• Dr. Hal Kitchings

A coach instructs

Updated: Jul 31, 2019

By Dr. Hal Kitchings - July 30th, 2019

A Coach… A coach instructs.

A Coach… A coach instructs. Most of us are familiar with this definition, “a person who trains an athlete or a team of athletes.” That’s usually what I think of—a coach is one that instructs a team. But there are many types of coaches that exist today. I even have a few in my life that try to keep me “coached up,” because I need it! We all do, if we’re honest.

Growing up I had lots of coaches. Most of them were summer league baseball coaches. I loved them all. And I had several baseball coaches in college that impacted me. But the coaches that I want to highlight for the purpose of this article are the four I had in Junior High and High School.

My two Junior High coaches were Ricky Joe Black and Joe Wood. Coach Black was my seventh-grade football coach. I was one of his quarterbacks. (I started one game but had a panic attack and never started again.) Coach Black taught me a lot. What I recall most was in practice. I went against the first team and he was constantly helping me get up. I was a small guy and had mostly small guys trying to block for me. It wasn’t pretty!

But Coach Black taught me to get up when I am down. It’s helped me throughout life! I knew he loved me. Coach Wood was my eighth and ninth grade football and basketball coach. Whenever I did something right, he’d let me know and he did so excitedly. I learned from him to encourage people when you see them do something right. Wow, what a blessing it has been—especially with my children!

I knew Coach Wood loved me.

My two High School coaches were Ted Milton and Bruce Adams. (I only played baseball because a cardiologist thought playing football and basketball might be too risky. Yes, I had a heart catheterization done to be sure I really did have an aortic valve problem. Regardless of what some of my Clinton baseball buds thought, it was true. Coach Black and Coach Wood came to see me in the hospital. That’s what I remember most about that week of tests! I was down and they lifted my spirit.) I played for Coach Milton one year as a Sophomore in Kosciusko, MS. He scared me to death! But he sure loved me and liked to tease me.

One game he put me in to bat at a critical point in the game. The winning run scored from third on a ball that got past the catcher after I swung and missed. Coach Milton and the team acted like I had won the game! I’ve often thought he probably did that to let me know he believed in me more than anything. I try to see potential in people and give them opportunities to build their confidence. I appreciate that one year with Ted Milton. And he loved me. Lastly, Coach Bruce Adams. He was my High School baseball coach at Clinton High my last two years of High School after we moved to Clinton. He was cool and collective. But what I recall was that day I walked off the field after an inning from outfield because I was upset that I had made an error. He let me know that was not tolerated on his teams. I learned that having a positive attitude is always right—during the good times and the down times. It’s helped as a pastor. He loved me, too.

I feel sorry for guys that have poor coaching during their formative years. Some of them still live with wounds from those guys. I’m forever thankful for mine and think of them regularly. And I’m just one player they coached. The calling and impact of a coach is immeasurable! If you know one, let him/her know how much you appreciate them. They don’t do it for money. But many of them—the good ones that are called—are very wealthy! And he went on to say to them all,

"Watch out and guard yourselves form every kind of greed; because your true life is not made up of the things you own, no matter how rich you may be.” (Luke 12:15)

Following is a well known quote from a well known man of God, Billy Graham. “A coach will impact more people in one year than the average person will in an entire lifetime.” It’s so true!

Who are you being coached by? Who are you coaching? Coaching deals with a lot more than just ball. The men I mentioned above taught me more about life than ball, though that was a part of their influence. Something to think about…

Until Next Time...

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