I have written that coaching children is a noble endeavor. It is. There are a select few adults in this world for whom parents will entrust their children outside of their own circle. A coach is one of them. This speaks volumes on the importance of this position. If only for a few hours out of the week, a coach’s influence on the development of a child is significant. They will never replace us as parents but for a short period of time they will help shape the lives of our kids.

I’m not writing this on the so called “bad coach” which I think is a relative term. Not to say there are not bad coaches out there but sometimes one person’s bad coach is another person’s John Wooden.  I am writing this on the coaches that inspire children, the ones who do not take the significance of their role lightly. They are the men and women who will leave an indelible mark on the lives of kids to be passed down by generations.  They will be quoted by their students well into adulthood and their techniques and teachings will be used by our children to coach our grandchildren.  Those are the coaches I am referring to in this post.

They will endure harsh emails, phone calls and attend private parent meetings. They will be loved and even hated but they will be steadfast in their mission.  That mission is to teach and lead our children on the safe and successful application of the game, whichever game that is, and to make sure they are having fun doing it. That is not an easy task nor is that description complete.  They will act as babysitters, psychologists, disciplinarians and even surrogate parents.  They will be given “advice” by every expert coming down the pike and their actions will be questioned to the smallest detail yet they are the ones out there. They are the ones volunteering to mentor our children and give of their time not us.

I do have the privilege of knowing the type of coaches I am referring to in this writing.  These are men who gave their time to coach and mentor MY children.  Their names include: Earl Lee, Mike Ombres, Duwanye Poston, Steve Ferraro, Shaun Carey, Vernon Cavanaugh, Greg Kelly, Ken McLaughlin, Mark Ledyard, Scott Kuharski, and Todd Harrison. I have no doubt my boys will remember them long into adulthood and will fondly and even jokingly recount their experiences on their teams.  I am confident their influences will help shape my boys to become the type of men to make us all proud.

I left one particular coach off the above list which is the real reason I am writing this post. His name is Brandon Pelt. He was my oldest son’s football coach for 8 seasons, spring and fall, and my good friend. After 18 years he has decided to hang up his whistle and retire from coaching. If he just decided to stop because his sons were moving on then this would not be as significant. We all plan on moving on when our children do but coach Pelt taught football years before and after his kids’ youth sports tenure. That enters him into the select group of volunteers who do this for the love of coaching and children. I know a few of those volunteers including Tracy Carter, Thomas Sacco, the aforementioned coaches: Vernon Cavanaugh, Greg Kelly, Mark Ledyard, Duwayne Poston and especially Earl Lee who has been doing it for over 20 years.

Pelt is the quintessential Texas football coach with an intensity and passion like no other.  His knowledge of the game is astounding and he could easily coach at the high school or collegiate level.   He is a “no nonsense” guy who believes the bar should be constantly raised for our children.  He expects greatness from them because he truly believes they are capable of it and will hold them accountable if they do not attain it. He does not believe in entitling any child and has rubbed many a parent the wrong way but those of us who believed in those same core values stayed because we knew our boys were learning something much more than football. They were learning how to become men.

You cannot miss him. Whether he is the head coach or not he is a presence on the field and takes command the minute he steps on the turf. The boys respond to him like I’ve never seen before in my lifetime.  They hang on every word and show him the utmost respect. If coach Pelt said it then it was so. He is not afraid to show his emotions towards these boys both in frustration and praise.  He is the ultimate cheerleader and his pregame speeches are the stuff of football legend. He had a way of talking to the kids and always had some off the cuff, funny one liners we would call “Brandonisms” to lighten the air.  He cares for them deeply, often referring to them as his “babies”, choking up whenever he spoke of them.

Like I said he expects greatness of his players and has the skill to bring that out of them.  I never believed 9 year olds could learn the advanced complexities of the game but they did and he held them to it. It amazed me to see him call from the sidelines and see the results in action.  He has a way of instilling the value of teamwork and every child under his direction learns to play not for themselves but for their teammates.  If you understand the significance of that then you will understand why he has led many teams to championships and undefeated seasons. He brought out the best in our kids and if you watch them play today you will see the results.

I’ve not always agreed with his decisions, especially concerning my son, but I have respected them and him.  He has always put the team first even when we the parents wanted him to put our own kids first; even when we cried “unfair”, which parents are apt to do. I think we also learned hard and valuable lessons about teamwork.

His teams took on a sense of family and for 8 seasons that is what we were, a family.  We still are a family in one way or another. Those were probably some of the best years of my life. I know I am better for meeting Brandon Pelt but more importantly my son believes it too.

Good luck coach Pelt. Thank you for sacrificing your time to help make our children better football players as well as better young men.  Your mark will be left for generations to come.

Brandonism:  “What are you waving at Lucero? You want to go the sidelines and hug your momma?”

pelt from John Lucero on Vimeo.

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