Education is Opportunity To Show What Love Does! Serving as a coach and high school educator is one of the most rewarding opportunities that one can have. I have the opportunity to support young people in what is often a crucial time in shaping their future. People regularly separate sports and education at the high school level. However, I believe they go hand-in-hand as one provides key elements of discipline and focus that lead to success in the other. This is where I have felt the strong calling of God in my life. The opportunity to lead young men on the football field also gives me the responsibility to help them grow into men of high character that will push towards goals of success in each area of their life. This clearly includes athletics and academics, but expands further to the lessons of what it means to be a good husband, father, and citizen in this community. I regularly have chances to present my faith, but more importantly have the responsibility to model my faith each day with humble leadership, love, and support.
I can think of multiple examples of students and/or athletes that I have had the opportunity to work with that were dealing with struggles in their teens that I cannot imagine. Teens in our city are dealing regularly with the pressures of fitting in with sex, drugs, and alcohol that have been around for years. These pressures are constant and with the prevalence of social media are now magnified. However, while not to down-play that difficulty, there are other issues such as homelessness, hunger, and gang violence that are becoming more evident as well. I have had multiple players whose lives have been affected in traumatic ways by these struggles.
Many of our students and athletes are growing up in single parent homes. Those parents are doing everything they can to raise their children in the manner that they see fit. However, there is often a void that is left when lacking a father or mother. As a coach and a teacher, there is a responsibility to be an example that will hopefully help fill that void for those individuals.
These struggles are apparent at each school in the county and surrounding area. The question is, as Christians, what can we do to help? The impact of KOG2ILM program at Alderman Elementary has provided an incredible example of the opportunity that we have. There are organizations such as Communities in Schools that do an amazing job of reaching out to provide support for students that struggle with problems such as literacy, hunger, and poverty. These organizations are regularly seeking participation and aid.
For those that have students in our schools, encourage them to reach out to classmates and teammates that may come from a different background. Invite them over for dinner, to play video games, or to shoot hoops. This may put them or more likely you (parents) out of your comfort zone, but you must realize the impact you can have on a young person who lacks support at home. I have a close relationship with a former player that to this day, states that my wife and I having him and a few of his friends over for dinner when he was in high school led to him getting to where he is now. It was a simple meal to us, but you had never seen a group of boys so grateful. She grew to love them so much that she started baking cookies and sending them to the boys at school each week. Such a simple display of caring was what these boys needed. He has told me that they were on a path to jail and now each of them is working a steady job and raising a family.
Where there are struggles, there is opportunity. Teaching, educating, and parenting present us with incredible opportunities to display what Love Does. Take advantage, get involved, and show the love of Christ to our young people! Love Does!
Blog By: Craig Underwood
History Teacher & Football Coach-Hoggard High School