This is the time of year I get to spend a lot of time around coaches. August means the start of the school year, but it’s also the time for athletic programs to kick off their seasons. I’ve already immersed myself in football, soccer, volleyball and fall baseball. The other seasons will get here faster than a skinny tailback with 300-pound linemen chasing him.
One word I hear quite a bit is “rebuilding.”
In coach-speak, it means they lost players to graduation the year before, and now they’re facing putting together an entire team of different people. It’s a daunting task for any staff, which is why they seem to dread mentioning the word at all.
I’ve even heard a replacement word: “Reloading.” Coaches like that one a little more. It smacks of staying on target despite the looming changes. To them, it sounds a lot better than saying, “We lost everybody, and now we don’t know what’s about to happen.”
Rebuilding is a frequent occurrence with anyone involved in education. Working at a two-year college means I’m saying goodbye to some young players at least every 24 months. They’re moving on, as they’re supposed to do, while the rest of us stand back and watch their dust. Happy for them. Sad for us. Coaches usually spend a couple of days pondering those exits before planning ahead for next year.
Facing a rebuilding seems a little intimidating, I guess. That goes for any part of life. Heck, I’m trying to rebuild my endurance after spending the summer imitating a lazy piece of crap. I was in high-speed mode when May ended. I’m sure not in high-speed mode now — at least, not yet.
Rebuilding. Not to sound all existential here, but we’re all rebuilding something all the time, right? Parents whose kids have graduated high school had to watch those youngsters leave home after 18 years of high-speed mode. My wife and I have been those parents. We went from having a loud and rowdy home to peace and quiet. Sounds heavenly, right?
It wasn’t at first. We both sort of roamed around looking at each other like, “What do we do now?” We weren’t prepared for that much change in our lives. We had to rebuild our days and figure out how to fill those gaps the kids had hogged for all those years. We bought new pieces of furniture just so the house wouldn’t feel so empty. We adopted a little dog just to have something around that needed us.
That’s the root of the issue in any “rebuilding.” Change. The older we get, the less we like it. We’ll spend years developing a daily routine, and any sudden changes throw us completely off track.
I take my coffee on the back porch with my wife in the mornings, and we try to end every day out there the same way (with a different beverage). The rest of the day can go absolutely haywire and I’ll handle it, but let anything throw off that little tiny routine of mine, and I get cranky and all out of whack.
But after all these years of covering sports and teaching classes, I’ve come to embrace those other inevitable changes. In fact, I love it. If change would stand still long enough, I’d slap a big hug on it.
Why? It keeps me moving. It gives me something to which I can look forward at least every single semester. August and January are the beginnings of each new term, and I get to meet new students. I get to cover new sports and watch new players. Our lives may stay busy, but we can’t say our lives are boring. Not with all this change coming at us all year long.
At the end of some years, we say goodbye to long-time co-workers. They’ve earned their retirements or the opportunities to move elsewhere, and while we know we’ll miss them, we also know we’re about to gain new teammates. Yet another reason to get pumped the heck up.
Best of all, change keeps us from growing stagnant. One will only find algae and refuse floating at the top of still waters. Those things don’t clutter a moving river. Leonardo Da Vinci supposedly said, “In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time.”
Nice one, Leo. You’d have made a great teacher or coach.
So to everyone entering a new year, whether it’s in a classroom or on a field or court somewhere, good luck with all the change coming your way. Embrace ‘it. Give ‘it a big ol’ bear hug. It’s not as scary up close as it seems from a distance. As John F. Kennedy said, “Change is the law of life. And those who only look to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
Bring it on, change.
We’re ready to do some rebuilding up in here.