A couple weeks ago, on a beautiful Thursday evening, many of the high school track coaches and a couple of booster club members showed up at our house to wish our graduating son good luck after high school. The caravan of coaches stopped by the home of every graduate who would have competed in track this season.

I knew one of the booster parents would be stopping by, but having so many coaches come over was a complete and very pleasant surprise. They stayed about 10 minutes, asked my son about his plans after high school, shared some memories from track, and gave him a sweatshirt and an enormous cookie.

While this may not seem like a big deal, it actually is because it showed each graduating senior on the team that they are important and valued by their coaches — even when there’s no season. It also shows that even a small group of people spending 10 minutes with someone can make them feel appreciated.

I had a lot of respect and admiration for the coaches and parent volunteers before, and having them stop by our house certainly validated that opinion. It’s another example that these coaches truly care about and take a genuine interest in our kids, both in and out of the sports season.

In some ways, coaches can have as much influence on students as their teachers and even their parents. That’s why it’s critically important to have coaches who not only help students reach their athletic potential, but also make a human connection and motivate them to be better people. That’s what the track coaches provide. It’s clear that they share a passion for sports and for working with student athletes.

Like a lot of people, I really missed the spring sports season from both a competition and a social perspective. I love the excitement of the running and field events, and also enjoy being able to see and talk to so many people during meets. The track team has been steadily improving over the last few seasons and would have seen continued success this season.

I have a lot of good memories from previous track seasons, including positive interactions with the coaches. Having them come to our house for a surprise visit will be my last impression of them as a parent of a high school athlete. More importantly, it’s the last impression the graduates will have of their coaches.

People talk a lot about the importance of making a good first impression. As the track coaches demonstrated, the last impression is equally if not more important.

Brett Martin is a community columnist who’s been a Shakopee resident for over 15 years.


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