This weekend, we will gather for our year-end football banquet. Like most teams, we will thank our players, coaches, parents, and administrators. We will recognize those players who most exemplify the character and values our team holds highest. We will reflect on and celebrate the successes of the season. We will motivate returning players for next season and remind them of the dedication and sacrifice required in preparation. We will also hand out Varsity letters and pins to those players who earned them this season. As our staff puts together the list of lettermen, I am reminded of the poem “The Man on the Bench.” The poem recognizes the rewards of playing football far exceed the material things we may receive on the night of the banquet. An edited version of that poem follows:
The man on the bench is the man for me
He’s not the star, but he’s the key.
Without his aid and help each day,
I doubt if there would be a play.
He comes to the banquet with a little prayer,
Hoping this year the “letter” is there.
As he squirms wishfully in his chair.
And he suffers a little along with his coach,
As the names are read and no approach
Is made to him there is a wrench
In his heart. But his teeth will clench,
As he says, “next year”, this man on the bench.
What happens to all the men like these.
Who seem all elbows, thumbs, and knees.
Don’t feel sorry for their frustrations,
They are the men who head corporations,
And sit on the councils of great nations
They learn the value of raw sheer grit, The determination that won’t say quit
To the man on the bench, I give my hand With the greatest respect, ’cause he’s my man,
Please don’t worry, he’ll go far
Somewhere in life, he will be a star.
I’ve seen many players overcome adversity over the years. In many ways, their grit, determination, and resilience amaze me more than “All-League Honors” or “Championships.” Some of my very closest friends and I share four years playing together with only a handful of wins. I’d like to think we found some of the same purpose, dedication, and resilience displayed by “the man on the bench” in overcoming our own adversity. If outcomes are any measure, amongst the players he and I both describe, the author’s forecast of success despite adversity, is right on target.
Coach Rich Alercio is available to discuss coaching philosophy, X’s & O’s, or teach his O-Line “techniques in the trenches.” Contact Coach at firstname.lastname@example.org and share http://www.olineskills.com with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for supporting this blog and joining our conversations, and as always, thanks for your time!