With the resignation of one of the more storied coaches in Maine basketball history, ostensibly for personal reasons (though we all know better), I wanted to make sure my twin 2-year-old daughters were clear on a few things going forward.
Dear Emma and Erin,
I love you more than you will ever know.
I’ve loved you since the day you were born, I love you when you spill yogurt and cereal all over the kitchen floor, and when you empty all of the pots, pans and utensils out of the cupboards.
And I will love you through every phase of your life — even as a teenager, when you tell me in your shrill, I-hate-the-world voice that you despise me.
But I will not make excuses for you. I will not coddle you. I will not accept anything less than your best effort, no matter the endeavor.
Girls, today was a sad day in Maine sports, one I hope you never have to witness when you are old enough to participate in organized athletics. Today, the mommies and daddies and little boys and little girls who like to pretend there isn’t such a thing as the real world … they won.
A very nice man named Gavin decided he didn’t want to be a coach anymore. Gavin has coached for a long time. He’s made a difference in a lot of young lives, and he’s won a lot of games.
But some people thought they knew better. Some people looked past his 500 wins and seven state championships, past his incredible ability to teach the game, and past the hundreds of athletes he has positively affected over the past few decades. They looked past that, because they felt their precious Jimmy Smith or Sally Doe was better equipped to know the game, to know what it takes to get better, to know what it takes to live in the real world.
Girls, today, by observing what happened, you can learn a very important lesson.
Sports are a mirror into the real world for many people, and they have for many years been part of successful preparation for the perils of life.
Perhaps it’s time for all of us mommies and daddies to reflect a little after Gavin’s resignation today.
What message are we sending you, our children?
My answer is, “Not one I want to be a part of.”
The Maine sports scene has lost an astonishing number of coaches and ADs in recent years. Many have taken the high road, saying they’re out for “family” reasons, to spend more time away from the game, perhaps to seek other opportunities.
Others, like Gavin and another friend, Gene Keene, have taken a middle road. They’ve been as honest as they could, making sure that, while officially taking a position of family and time commitment, people knew there was more to the story.
Daddy can’t force anyone to say what they don’t want to say on the record, but when some choose their words wisely, their messages are loud and clear.
Pound for pound, Maine has some of the best coaching talent in the country, whether or not our long-standing, self-deprecating feelings allow us to believe it.
If it is your destiny to play organized athletics, I can only hope you will have the chance to learn from mentors like Gavin. Or Gene. At any of the several others who have disappeared from our local sporting landscape in recent years.
Learn from them. Know that when they’re being tough on you, or looking for a commitment, that they’re not doing anything more than a boss will in the real world, nor will they ask anything from you that your mother and I will not expect at home.
They, like us, are looking out for you. They, like us, want you to succeed, to be a better player; to be a better person.
If your teammates, either on their own or at the behest of a parent, try to encourage a coup, remember that if you join them, it will only reveal a lesser quality of your own character.
I will do the best I can to instill within you a high moral standard, and try to guide you through every phase of your life.
I will not make excuses for you, though. I will neither blame nor credit others for your behavior, your work ethic, or your successes and failures.
But I will — and I do — love you.