Opinion: It’s Bigger Than Football

March 23, 2017 - 11:50 PM

For the first time in 4 years, Penn Hills High School is interviewing candidates to fill the head coaching position on the boys' varsity football team, left vacant by departing coach, John Peterman. His resignation leaves a great void in not only the program, but the community as well.

But as the administration begins its interviews, we must ask, “What personal qualities and characteristics must we demand form our next coach?”.

The job of a head coach is not just wins and losses, not just X’s and O’s. It’s about guiding the lives of young men to fulfill both their academic and athletic potential. And we must demand a head coach who is just as committed to his players off the field as on the field.

For the next coach, it has to be more than a job. It has to be a calling to help these young men develop their purpose.

The young men who take the field every week will only be as successful as the coaches, teachers and community who support them, and we must support them not only on Friday nights, but everyday they get on that bus in the morning.

We need a coach who demands strong academic performance from his players. Far too often do we see players with remarkable talents but whose grades prevent them from going to college. And while it may be pleasant to imagine, not all of the players will receive full rides on football scholarships. Therefore we must stress the importance of education and give them more of an opportunity by focusing on academics as well as athletics.

Finally, we need a coach that will demand his players live their lives off the field as they do on the field, with a love for family, pride in community, and steadfast determination for success.

If we want to be champions, we must build a champion mentality in our players. This can only be done by a coach who believes in his players and is invested in the development of their character. We as a community must ensure that those in position to hire the next head coach take these qualities into account.

Leonard Hammonds is the founder and director of the Hammonds Initiative, a non-profit dedicated to bettering communities through service, self-development, and empowerment.

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