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Each year, I am asked what I want for my birthday. As I head towards another trip around the sun, I have found that the answer is simple. The one thing anyone wants more of is love. Love around me. Love by me. Love in its purest form. Love in its grandest form. LOVE.
In order to ask for love, I must be willing to act in it first. I must be willing to call for it with my own. I can offer love in silence, but since love is good, it is to be shared. I want to give love, receive love, and be love.
For the next 30 days, I will act in love. Only in love. I will be the example of love in action. Putting it in the air will help hold me to it. If you want to join me, please do. I wont dare ask for 30 days of you. I will ask for one day. One day. 24 hours. One day of choosing love over everything else. Love of others, and of ourselves. If you choose to add love, please share it. Let love be LOUD for one day. Maybe in that day, we can only hear and see the best in us. Love is the best in us.
Love in action. Action in love. Love out loud.
Father’s Day, 2018.
This year is different. I have more love this year than before. I have always had plenty of love on this day, but this year is different. I have a different name to think of. I have a different face to think of. I have a whole new family to think of. I should think of it all, differently.
I have always had fathers and father figures in my life. I have always had family to think of, consider, and love. I have always had an idea of what the day means to me. I now have more information than before. I have more people to love than ever before.
This day is a day of celebration. This is a day for raised glasses, reclined chairs, lit cigars, cold beverages, and food made and delivered with love. This is a day for control of the remote, a favorite worn out old shirt, or a brand new unwrapped tie. This is a day of words unspoken, hugs received, smiles all around, and love out loud.
This day is for the biological dads, the step dads, the uncles in name, and the unnamed and unknown. The secret dads, the private dads, and the dads who linger in the masses trying to steal a glance from afar. This day is for the baby daddies, the uncle daddies, the coach dads, and the neighborhood dads. This day is for listening, teaching, providing, caring, redirecting, and loving.
I was never around the man I thought was my father. I believe that I can honestly say that I was around him three times that I can recall. I don’t love him any less, but I probably missed out on loving him much more. I hold no grudges. I have no regrets. I hold no grudges to the Walter’s or Jack’s of the world. They made their own choices. I made my own choices.
I have several dad figures who tried to add to my world. I should remember that this is a different time than before, and the world is different. I am who I am because of my choices and experiences. It is a great thing that I like who I am.
I have a step dad who dug his feet in, shared his heart, and fought the good fight for me. He stood next to me, he stood up for me, and he let go when he thought it was exactly what I needed at that time. He gave love, wisdom, several corny jokes, a handful of awful dances, and an amazing collection of him trying to sing. He donated his taste for Chivas Regal, his love of boxing, and his curiosity of why teams name themselves as they do. He loved me, which was all that anyone could ask. He loved me.
I now know exactly who my real father is. I could be sad that I wont ever get to meet him or shake his hand, or to exchange smiles with him. I can see him though, through my new-found family of amazing half brothers and sisters, beautiful nieces and handsome nephews, and an army of Garner men and women. I can see who he was, I can see who they are, and I can see myself in them. By knowing them, I can know him, and I can know myself.
This is a great year of life for me. The recent years have been world changing for me, and as the song says “change your obstacles into miracles” has been the constant mantra moving forward. I have been blessed with an amazing life family, an exceptional new family, and a loving marital family. And yes, I have you. I am constantly covered in love. I have had injuries and redirection. I have had pain and glory. I have had losses and victories. I am not unbeaten, but I am undefeated.
I hope that your day today is love filled. I pray that you have a loving memory of your father, your mate, your family, and your life. I will spend the day trying to honor some fathers I know. I did that today. I will do that tomorrow. I hope that they are proud.
Walter Pearson. Harold Eldridge, Sr. Roland Morgan. Robert Smith, Sr. James Garner. Darrow Kirkpatrick. Mr. Harris. Mr. Keaton.
Roy Smith. Robert Smith. Harold Eldridge, Jr.
Roy Garner. Wendell Garner. Tommy Garner.
Mr. Miller. Mr. Ethridge. Mr. Cephas. Mr. Perry. Mr. Miller. Mr. Cooper. Mr. Harris. Mr. Harris.
Mr. Dunlap. Mr. Livingston. Mr. Mullen. Mr. Wilson. Mr. Terrell. Mr. Baker. Mr. Pulliam. Mr. James. Mr. Bellamy. Mr. Price. Mr. Rosenthal. Mr. McGee. Mr. Butler. Mr. Williams. Mr.
Coach Laravie. Coach McKinney. Coach Holland. Coach Saunders. Coach Blackwell. Coach Reid. Coach Norwood. Coach Machen. Coach Garcia. Coach Houser. Coach Arbetman. Coach Noe. Coach Dwyer. Coach Ramsey. Coach Walker. Coach Cross. Coach Catoe. Coach Harrison. Coach Posati. Coach Cauthen. Coach Thompson. Coach Caffi. Coach Warren. Coach Craig. Coach Tabrizi. Coach Marshall. Coach Hoskins. Coach Johnson. Coach Hawes. Coach Larouche. Coach Crabb.. Coach Davila. Coach Carter. Coach Fields. Coach Gray. Coach Boudreaux. Coach Austin. Coach Milham. Coach Farrow. Coach Walker. Coach Bentley. Coach Willis. Coach Woods. Coach Pulliam. Coach Carrington. Coach Clements. Coach Glascock. Coach Hunter. Coach Smith. Coach Gold. Coach Jenkins. Coach Larkin. Coach Levin. Coach Leslie. Coach Matagi. Coach Gray. Coach Imbrescia. Coach Landrum. Coach Wykoff.
To all of my dads who love, and all of my dads who try to love. Thank you. To all of the dads who let me inside the gate, onto the front porch, in the front door, onto the couch, to the dinner table, to shoot hoops in the driveway, have something cold to drink or something hot to eat, and for loving me enough to tell me what I needed to know, even when it wasn’t always what I wanted to hear. For loving me. For loving someone like me. For loving someone else’s kid who needed you.
LovePrints is the collection on love on any one person, place, or thing. It is the accumulation of actions in love, and the resulting love from action. LovePrints is the presence of love in us, and the choice to share love with others.
Scholastic sports seasons end in June, and there is a short window before the begin in August. Some of you will meet new coaches, and some with revisit with coaches from the year before. There will be individual and team camps, solo workouts and group drills. There will be weight sessions, cardio evaluations, and film study. There is no off season. There is only improvement season.
As parents, there are questions. What I suggest is organizing your thoughts now so that when the time comes, you are prepared to ask the right questions to the right person at the right time. These are not all the questions, but they should help in determining what you need to ask your young persons coach.
Remember, each coach has a full schedule, and a voicemail and email box full of parents and players asking questions. A simple email suffices if you do not have a question the requires immediate answers. (No, what cleats should be purchased is not an immediate answer kind of deal) Also consider this: It may be your child’s dream to play in the league, but it is everyone’s dream to play in the league. The coach must answer to anywhere from 10 to 100 parents, and as you stand up for your child, there are 100 other parents standing up for theirs. Coaches love players with respectful parents. (MESSAGE!)
Here are some questions that may provide you with insight and information about the coach, the team, and the program.
Ask the coach who they are.
What does the coach need/want from you as parents?
What the most important thing?
What is the academic mission/plan?
What is the motto of the program?
Why do you coach?
How important is winning to the coach?
What is the protocol for injuries?
Who talks to the teachers and why?
Who is the trainer?
Can you have a list of the team rules?
These are just starter questions. Feel free to add your own. If you ask these questions, others will come to mind. If you don’t ask, you will find yourself asking these questions every day of the season. Ask away.
LovePrints. From bat boys to men.
When done properly, LovePrints is a mutual exchange of the good in us to another. It is a conscious choice to be active for the better in us. When done properly, everyone is forward on their path, and they are headed up from where they are. In this case, I got to witness the growth of a former bat boy, to an amazing young man.
As a coach and as a man, I wish that I could be everywhere at once. Its just not possible. I have young people all over the globe who are having special events and ceremonies. In spirit, I am at each one, cheering at the top of my lungs. I stand for them in celebration, and I rejoice in their successes. I really wish that I could be at them all. They are all wonderful stories. I thought I would share this one.
I did get to attend one such graduation, and as they are all special, I find myself reflecting once they are over. This family is special. The Walsh family is spectacular in how openly loving they are. Intelligent, brilliant in spirit, worldly, and still familiar. They are joyful and good. Special is the word that most often comes to mind.
I met the young Master Walsh as a bat boy for a high school team in Virginia. When he came to introduce himself to me, he had this smile on his face that let me know that everything I had read about him in the letter of reference was true. He was bright, athletic, and he loved the game of baseball. An odd thing happens when adults are around those type of young people. The adult grows. I had simple tasks for myself as a coach, and the top of them is to keep the young peoples smiles bright. Don’t screw it up. Add to. Love him. Pretty simple.
He was my worker bee. He was on top of the drills, he participated in the practices, he was a wonderful addition during games, and he paid attention to what I said and did. For a coach, the part about paying attention is big. I need to make sure that my actions are good for him. Do they make him better? Do they help him? Is it good?
I never got to coach him as a varsity player. We both moved from Virginia to Texas, and as fate would have it, the same community. He attended a public school while I coached at a private one, but we stayed in touch. I got to hear about his task of making new friends in a college sized public school, his decisions on playing ball or singing, his eyes toward college and everything that came to mind.
He had an issue with his transfer from Virginia, and the 4.0 GPA system in Virginia created problems in the 5.0 Texas GPA system, so he had some serious work to do to reach academics levels to go where he wanted for college. We talked about the process and his struggles, which to me were landmarks and successes. He would come and walk with me. Those walks let me know that no matter what was put in front of him, his family had prepared him for it. He was going to be fine. He was going to be exceptional. He already was.
I was invited to attend his graduation with his family, and I felt extremely proud watching the evening move along. My bat boy had become a man. He had found a way to excel. He had found a way to shine. Let me tell you this, in a night of stars, his shine was as bright as any other. I got to listen to his family, and I certainly have a great understanding of how this happens. Great families make great people. Great people make great families. This is true for the Walsh family.
Congratulations, to you and your graduates, no matter where they are graduating from. Well done., parents. Well done, students. Well done, teachers. Well done, coaches.
Congratulations, Mr. Walsh. The University of Texas will be better because you will be there. They can’t be ready for you, because you are ready for them. Go and be epic. I will be here, cheering.
Just don’t lock your keys in the car. Mom can’t be there in ten minutes.
Thank you for your LovePrints. I expect to see them all over Austin, Texas.
LovePrints. The answer to why we do what we do. LovePrints. Leaving things better than we found them. The elevation of another. The forward movement of a potential. The upward possibility enabled by you. The hand, acting in love. The heart, active in why. The constant pursuit of the greater us. The greater you.
Year after year, I left parts of my heart and pieces of my body all over the country. Year after year, I was covered in love by the people I was supposed to be there to love. I gave so much and received so much more that I gave. I am a better man than I was because I asked, often demanded, that those around me tried to be better men. Better women. Better parents. Better coaches. Better humans.
Each year, my players would write letters. It was one of the tasks I gave them. Write more. Share yourself to the people who love you. Through those tasks, I often opened the door to athletes writing letters to me. Every now and then, they end up being about me.
If you ever want an honest mirror, ask young people who know you, about you. Be prepared for gut punches and head smacks. Every now and then a player puts pen to pad and speaks to move your heart. Here is one such letter from a former player and future world leader. I have to make sure that I am worthy of a young person’s words about me. I try to put my Loveprint on them. This one put Loveprints on me. If I only get one athlete to move in love, we win. If both the player and I are moved, we have achieved something special.
LovePrints is leaving love wherever we are. Making each thing better than we found it. One person at a time. One act at a time. Cover each thing in love, so that nothing else can stick.
“I “vs. “Us”. “Me” vs. “We”.
We have the greatest country on the planet. We built it to last. To do so, we must remember the “we” part. Th “us” part is incredibly important to our thriving and surviving. Together, we can solve any problem, we can fix any issues, and we can collectively thrive. Less me. More we. I am a part of us. We are better when we think of us rather than ourselves.
When school shootings happen, we zealots do harm, we ask what’s wrong with THEM. We should ask “what’s wrong with us?” That will get us closer to the truth. THEY only do what WE allow, teach, and celebrate. Let’s change the base element of the problems and how they are addressed. HE is one of US. We must remember this. It will help us heal.
When someone takes a weapon and does harm, it is not a THEY problem. When a child takes a gun in hand and injures someone, WE have failed. WE have an issue. WE need to fix it. WE need to accept responsibility. WE must remove blame and move to ownership. THEY are ours. WE need to do better.
If there is a problem in the community, its up to all of us to own it and handle it. Remove the finger pointing, eliminate the name calling, and let us all get to work to right the wrong. WE aren’t whole if one of us, some of us, aren’t connected, considered, and loved. The truth is, no community is whole if it does not consider its unhealthy and needy as a part of its function. No family can leave its children alone to raise themselves. Its not one THEM. Its on US.
No one in our house can be unloved. No one in our community should feel disconnected. No one in our schools should feel alone. No one in our circle should feel as if they are not one of us. Not one of us should labor by themselves. We need to get connected, stay connected, and celebrate the connections. We need to get loved, stay loved, and celebrate the love in us all.
As we have our discussions over what it wrong, what needs fixing, and who is to blame, let’s redirect ourselves to what we can do, what will we do, and how will we do it. What’s wrong with those kids? What is the problem with those people? We need to do something about them. Change them all to serve our greater mission, our greater purpose. What is wrong with OUR kids? What is the problem with OUR people? What will we do for US. We can accomplish anything, together. It is difficult to accomplish anything, apart.
I am a coach. If my teams consisted of selfish players, there is no way to succeed or win.
If there is a problem, it is OUR problem. If there needs to be a solution, WE are the solution.
We need to cover each other in love. That will fix most things. We can make us better.
No more blaming. Own it. We deserve a better us. Together.
Why do we coach?
In every coaching interview that I have ever given or been on, the question has come up in some way or another. Why do you coach? There have been as many answers as interviews, and while some good answers are given, some bad ones are given as well. There might not be a perfect answer, but the coach should have some idea of why they want the job. They should have some idea of why they will succeed at the job. If they don’t know why they want to job, it is unlikely that they know how to be successful at it.
I can’t speak for all coaches. I won’t speak for all coaches. I know why I coach, and there are several reasons. There are some jobs that have winning games as the focus, and there are some that place character as the priority. Some coaching positions are at schools or with teams that don’t care about academics, and some that are faith based. There is a constant for me. I only seek coaching jobs where the focus is known and honored. This is important.
Coaching is love. Coaching is caring. Coaching is teaching. Coaching is support. Coaching is being present. Coaching is being prepared. For me, the first thing is important thing I need to know is why. Why do you need me? Why should I coach with/for you? Why?
I coach out of service. It is an easier space to work in if service is the top priority. I can’t coach and think of myself first. I need to be excited about building something. I need to feel like I am not really working. I need to feel like I’m adding. I need to feel like I am a part of something bigger than myself. I need to know that todays work is a part of the greater process, and that my input is a part of a greater plan. I need to consider those young people I am coaching more than I consider myself. I need to think of them first. Always.
The ability to see the greater version of people is a gift. I can see past flaws and weaknesses. Those are correctable. Those are temporary. It is a blessing to be able to see a diamond when it’s just coal. The diamond is simply waiting for a change of environment to recreate itself in its greater form. It requires pressure and friction, and it requires someone to dust it off and place it in a perfect setting to shine.
I learned long ago that when I coach from this place, everything else that can be a focus is easy. When I remember them first, I take care of the small details. I prepare better. I plan better. I adjust better. I correct better. I teach better. I applaud louder. I love stronger.
When a coaching position opens, ask what the job is. Is it winning? Ask questions. What is winning? What is acceptable standards for winning? What is success? What is the task each day?
I coach to serve. I coach to teach. I coach to remove mistakes. I coach to strengthen. I coach to learn. I coach to share. I coach to win. I coach to love.
The question is, why do you coach?
“Losing family obliges us to find our family. Not always the family that is our blood, but the family that can become our blood. Should we have the wisdom to open our door to this new family, we will find that the wishes we had for the father, who once guided us and for the brother, who once inspired us…”
Finding Forrester has always been one of my favorite films. It is a film that changes itself around me, whenever I see it. It molds itself around me, and then it leaps into the holes and fills them in with energy. It moves my heart differently each time I see it, and I grow every time it bumps up against me.
I would not dare try to change the words that speak so perfectly. It would be a travesty to do so. What I want to do is pay tribute. I would love to use those words to create my own.
If you read the words from the film, it begins with losing family. If you are never changed by losing family, you are not alive. Part of each loss is to stand firmly as the world around you move and rotate. Being prepared for the new you that will come from it is the purpose. Losing family will punch you in the gut, kick you while you’re down, sucker punch you in the jaw, or stab you in the back. It cares not what your current state is. It is there to change you. It is there to make you different.
Losing family is the fork in the road. It requires a decision of what is to come next, and it is never easy. You can hide your head in the sand, close your eyes and act blind, or you can open your eyes and elevate your head to the sky. You can try to keep the heartbeat low, or you can let it beat like the drum of life itself. That is the fork in the road that changes us, we can’t stay where we are. It matters too much.
As the first line above says, “losing family obliges us to find our family.” There is a hole that now has a place in the vital parts of us. Love as a vacuum requires that we are aware of its new deficit. It is called a loss for a specific reason. We have.
In some cases, the universe is waiting for us to acknowledge that negative so that a positive can take its place. In my case, a lifetime door closed became open. I had a door opened that turned wishes into reality. I am not sure that I could ever ask to have more love. I am not sure that it would have made any sense. What I know now is that loss family found is far greater than I ever could have wished. What I know now is that family, whether blood or life experience family, can’t be taken away.
For each of our families, once they are ours, they are forever. If you closed your eyes and sat quietly for a moment. (Go ahead, I will wait)
You just smiled at someone you love. They just smiled at you. They are with us.
I am blessed to have recently find more family. All of the things that I never dreamed of, but better than anything I could have ever hoped for. It did not take family away, it gave me more family. Everything that existed before, still exists for me. Within me. What I have that is new is not better. It is its own perfect. What I had before is not less. It is its own perfect. What I have lost and what I have found are both LOVE. What I have lost and what I have found are both ME.
The scene closes with another line. “… The only thing left to say will be: “I wish I had seen this, or I wish I had done that, or I wish…”
I dare not wish for more. This love lost and found is far greater than any love I could wish for.
If I was going to measure my time on this planet, I would hope to be measured by the amount of love I left while I was here. Did I leave each thing more covered in love than I found it? Did I attempt to action in love? Did I make things better? Was I present in my interactions? Did I leave a lasting print of love on the people I meet? Did I love?
The questions are simple. You know the answer when asked. The speaking engagements that I have been honored to speak at have all been opportunities to love more, in word and in action, than ever before. These events put me in a circle of people who may or may not know me. It is my task to add smiles, add hugs, and ultimately, add love. It is my job to close the space in the room. I find that it is easier to do so if I am adding love to that space. It is a labor of love. It is amazing to get into a space and attempt to fill that space with more love, no matter who the people are.. It can be exhausting sharing the energy of any mass of people, but when the energy is love, it is the greatest form of energy. It is the best form of energy. It fills the room the most authentically. It also lasts longer. Love travels well.
Speeches are love out loud. Each time I grab a microphone or take a stage, I feel like I have a responsibility to add happiness. To add love. Each event is an action in love. Each one is love in action. I may not reach everyone, but the ones that I do reach are left better than I found them. That is what love is for.
These photos are from the Unity Day event at the Altria Theater in Richmond. I was invited to give the keynote speech to a room of a thousand people, and I must say that I received more smiles and hugs after the event than any other event I have ever spoken at (because I had access to the people afterwards). It is powerful to put love into the air and watch it take over a space and the people in it. I understand the chemical reaction that performers get in front of a crowd of people. It is a rush, and it changes you for the better.
To have that chemical be love based is the highest level of happiness. A room filled with love and good is a vacuum of that same love. I look forward to the next room filled with love. There is no space that love cannot fill. I will be there, adding love. I hope to see you there!
Thank you, Virginia Department of Transportation for allowing me to add love to your employee’s day. They certainly added love to my day.