At our year-end banquet, we send our seniors out in style and hope to leave memories that last a lifetime. My favorite part of our football banquet is when I invite our assistant coaches to the podium to recognize the seniors they had the privilege of coaching. Each coach gets the honor of speaking on behalf of one or two of their seniors and presenting them with their senior gifts. Each senior receives a replica helmet signed by every player and coach, the banner representing them that hung in our stadium during their Senior Day game, and a Christmas ornament with their name and number they can hang on their tree for many years to come.
We trust the Coach’s words reinforce the positive impact players had on our program and leave them feeling good about their impact on our team, culture, and teammates. Further, we hope the mementos offer a frequent poignant reminder of the pride they felt being a part of something bigger than themselves.
Forty years ago, at a very similar end-of-season banquet held in December 1982, I received a golden football player ornament with my name and number on it. For four decades, I have smiled while hanging that ornament on our tree. Almost instinctively, my kids always knew to leave that one for daddy. And each time, as I find the perfect spot on the tree, the memories of my time at Toms River North, the friendships forged in the locker room, hallways, and fields; the hard-fought victories earned under the lights, and the sense of pride in being a Mariner all come flooding back… The years may come and go, but the memories last a lifetime.
Forty years from now, I hope former players across the nation (and perhaps the world) smile, remember, and hang their ornaments amidst a flood of positive emotions and pride in having been a Hilltopper.
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!