Layers of Coaching

During the season of giving, sometimes the best gifts come at no cost.  They come in visits, phone calls, texts, emails, or in this case a poem. Gifts from the heart, filled as much with creativity as with gratitude.. 

This week I received a framed photo and poem from the mother of one of our players.  We did not win a championship this year.  No rings… No plaques…  No medals. None of the outward-facing things so often attributed to success in this game, but I am so wonderfully reminded of the intangible rewards coaches so often attribute to their love of the game and their role.

This poem, titled “Layers of Coaching“, by Karen Stark is 2022’s trophy.

From the preseason,

Conditioning, strengthening, developing,

Expecting sincere effort from all,

Establishing “Hilltopper” pride.

From the practices,

Running, maneuvering, repeating,

Requiring consistency in skills

Building the best possible team.

From the sidelines,

Motioning, supporting, communicating,

Providing constant feedback,

Seeking the best from each athlete.

From the locker room,

Reviewing, encouraging, re-evaluating,

Adjusting the play calls,

Tapping into players’ strengths.

From the top of the hill,

Chanting, embracing, unifying,

Swarming toward the field,

Developing a lifelong “brotherhood”.

From the depths of the soul,

Believing, worrying, reflecting,

Trusting the process,

Allowing the team to both fall and fly.

From the heart,

Shaping, loving, nurturing,

Coaching with unmatched passion,

Inspiring the future of football.

I’m in awe of the creativity and thoughtfulness Karen shared in her words. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to coach our players and to work alongside a fabulous staff. Karen’s “Layers” analogy holds true whether across the weeks of a season, or nearly four decades of coaching experience. Layers of experience… of games won and lost, lessons learned, teams, players, parents, staff… Most of all layers of gratitude. I remain extraordinarily thankful for the opportunity to be a coach. To lead, guide, and direct student-athletes, and pay forward the investments others made in me.

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 and share with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for supporting this blog and joining our conversations, and as always, thanks for your time! 

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