Monday, April 11, 2011

Coach and Biscuit

“Hey, Biscuit!”

My son grins and heads to the door of his elementary school, pretending to ignore the greeting of the man in the funny hat opening the door for him. I’m not sure why he plays it cool because I happen to know he relishes it.

“I’m one of the few at school with a permanent nickname,” my son told me once. One thing I’ve learned about nicknames is you never forget the person who gave it to you; and my son, like so many other students and parents, for that matter, will never forget Coach.

Some folks may see him as simply an elementary school P.E. teacher, but those who know him, know better. Coach is an unsung hero. Each morning, my husband or I drag ourselves out of bed and sleepily drop off our son. No matter how grumpy or tired we feel, once we’ve seen Coach, we drive away smiling. And, trust me, it takes a rare gift to make me smile that early in the morning. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that he’s often in full costume — just because it’s a Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday — you get the idea.

Coach is usually joined by his partner-in-crime, a fantastic male chorus teacher who somehow manages to be one of the kids yet maintains discipline in the classroom — when he and Coach aren’t riding up and down the halls on big wheels, that is.

Each morning, as Coach opens the car door, he always has something positive to say to everyone inside. And, for the poochies who ride to school, he carries a pocket full of doggie treats.

Inside the school, Coach is a lot like the Fonz. He enters the cafeteria, and the kids all yell “Coach!” and frantically wave, while the lunchroom monitors roll their eyes in mock exasperation because they have just gotten the kids quiet. Coach will then make his rounds, giving high-fives, calling kids by the special names he has given each one, asking them how their school work is going, and making sure they stay out of trouble — something the kids strive to do because, believe me, no one wants to disappoint him.

On special occasions, he’ll play music in the lunchroom and has been known to pull kids up to dance, including — to their embarrassment — certain visiting moms. Coach coaxes even the shyest kids to participate in karaoke, leading by example (he does a great Johnny Cash). The amazing thing to me is that he’s not like this just now and then. His enthusiasm remains the same day in, day out, and I’ve known him for almost 10 years.

There are several Coach-related events that the kids look forward to each year, and a big one is track.

Each day, my son ran a little farther and a little harder in hopes of getting picked for the team. We found out last Friday that he did. At least, he thinks he did. He said Coach also takes a big group of kids who don’t make it, just to watch. Either way, my son is happy to be a part of it because as he said, “Coach is not about the winning; he’s about the trying.”

I think that says it all.

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