Do More to Get More

eotp_kirtgraves_august2013I hate exercise. I spend $20 a month to occasionally visit a gym, just so I can seem like the type of person who is making the effort to look and feel better. But the thing is, I’m not. I have never been that type of person. My parents insisted that I try every sport invented by man as I was growing up. Every year, I’d learn a new set of rules, bond with a new set of team mates, and ultimately declare that each year’s athletic endeavor just wasn’t for me. I ended up playing baseball for seven years, but only because it was last on the list and something had to stick.

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for organized sports and unnecessary physical activity, though, I have never considered myself a lazy person. On the contrary, I spent many of my formative years volunteering for clubs and activities, forcing my parents to alternate drop-off and pick-up duties two or three times a night. By sixteen, I’d overextended myself so much, that my cash-strapped parents finally gave up and bought me a car so I didn’t have to ask for rides anymore.

So I learned early that sometimes giving of yourself has its own rewards. A few years after high school, I ended up working as a youth minister for the church in which I grew up. As stressful as being a forensics coach can be, nothing I’ve ever done required more sacrifice or tried my patience more than that job. But along the way I learned a lot about humility, I built tremendous relationships with wonderful people, and I count many moments of my ministry as the greatest in my life. The more I gave, the more I received.

I started coaching much in the same way I started ministering. I was asked to take the team over, because no one else was available. I intended to stay for a year, or maybe two, before passing the responsibility off to someone who was better suited or had the right background. I knew that I’d always stay involved, as long as I was in town, but I didn’t want it to be my job.

And much in the same way I continued in my ministry, I stuck around. In coaching, my willingness compulsion to say yes has made me very busy. In my first year as head coach, it was expected that I would host a tournament and take kids to both national tournaments every year, because it had always been done that way. Shortly thereafter, I started a podcast and blog about forensics. And before I knew it, I was saying yes when fellow coaches encouraged me to run for President of the WFCA. Now in the second year on the executive board, would I do it again? Absolutely.

As an executive board member, I am positioned to absorb information from some of the most successful and long-serving coaches in our organization. Tips and tricks are shared freely, and many of them are implemented on my team with great success. I have the opportunity to hear from members who otherwise might not take the time to approach me or start a conversation. I have been given the opportunity to sit and talk with leaders of other organizations, like the WHSFA and NFL, whose perspective and advice have been invaluable.

There are, of course, many days when I feel run down. There are nights spent lying awake in bed, when I wonder if I’ve overextended myself again, but this time no one is showing up with a car to ease their own burden. I often doubt that I am capable of meeting the expectations which I perceive to have been placed upon me. And in those moments, when I am my own antagonist, I have learned to take another step forward and do a little more. Without fail, giving a little more ultimately gives me the strength and the resources to take another step.

When I talk to non-forensics friends about the WFCA, I often use the word “unique” to describe our organization. We are a collection of singular personalities, and I doubt there are many groups like ours in the world. However, there is one way in which the WFCA is just like everything else I’ve ever done. When I give more, I get more.

So my advice to all the coaches who feel that now just isn’t the time to get more involved in the WFCA, especially the new coaches who don’t feel experienced enough, is this: Say yes anyway. It’s possible that you’ll regret it, but it’s much more likely that you’ll benefit from being more involved. There will be a price, and that price is normally additional sleepless hours, but the rewards are worth it. And you won’t be the only one who sees the benefits. Your students will, too. So take a leap and join a committee or host a tournament or mentor a new coach or join a national organization or run for a position on the executive board. Whatever step you take, no matter how big or small, will be a step in the right direction.

If, by the time you read this, I’ve been forcibly removed from the executive board and placed in supervised, psychiatric care, I trust that you’ll ignore my advice. Otherwise, I look forward to serving with you.

Kirt Graves
Sheboygan North


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