Know Who They Are

by Ryan Krzykowski

In the summer of 2020 I had a conversation with my 7-year old niece, and she told me about her favorite kind of ice cream.  I filed away the knowledge, and a few months later I showed up at their house with a tub of that special flavor as an 8th birthday gift.  It was a huge hit, and we’ve kept up the tradition every year since.  Last week I stopped by with not only the tub of ice cream, but also a box of ice cream bars that I heard was also a favorite.  Even though this young lady is now 11, the treats continue to have an impact, and I’m thinking there are two reasons for that.

First, what kid doesn’t love having her own ice cream?  But also, I have to imagine that it feels good to be remembered, to be seen.  I don’t have a ton in common with 5th grade girls, but simply by asking her about ice cream a few years ago, the two of us have something to bond over, at least once a year.  It’s probably not a huge deal in the scheme of things, but it’s not nothing either.

What does this have to do with coaching?  I didn’t put this together until very recently, but as our high school football season has come to an end, I’m planning individual recap meetings with each of the 14 players in my position group.  And inspired by my ice cream loving niece, I figured I can ask these guys to tell me their birthday and a favorite candy/treat.  So on their birthdays, they’ll get a text from me and a little something to eat.  Not a big deal.  Not hard to do — but something that communicates they are remembered and seen, whether we’re in season or not.  After they graduate, I’ll keep the birthday list handy and give them a call when the day comes.  That’s easy.

I figure if you’re reading this, you’re quite possibly the kind of coach who was way ahead of me on an idea like this, but if not, why not give it a shot?  Seems like a pretty simple and painless way to show the players we serve that they’re more than a jersey.

Let’s Coach With Purpose…