Dec. 25, 2013
I like this quote, which I discovered a few months ago. It’s from a high school football coach somewhere in mid America.
“Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent. Most talents are, to some extent, a gift. Good character, by contrast is not given to us. We have to build it, piece by piece — by thought, by choice, courage, and determination.”
I woke up this Christmas morning with a smile on my face, Let me tell you why. 2013 brought an end to my coaching career here in America but it was the right time. I spent 48 years coaching, mostly in the state of Oregon, and the number of friends I’ve managed to make is amazing to me. Yesterday I sent out 1,213 invitations through facebook to friends inviting them to my retirement party. Wow!
A few of my ex players decided to take the bull by the horns and organized a farewell party for their high school or college football coach. By using the social media network they have managed to find hundreds of my ex players and also set up a January 25, 2014 date. The function is to be held at the Key Bank Club at Jeld-Wen field in downtown Portland. They are expecting up to 350 people.
Here are some details set up by John Pigott, class of ‘74 & John Leahy, class of ’80….for the event:
1. We now have a website set up that will allow everyone to contribute towards a retirement gift for the coach: http://www.forthecoachtomsmythe.com The link will allow you to choose a donation amount via a drop down box. We’re hoping that EVERYONE will choose to contribute some amount to our beloved coach.
2. We have created a Facebook event called: Coach Smythe Retirement / Benefit Party. I have invited everyone I am connected to on Facebook. We need everyone to connect to this event, “Like” the event, comment on the event and share/invite others as we want as much traffic as possible.
I’ve been blessed to coach so many young men who are so willing to ‘remember’ and to give back. It’s something I tried to preach to my teams year after year. Be thankful for the opportunity you had to share a great experience, like football, with good friends. Be thankful for those that taught you the value of self discipline and teamwork. Thank the coach who: 1) shared freely with you his experience to help you compete with dignity and class in a sometimes difficult environment. 2) mentored you to put others ahead of ‘self’ and to treat those less gifted with compassion and understanding. 3) to understand exactly what ‘good character’ is and to give that the highest value.
On Sunday January 19th I will have the good fortune to make the “Walk of Fame” at the beginning of the Scholar-Athlete banquet. It is an honor that allows me to join a few of my colleagues and friends who probably deserved it more than me. Former coaches honored are: Tom DeSylvia, Frank Buckiewicz, Dutch Kawasoe, Ted Ogdahl, Harry Scharff, Marv Hiebert, Ad Rutschman, Mouse Davis, John Allen, Bill Dressel, Chuck Solberg, Don McCarty, Larry Wilkins, John Linn, Tom Vaught, Gary Stautz, Don Matthews, and Craig Hastin. For me to be included into this impressive group of coaches, and friends, is indeed special.
Even though I’m officially ‘retired’ here in America I’m still active in Europe. Please check out the web site of my new team located in Saarbrucken, Germany (www.saarland-hurricanes.com) where I will begin my fourteenth year coaching on the other side of the pond called the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a March through September contract and of course Nancy will be along for most of the ride. Saarbrucken in located next to the French border just west of Frankfurt and south of Luxembourg. Paris is a short three hour train ride away which can be either good or bad news depending on how many Euros Nancy chooses to spend.
American football in Europe is unique. It’s not the passion of the continent as is what we call soccer and the rest of the world calls ‘football’, but rather a hobby sport by a few (in comparison) men struck by the lightning bolt of the pigskin variety. The core of people involved do have a passion for our game and more than that they have an understanding of the benefit one gains by participating either as a player, a spectator or management.
The last chapter here is closed and I leave Lake Oswego and Lakeridge High School knowing that along with help from my trusted and loyal assistant coaches I built a much envied program. The school opened in 1971 and won the state championship in 1987. In 2009 I returned at the request of some ex-players as the program had fallen on hard times. Once again with help from some excellent assistants we increased the turnout and saved the program from extinction while putting it back on solid ground and I’m very proud of that.
I’ll wave goodbye and farewell to the vast majority of people who have been supportive of our program. I’ve been fortunate in that respect. To those few with short memories be careful what you wish for.
Please follow along as I describe my year in Germany in my usual ‘Blog’ style of writing. Or follow along at the team website. I think you’ll enjoy the story as it unfolds. I know I will.