Three Weeks to Change the World

by Ryan Krzykowski

Over the past three seasons, 2015-17, I was blessed with the opportunity to coach football at Mission Trail Middle School.  This fall, for a variety of reasons, I decided to step away from that role. Probably the biggest reason for the hiatus is that one of my sons is now in the 9th grade, and his freshman football games are at the same time each week as the middle school games.  I hated the thought of missing all those games, so I made the tough decision to take this year off from coaching.

When I was coaching at Mission Trail, we would begin each Monday practice in the classroom, where I would present a lesson based on a character trait that was designed to be our focus for the week.  I had gotten really good feedback on that practice from the players, and it became an integral part of our routine. But with me away, I didn’t know whether anything like that was happening this year or not.

So when my former coaching colleague Richard contacted me a month ago and asked if I could come on their Mondays and present a lesson, it was incredibly affirming.  To know that another coach on the staff appreciated those lessons enough to ask me to come back and reprise that role with the team that I wasn’t even coaching…that was pretty cool.  We decided on a 3-week series, and after leading the group through these three weeks, I wanted to share the basic template/outline of our discussions, because this is something that really anybody with access to a classroom can do with his/her team, no matter the sport.

So here goes —

Week 1: The big question — How can a football (or insert your sport here) team make a school a better place?

Show this video about a high school team that took a special needs student and made her a part of the group.

Ask the question, show the video, then have a 5-10 minute conversation about what that could look like.

Week 2: What does it mean to make a commitment?

Show this video that depicts a 9-year old boy who competes in triathlons with his 6-year old brother who is dealing with cerebral palsy.

Ask the question, show the video, then have a 5-10 minute conversation about why commitments are important and how they make a difference.

Week 3: What does it mean to be a competitor?

Show this video about the college softball team that carried an injured opponent around the bases after she hit a homerun and could not walk beyond first base.

Ask the question, show the video, then have a conversation about what competition means.  What is the highest priority? What is ultimate success? Are certain things more important than winning?

It’s pretty simple really, and I’m sure there are plenty of coaches out there who do this type of thing better than I do.  If we say that we coach for something more, for the impact we can have on lives, a short weekly lesson is an easy way to move a group in that direction.  Why not give it a shot? You’re looking at spending half an hour over a three week period, and the worst case is you’ve burned 10 minutes a week three times.  The best case is that lives are changed and that your coaching methodology will never be the same. Seems like a risk worth taking.