Recently I was driving to the DC-area to conduct applicant fitness testing for a client and I happened upon a public radio station. Before anybody tries to drum me out of the Conservative Men's Club appreciate that this afforded me a break from the ranting NYC sports channels going off on the latest Jets performance the day before. The NPR piece was a discussion about an upcoming Sports Illustrated Cover Article about homeless high school athletes.
After 22 seasons as track coach at a private, Catholic high school, I moved to the public high school, in the same town. We had a great run but I really needed to down shift a little on my responsibility level and this opportunity has allowed me to just focus on coaching the throwing events. One of the first things that struck me about my new home was the stark difference between nature of the kids' needs. It won't come as a bulletin that all kids, especially adolescents, have significant needs: reassurance, guidance, safety, the chance to challenge themselves and to grow. But many kids also need the consistent example of a male figure; they need to understand the value of a high school education (!); they need a good meal.
Needless to say, I was motivated to listen in to the conversation. I haven't read the article yet but one of the points missing in the conversation was this: sports allow a different playing field. For the time you're with your teammates, working with coaches, and putting it out there, it doesn't matter how many parents live at home, what the address is, or how your situation stacks up against the other people on your team. Athletes have a chance to remake themselves, each day they show up to practice, every game, and as the SI article suggests, maybe they can remake themselves for life.
USA Track & Field, the governing body for amateur T&F in this country just announced this year's Hall of Fame Class. Its a great group that illustrates more than achievement. The individuals included overcame adversity in several different forms and in remaking themselves, they helped to remake their sport a little bit. Their stories make for a good read - particularly the two throwers, though I'm a little biased! Have a look.
USA Track & Field - USATF announces 2014 Hall of Fame Class.
Stay Safe, Strong