Friday, January 25, 2013

What will your legacy be?

While I was perusing yesterday, one of the contributers posted the following question "Legacy: How do you want to be remembered". I guess it is just a simple question on face value alone, most would probably say they want to be remembered as a "good person" or "someone that made a difference". Some people would say just the opposite, wanting to be remembered for their belongings, or wealth, or the number of times their picture was in the society pages.

When you really start thinking about it, it becomes much more complicated, because your legacy is not just how you are remembered, but even at its root definition, something that is passed onto others when you are gone.  I would venture to say that everyone has someone that they will influence in this way, whether you are influencing your children, younger family members, friends, children you have encountered, people at work that are underneath you, or someone else that will remember you or speak of you well after you are gone.

We as coaches however, thrust ourselves into this. In a profession that is often measured in shear wins and losses and championships, it is the idea of legacy thats hidden as the true undertaking of the profession.

However, is human nature, coaches undertake the endeavor from a variety of perspectives. Some coaches do only care about wins and losses. They see this as their legacy, they see this as the epitaph on the tombstone, or as a replacement for the date. (Born 120wins- Died 39 losses). However, if this is the case, Joe Paterno has the third (before vacated wins) greatest legacy in the history of football.

*1. John Gagliardi, Carroll College/St. John's University (1949-2009): 471-126-11
2. Eddie Robinson, Grambling State (1941-1997): 408-168-15
*3. Joe Paterno, Penn State (1966-2009): 394-129-3
4. Bobby Bowden, Samford/West Virginia/Florida State (1959-2009): 377-129-4
5. Amos Alonzo Stagg, Springfield College/Chicago/Pacific (1892-1946): 329-190-35
6. Paul W. "Bear" Bryant, Maryland/Kentucky/Texas A&M/Alabama (1945-1982): 323-85-17
7. Glenn Scobey "Pop" Warner, Georgia/Cornell/Carlisle/Pitt/Stanford/Temple (1895-1938): 318-106-32
8. Roy Kidd, Eastern Kentucky (1964-2002): 314-124-8
9. Forrest "Frosty" Westering, Parsons College/Lea College/Pacific Lutheran (1962-2003): 302-96-7
10 Harold R. "Tubby" Raymond, Delaware (1966-2001): 300-119-3

Does he have a positive lasting legacy? I am not one to comment on this. I did not know the man, I do not simply trust everything I read, I do think he was a good coach, there are many in Happy Valley that would attest to his legacy as a great man off the field, most however seem to feel that his legacy is forever tarnished.

I think it is safe to say as well, that many people outside of football/coaching probably do not even know who most of the people on the above list are, further validating the theory that wins and losses are not what a legacy is made up of.

Saban after National Championship

Maybe being deemed a "winner" can be your legacy however. Much has been made of Nick Saban's demeanor after the National Championship. That he would celebrate for a day and get back to work. That he could not even rejoice in one of the biggest accomplishments in sports. But maybe that legacy is one that we as coaches would all be happy to have. That we are so driven for success, that we have such an incredible work ethic, that we are so detail oriented, that there is no other fate then to be a winner.  Who out of us would not want to pass that on to our athletes, nevermind our children?

But although we all could probably answer yes to the above question, I dont think any of us (well maybe some of us coaches) want the legacy of Nick Saban, or in similar degree Bill Belichick.

So that brings us back to the original question: If you do not want your legacy to be wins and losses, or a winner at all costs, then WHAT do you want it to be?

An internet seach shows the confusion surrounding the topic. Its almost borderline "meaning of life" type quandry....or is it actually the answer to the meaning of leave something lasting after you are gone. Take an architect, their lifes work is building great buildings, and after they are gone those buildings are their legacy.   The whole question is philosophical at base. George Mason University actually offers a program to help find and guide your legacy

When I initially read the question, it brought me back to a book I read my first year coaching that I had all but forgotten about.

A book about a coach, a winner, who upon his death, brought hundreds of former players back to their hometown, to mourn him, to reminice about the times they spent together, to recap the lessons they learned on the field and from the man. (the book goes into darker sides of the coach but there is something about the story that will resonate with every kid that ever played high school ball)

I remember my first time reading this book, and thinking about my head coach, someone that I believe has already built a lasting legacy, with perhaps more to come. I remember thinking to myself, "This is why I coach, this is the impact I want to have on young people".  The same can be said of why I teach.

I came across this article as I was searching, about Coach Zigler. the coach of Boone High School in Florida, who has had his successes, and also, seemingly made a lasting impression on those whose lives he has touched. As a coach, I can only hope to have the same kind things said about me in my retirement.
And I guess with that it goes right back to the beginning....What do I want my legacy to be?

Me personally, I hope to be someone that contributed to the game in a positive way, someone that influenced others to do the same, someone that was guided with a moral compass and gave others the strength to do the same, someone that cared about the people around him and the kids under him, someone that made everyday the best it could be, someone that was seen as a leader, and a great one, someone that can someday be regarded as a great husband, father, brother, son, coach, teacher, and pardon the cliche, but someone that made the dash on the headstone count. And this then will be my legacy, passed onto others in the hopes they can carry that legacy on.


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