by Ryan Krzykowski

“Someone bothered to remember my name.  And it changed my life.”  I listened as Nathan shared these words and have thought about them often since.  Obviously a single encounter when a name was remembered wouldn’t change a life all by itself, but in this case that conversation set in motion a chain of events that led to Nathan becoming our pastor today.  So really, the whole name remembering thing wasn’t just about one man, but also about the many he has gone on to positively impact.  That’s a pretty big deal.

I hear it all the time — “I’m just not good with names.”  Certainly there’s some degree of truth to that for all of us, but at the end of the day, it’s an excuse that rings hollow.  We remember the things we care about, or at least we work to get better at things we feel are important.

A couple weeks ago I had a conversation with a student who had spoken the dreaded words, “I don’t know your name” to a classmate who had been in the same room with him for more than four months.  I encouraged this young man to imagine what it’s like to have somebody that you’ve been around for approximately 90 hours tell you to your face that they have never bothered to notice you.  That is an absolutely terrible feeling.

So what does any of this have to do with coaching?  Plenty.  Be a coach who knows people’s names.  True story, I once saw a coach in the middle of a season ask a player, “Hey 66, what’s your name?”  While most of us aren’t as bad as that guy was, we make a powerful statement when we do things like:

  • learn our players’ names as early in the season as possible, ideally on day one
  • call our players by their first name in conversation, rather than “Murphy” or “Gibson”
  • remember names of opponents, both players and coaches
  • remember names of officials

It might seem trivial, and it might not always alter the direction of someone’s life when we remember and call them by their name.  But there’s zero downside and we just never know when something small ends up making an enormous difference.

Let’s coach with purpose.