As a football coach, one of the most entertaining elements of coaching is getting to spend time with other coaches. It is a brotherhood which is like no other and to which I enjoy being a part. We share stories, swap trade craft, and being competitors enjoy the back and forth exchanges which usually involve heated exchanges on the Xs and Os as well as the Jimmys and Joes.
Traveling the country with my son to watch the recruiting process has added a different element as each program has their own unique approach. Recently, we stopped at Kansas Weslyan and Coach Bean gave us a tour and during our time he mentioned how their program liked to recruit men whose success off the field was of importance. He stressed having players who worked hard and went beyond what was asked of them and how these athletes could be used by the team to motivate and encourage their teammates.
It made me think about a very basic drill we use from junior high all the way through varsity and is common in many programs. We call it the "mirror" drill where one player lines up across from the other and mirrors the footwork of the opposing player. The object of the drill is to emulate the opposing player and go step for step where he goes. This is technically an impossible task as nobody can react as fast as the person who makes the initial move. However, the drill teaches a player to focus, pay attention to the details and improve their own footwork. Coach Beal was simply conveying that KWU used the mirror drill beyond the field of play. They asked players to emulate the characteristics of success which can be found in others. Furthermore, they liked to see characteristics of success, which others could mirror, in those whom they recruit. They were looking for men who brought a successful mindset with them and whose ambitions and actions already exhibited achievement.
In John 13:15, we are called by Jesus to mirror him. He tells us "I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you." Jesus is similar to the player we are trying to emulate and is the impossible goal having walked the earth without sin. Yet, we are to do our best daily to match him step for step. We will continually fall short but the more time we spend mirroring Christ the more we will be prepared to play the game of life.
As a coach, I am reminded how much I have to learn from the young men who are in our program. How many of their actions off the field should, and do, speak louder than what takes place between the lines. This summer I have players on mission trips abroad, those who are mentoring young children in summer camps, others who are helping to support their families with summer jobs and the list goes on. It is my job to honor their achievements by encouraging others to mirror their commitments to selfless work. So, thanks to Coach Beal for his thoughtful words and may we all work to better mirror those who are mirroring Christ.