Monday, February 02, 2009

A Tale Of Two Coaches

This post is about the totally different approach of two coaches. Both of the men coach and teach at private christian high schools and both coach in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. But the similarities end there, because the two men have vastly different coaching philosophies.

You have probably heard about the first coach, Micah Grimes, since his last victory made national headlines as his Covenant High School girl's basketball team defeated tiny Dallas Academy by a score of 100-0. His team was ahead by 59-0 at halftime and they were assured of winning the game. After all, Dallas Academy only has 8 girls on their team, and they are winless in the last four years. But Coach Grimes didn't let up.

He continued to have his team do a full-court press on defense, and continue to shoot three-point shots on offense. It seemed like winning was not enough. This coach wanted to totally humiliate the opposing team. But what he did was humiliate his own school and its supporters.

The director of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) praised the girls on the losing team saying, "They showed much more character than the coach that allowed that score to get out of hand. It's up to the coach to control the outcome." Kyle Queal, head of Covenant High School, agreed saying the game "does not reflect a Christ-like and honorable approach to competition. We humbly apologize for our actions and seek the forgiveness of Dallas Academy, TAPPS and our community." Covenant asked TAPPS to allow them to forfeit the game.

But Coach Grimes refused to apologize. He said, “I respectfully disagree with the apology, especially the notion that the Covenant School girls basketball team should feel ‘embarrassed’ or ‘ashamed’. We played the game as it was meant to be played. My girls played with honour and integrity.” He is partially right. It is not the team who should be embarrassed. It is the team's coach. After he made this statement, the school terminated his contract.

The other coach I want to discuss is Kris Hogan, who coaches at Faith Christian High School in Grapevine. Going into the tenth game of his season, his team was 7-2. The next game was against Gainesville State School, who was 0-8 and had only scored two touchdowns all year. Faith Christian was a heavy favorite to win the game, but Coach Hogan saw more than an opportunity to win -- he saw an opportunity to teach.

You see, Gainesville State School is a juvenile prison that houses 260 teenagers who have broken the law. They only play the juniors and seniors that are excelling, both in the classroom and in their behavior. The team has a lot of turnover of players, as some of those who do well are discharged and some trouble-makers are kicked off the team. Their coach says, "Some weeks I might take 25 or 28, sometimes 12 or 13. We went through six quarterbacks this year." The team usually has less than 40 fans show up for a game -- mostly school employees.

Coach Hogan sent an e-mail to all the parents and fans of Faith Christian. He asked that half of them become Gainesville fans for that one night, and the Faith Christian fans responded. Over 200 of them sat on the Gainesville side of the field and rooted for Gainesville. They even formed two rows of 100 people on the field with a huge banner for the Gainesville team to run through, and they provided cheerleaders.

The game was still pretty one-sided, and Faith Christian led by 33-0 at halftime. For the second half, Coach Hogan played his third-stringers, and put many of them in positions they had never played. For example, his third-string nose guard played safety, and a cornerback got his shot at playing defensive end. Gainesville was able to score two touchdowns (while the entire crowd cheered) and the final score was 33-14.

Faith Christian didn't just win the game -- they won it with honor. After the game, the two teams prayed together. The Gainesville quarterback asked to lead the prayer, and said, "Lord, I don't know how this happened, so I don't know how to say thank You, but I never would've known there was so many people in the world that cared about us." The Gainesville coach told Coach Hogan,
"You'll never know what your people did for these kids tonight. You'll never, ever know."

Now Coach Hogan and the Faith Christian fans didn't do this for reward or glory -- honorable people usually don't. But the school and its fans were rewarded with national headlines and a write-up in ESPN Magazine.

The coach also got his reward. Troy Aikman brought the story to the attention of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and Goodell rewarded the coach with Super Bowl tickets. The Commissioner said,
"Coach Hogan inspired an entire community in an extraordinary way and gave those young men on the Gainesville team a chance to believe in themselves. It’s a powerful message and shows how football can be such a positive force in shaping values and building communities.”

There you have it -- the tale of two coaches. I only have one question. Which coach would you want teaching your child?

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