08/18/11 — Good sports: Area coaches have an impact on the children they inspire

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Good sports: Area coaches have an impact on the children they inspire

This is not a tribute to Les Williams, the coach of the Rosewood Little Eagles who left this world much too soon, although he certainly deserves that kind of notice -- and has received it.

It is a chance to say something to everyone out there who, like Les Williams, devotes part of his or her day to leading a sporting team.

Baseball, football or tiddlywinks, it does not matter, there is no question that the men and women who devote their time to youth athletics make a difference in the lives of the children they guide, encourage and inspire.

They are heroes, examples and a safe place for many young people -- some of whom need them more than others.

They teach lessons about sportsmanship, respect, honor and hard work. They inspire children who might not be sure yet exactly where they belong, to set a goal, reach for it and achieve it.

They change lives, every day.

All you have to do is read the story of Les Williams and the Rosewood Little Eagles to see that.

Not many of the young people in these recreation and scholastic programs will turn their love of sports into a career. Although some of them might have the talent, the reality is that professional sports is a tough business that few people actually can turn into a worthwhile and sustainable career.

But the lessons these young people learn -- and the discipline to which they aspire -- will show them another way to live their lives -- and give them a glimpse at what is possible when you work hard.

And if a baseball or football talent turns into a college scholarship and the chance to further their education, these children have been given a gift that will last a lifetime.

Being a coach is not easy. Everybody thinks he or she can do your job better and that you make decisions that are less than intelligent. And some of those people are not shy about sharing their interpretations.

But those who have done it for years know the secret of why putting on a whistle and spending two hours of every day at practice is so worth the effort.

All they do is look into the eyes of the young men and women they are coaching and see the changes, the dreams and the achievements.

That is the reward.

And we owe them our thanks -- for caring, for sharing, for being there for our children and for giving them a chance to dream.

That is a gift that lasts forever.

Published in Editorials on August 18, 2011 11:38 AM