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Coach Smith. Coach Smith is a middle school football coach in the coaches' office right before practice begins. He is grabbing his whistle and making sure the last players are out so he can lock up. It has been a long day in the classroom; he has answered hundreds of questions and solved countless problems for his students. If he can just get to the field and coach some football... Just as he is leaving the office to head out to the field, a timid, seventh-grade 'B team player pops his head in the door and says, 'coach, I can't find my pads.' Coach Smith does not do what his instincts tell him and say, "dadgummit, Dylan, I don't have time to deal with this right now! You are always having an issue. Now, we are both going to be late to the field..." You can finish the rest of what Coach Smith would like to say to Dylan. Dylan isn't sure if he likes football. He is 'testing the waters'. It is a hot, August afternoon and he can think of a lot of other things he could be doing at home in the air conditioning. There are twenty-two football coaches in the 'Jones' I.S.D. program, but Coach Smith is the most important of all the coaches because he handles this situation correctly instead of giving in to frustration. "Ok, Dylan. Let's go in there and find your pads so you and I can both get out to the field." They go in and discover Dylan's pads were there all along. They were just in the locker beside Dylan's locker (every coach reading this can relate, I know).

Instead of losing his cool, Coach Smith gave Dylan some grace. He treated him like he would want someone to treat his son in the same situation. Dylan now feels like he has a coach who will come to his rescue when he needs it.

Football can be a 'learned appreciation' for some. It is a tough game, played in hot gear in hot weather. In any program, the middle school coaches are the most crucial on the entire staff because their attitudes about dealing with kids like Dylan will either keep them in or drive them out. There are tons of low-self esteem kids who need patience and love.

Thank you to every 'Coach Smith' we have in the profession. Thank you for coming to their rescue and being their heroes.

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