(Chris, when he played for Coach Coleman)
The following is a post by Chris Krause, the founder and CEO of NCSA Athletic Recruiting, who regularly contributes to our blog. Chris was a Class of 1984 football player at North Chicago who went onto play at Vanderbilt University (Class of 1988).
Last Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, I found myself alone at the airport, waiting for my delayed holiday flight to board. While of course, I wished I was with my family or friends instead of stuck at the airport, it ended up being a really unique time to myself. The airport was relatively calm, as I assumed most people traveled the day before or earlier in the morning, which actually made the added hour-and-a-half a nice time to not only get some work in, but to take some time to reflect on the things in life that mean the most to me, and how I can continue to keep those at the forefront, especially around the holidays.
For me, it’s pretty simple; what I value most in life are the relationships I’ve developed. Above all, the father-son and father-daughter relationship I have with my kids. Next, my parents, sister and brother-in-law, and nephews. I have friends I consider family, and am fortunate enough to have many unique bonds as a result of experiences in school, business, and sport. As I thought about the people I love the most, I had an intense feeling of warmth and gratitude in the United Airlines terminal. And like clockwork…my phone began ringing.
As I reached in and lifted my phone to see who was calling, “Coach Coleman” displayed on my phone. Coach Coleman – Mike Coleman – was my high school football coach at North Chicago, and when I reflect on important relationships in my life, he has had an incredible effect on my life and development as a man and Athleader, someone who always seeks to empower himself and others through the life lessons of sports. As a 1984 graduate of North Chicago, this is a bond 34-year years in the making. Mentorship, friendship, and love. He taught me what it meant to be a teammate and the importance of education. He sparked my passion for life and sport, and without my experience on his team, I don’t know that NCSA would be here today.
We say it’s not a four-year commitment, but a forty-year commitment. For me, it’s almost reached that point.
The stars aligned last Thursday when I was sitting alone in the airport, reflected with gratitude, and Coach Coleman, who I haven’t talked to in a few months, called to say hi and check in. We caught up, had a few laughs, and reminded one another how much we appreciate the other in our lives. No turkey spread or pumpkin pie could have been a better Thanksgiving treat.
Just as serendipitous was a letter recently posted by a former track and cross country runner reflecting on the way her sport and her coach profoundly impacted her not only at the time, but now well into adulthood. It’s a beautifully written ode to Athleadership, and once again brought Coach Coleman to the forefront of my mind. Sport is so powerful. Sports transcend. And it’s a special, special thing.