Discipline... Words of Wisdom from My Coach
Yesterday I visited my high school track coach, John Morriss III. Unfortunately I had to go to the MD Anderson Cancer hospital to do it. He's on his bell lap. It's been nearly 30 years since I graduated and I hadn't seen him since his retirement party in 2005 but when a former teammate reached out to me to let me know he was there, I had to go see him.
This man was an inspiration to hundreds of young men as head track coach, serving short stints in Pasadena, Dickinson and Spring Branch before finally landing as head track coach in Pearland for 22 years where he found a permanent coaching home. It's where I met him as a Freshman in the Spring of '88. To this day I've never known anyone like him.
I could write a short novel about what coach meant to me.. he was an icon, a father-figure, a mentor, a motivator and he had a passion for running that was palpable. Ask anyone that ever ran for him. I ran for him and I wanted him to know that his passion was not wasted on me, so I worked like a diesel engine for that man. Not uncommonly to the point of failure.
As we spent a few minutes catching up he said he was surprised by how many people came to visit that he hadn't seen in years. In a weakened voice he said, "I thought I was too mean to everyone!" I replied that some of us appreciated the discipline. "That's the key to athletics." he said. Then he paused and gave me a wry smile and said, ".. if you can just get it through their thick heads."
He was still coaching me.
This can be the hard part about being a coach. You have something wonderful to share with the people under your guidance... "if you can just get it through their thick heads". I've struggled to effectively translate my passion and I know that inability has soured some folks on our gym. Their discipline did not outweigh my brashness. And that's my fault. Cause not everyone had that one great coach growing up. The one that inspired them to perform before the discipline was established. But like any athletic training, it takes time to learn. And I'm still learning. That will never stop.
We're all stuck in our ways to a degree and living in an instant gratification society with so many distractions (job, family... social media), discipline can become something easily discarded as we justify our lack of it using those distractions. I'm guilty myself. But when a man with the tenure of Coach Morriss tells you that's the key, you listen.. and you brand it in your mind.
I only had 4 brief seasons running under him but it was enough to leave a lasting impression. I hung on every word he said and it instilled a discipline for exercise that has never left me.. and has probably benefited me in ways well beyond those old track spikes.
People come into our gym for many reasons and when they truly get involved, they stick around for different reasons than why they started. But along the way a habit of discipline forms. They may not even recognize it as discipline because, for the first time, they're just having fun exercising.
When our members are visibly struggling I tell them to just keep showing up and good things will happen. They may not recognize it, but I'm encouraging that discipline that has served me so well over the years.
Success demands discipline. If you can tap into that, you can accomplish things you never thought possible.
I hope I get a chance to visit with my old coach one more time before he crosses the finish line. And I hope I haven't been too mean to you!