Hi again everyone, as promised I am back this week with this season's edition of What I Think I Learned. Year 5 definitely brought about some new things and some firsts, some old things reared their ugly heads as well, but those will be a different story for another day. Going about this a tiny bit different than previous years because I'm including a story about one of those "firsts" to help explain a couple of the things I think I learned, enjoy.
Like I said, I had a couple of my "firsts" this year, including my first “I’m an asshole” email that I’ve had since I started coaching in Brookline. It was a good run, oh well. I'm trying to shrug it off only because I know who I am and I'm not a hardo coach, but some of the policies and methodologies can make it feel like I am. The incident that brought this about gave me two of the things I learned so I’ll briefly explain.
I’m going to call the player here Player Z because I’m not about to put names down and I’ll also withhold most finer details of what happened.
During training (practice) one day, during a contact drill Player Z took a knock to the head and it was a suspected concussion. The rule is, when in doubt, sit them out, so I withheld them from the rest of practice. Problems arose when Player Z kept trying to get back in to drills despite my telling, along with their teammates, they need to sit because of suspected concussion. The short version of the rest is, this led to me asking Player Z to leave the field for the day and make sure they are playing this sport for the right reason, something I always ask of particular players season to season.
In the following days I got aforementioned email, replied that I would be willing to talk it out with the coaches and the family. Unfortunately, no such meeting took place.
What I Think I Learned
Protecting players might get them mad- There’s a balance to this simply because of the nature of the sport, but yes for the most part players that you need to protect the most are the ones that will be annoyed with you the most. There were several times this season we either did not play certain players or pulled them early because there were major injury concerns of one nature or another. You can only protect them so much because players do get hurt, can’t be under any illusion like that. In the end, yes, some players may well hate your guts in the moment but will thank you later for protecting them.
The players have to be there for their own reason no one else’s- Often times in a season I will find myself telling the players to find their why. Anything worth doing has to have something like that behind it. This season in particular I felt there were more players than normal that were in the club because of external reasons.
-A parent played
-A sibling played
-My best friend played
All the above are perfectly fine reason to sign up, but to finish the season and give it their all, especially in a sport that can be as difficult as rugby, players need something a whole lot deeper than that.
Enjoy the moments- There are big moments and small moments to enjoy in a season. I found there were many on opposite ends of the spectrum this season in particular. Some very lopsided score lines with some not particularly good play paired with it, file that under not so good.
Then, we had a team win a semi-final and make it to the State final. The final itself did not go well, but the semi-final win was a moment we got to enjoy and nobody on that team will forget for a long long time. Yes, the big ogre did shed a few tears of joy as well. Loads of happy little moments in the aftermath of that game as well, obviously this qualifies as a great moment.
And there you have it my friends, as I mentioned a bit of a different feel, but this is what I think I learned from this club this season. Off-season commence and the days start counting down to mid March once again. Thanks again to you all for glancing your eyes at this and have yourself an awesome week and 4th of July for my friends here in the U.S.
Jarrod Dyke, CSCS