Over the years people have asked me why I coach. A good deal of my answers revolve around the fun I have watching young people excel at something that they are passionate about.
It could be the first time they pick up a ground ball, score their first goal, make a nice check or a great save. Sometimes it is the thrill of being in a close game and trying to make all the correct decisions to give your team the chance to succeed.
It could be achieving a team goal or a championship. I have coached at every level (except pro) and I have seen wonderful things on and off the field.
This past weekend in the town of Farmville, Virginia, Legendary Hampden Sydney Head Coach Ray Rostan bid farewell to his last senior class. The importance of this day did not go unnoticed by people that are involved in our great game.
This marks the 37th year that coach Rostan has patrolled the sidelines, 31 years for the Hampden Sydney Tigers. Coach Ray has amassed over 300 wins in his career and he decided this year he would retire. By way of the Facebook posts I have seen the last few days there looked like hundreds of former players attended Coach Ray’s last home game before competing in the ODAC, NCAA qualifying tournament. They defeated a very good and nationally ranked Lynchburg team (last years NCAA runner-ups) 13-9.
I first met Coach Ray at the US Lacrosse Convention some ten years ago. As one of the convention committee chairs I was responsible for getting coaches to speak at the national event. I had spoken with coach several times over the phone and we hit it off right away. Could it be that he was from Copiague, Long Island and I was from West Babylon (bitter rivals) or that he coached several of my players (Bobby Fulton, David Beman, Brad Mostowy) and guys I coached with (John Pritzlaff & Ryan Harrington).
I asked Coach what he wanted to talk about and he said how about shooting. Now mind you we had several professional players that were going to talk about shooting so I was a little hesitant to have another shooting presentation. But I said sure that’s fine coach. Coach Ray brought his long time assistant Jay (who happens to be his son) and they put on a shooting display that people still talk about today. Coach Ray was happy to rip corners and put balls where ever he wanted. Not only was he a great speaker but he was able to demonstrate the art of shooting a lacrosse ball in layman’s terms and everyone that was in attendance were very impressed.
Coach Ray is just a genuine all and all good guy. He always takes your call he answers emails (sometimes not timely) and is always there if you need him for any reason. Not only did he impact many players during his career but he impacted many Moms and Dads and siblings.
So to answer my question Why do I coach? It’s because of guys like Ray Rostan who don’t do it for fanfare, prestige, money or fame. They do it because they want to make a positive impact on young people’s lives. Coach Ray is a DIAMOND in the rough and we will all miss him a great deal.
From one Coach to another…THANK YOU COACH RAY you have blessed all of us.