of how fast they run a 40 or how much they squat.
Coaches, don’t neglect any of your players!  Remember that you have been entrusted to serve them and to help mold them into the men, God created them to be.  If you do, you will be rewarded in this life and the eternal life that follows.  Thank you Jason for the man you have become and making me realize that a 14 year old teenager is just the tip of the iceberg.  You have become a strong, virtuous man and I am so proud of you……and I am thankful for being a part of your life.
Coach Willertz
Winton Woods Wrestling  “Where we train boys into championship wrestlers and championship men!”     Faith!  Focus!  Fight!