CORONAVIRUS VOICES: Columbia City football coach Brett Fox

We continue today with our CORONAVIRUS VOICES series, giving area coaches, players and others a platform to share their stories, thoughts and advice during the pandemic. 

Today, we welcome Coach Brett Fox of Columbia City.

How many times have we heard it be said that sports teach life lessons that last well past the time of being able to play? 

Do we believe it or is it cliché? 

Let’s put it to the test right now by breaking down our current situation according to football.

In football, we have a term called “sudden change” where we have to prepare our team for a shortened field or challenging circumstance because of a turnover or big return that has put our defenses’ back against the wall.

Isn’t that what we all are dealing with right now?

We are all being challenged with our backs against the wall.  Teachers are scrambling to master a new way of teaching, students are trying to learn new subjects through distinctively different measures and parents are trying to balance their own work with being a teacher/student right alongside their kids.  Medical workers are trying to save lives battling something that they have never seen before, with circumstances they have never experienced.  This situation is not what we had hoped for or wanted, but we have to rise up and take a stand because it’s what the team needs right now.

Business owners are shifting the way that they do business, some of them working from home while others are selling in different ways.  We are asking people to figure out how to work from home or to re-invent their businesses and trust in a short-term loss for a lifetime of gains. To me, it sounds a lot like trying to convince high school kids that “flipping the field position” can lead to a touchdown on the next drive.  Sometimes we have to pin the other team against their own goal line with a punt in order to create a short field for our offense so that we can score the next time out there.

Coaching isn’t about winning and losing.  We all want to say that, but isn’t it the truth right now?  Right now is about investing in our athletes, starting conversations that should happen all the time.  Checking in on their basic needs and making them feel valued. 

We spend four years trying to speak to our players about the importance of investing in their lifting, workouts, and practices only to spend equipment turnout and the banquet telling them that there is more to life than playing football. 

What is my purpose if there isn’t a game to be played?  My purpose does not change if I have the right perspective in my coaching.  My purpose is to create better leaders, workers, husbands and fathers through the game of football, allowing them to be “the salt of the earth,” providing the flavor and preserving the things that are worthy of treasuring within our world. 

I need to spend this time teaching my players how to be “the light of the world, a city on a hill that cannot be hidden.”  This is what rings true in today’s sense of coaching and it has come full circle that this is truly not about winning and losing, but instead about being what a coach truly is in sports.

Football is also the ultimate team sport, and in my opinion the best team sport.  In what sport can you never touch the ball (I mean NEVER) and still be a driving force in what your team does that day?  The game is won in the trenches.  The people that you never see getting interviewed are always the linemen.  They do their jobs with little limelight and recognition, but without them nothing can happen.  This rings true with all of our essential workers right now.  We know who they are, we don’t need a definition to identify them, but they aren’t the highlighted crew getting interviewed after every shift.  Instead these essential workers are keeping America rolling right now and they are the true heroes.  They are the linemen of America. 

This time period has created a lot of new perspectives.  We really get to see who the stars of our communities truly are.  We have individuals putting their lives on the line for others daily, without a thought of doing otherwise.  You have heard it said that “there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  It’s amazing to see this in action and what these medical professionals are doing daily should be applauded loudly.  

So, a coach’s perspective of our current situation is what I was asked to address in this column.  I am sitting back and I am watching it, hearing it, and seeing it.  Everyone can be a Monday morning quarterback and questioning decisions, but instead of taking this role, let’s do what the coaches in our lives tried to instill into us to do – to be a team player.  To stay at home.  To social distance.  To limit our coming and going.  Because we need each other, we are all teammates in this situation together, and it has to be more than one of us; it has to be all of us. 

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work…though one may be overpowered two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Brett Fox
Columbia City

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