Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Machine

In the late 90's I was teaching elementary students by day and coaching the varsity wrestling team in the evenings.  It was a crazy,busy and fun time of my life.  Coaching wrestling was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and I have often said that one of my favorite titles I've ever had was "Coach".  Wrestling was a unique sport to coach in that my team members came from such diverse backgrounds.  I had the typical sports crew (mostly recruited from the football team), I had some members who had never been involved in sports at all. I had well to do members and some that came from pretty rough backgrounds.  It's amazing what kids will tell their coach.  Every member had a story to tell and I was amazed at how much we came together as a team given how different and diverse the students were.  I guess that was one of our successes...creating a true team atmosphere.

One of my hard luck wrestlers was Dave.  He had come through some pretty tough circumstances and to be honest, was a kid who could have easily gone down the wrong path. One of my early interactions with Dave was him asking me to listen to a song.  He played Kid Rock's "Only God Knows Why" for me and said, "That's my song Coach".  The song is about someone who has been through a lot of things that no one else understands.  In the four years I coached him, Dave became an incredible wrestler and he also grew into a respectful and responsible young man.  His record number of wins during the seasons earned him the nickname "The Machine" which he carried all through high school.  Dave was a kid who beat the odds and through hard work and dedication embodied everything I tried to teach those young men during my coaching years.  He demonstrated passion, energy, teamwork, growth, and respect.  The same things I try to teach and model today as a principal.

As close as we were, I lost track of Dave after his graduation.  Much to my surprise a few weeks ago, I got a letter in the mail inviting me to Dave's wedding!  Dave is now a grown man and living in Florida.  Luckily, the wedding took place in Michigan, allowing me the opportunity to see him and several of my former wrestlers.  What a wonderful event it was to see my old crew and to be called Coach again after all those years.  It was like that 15 years was a blink of an eye.  Yes, we were all a little heavier and I am definitely a lot grayer, but I felt very young at heart that night.  It was a chance to see the men those boys grew into and to tell them how much they meant to me.  I was happy to hear that the feeling was mutual.  As educators, we don't always get a chance to see the fruits of our labors, but every once in a while, we get to see the finished product.  This month I had the chance to revisit some old memories and friends and travel back to a time when I was still called coach and Dave was still called The Machine.

The boys are back in town!

Celebrating the wedding day of "The Machine"


"You get what you put in, and people get what they deserve." - Kid Rock

"Once you've wrestled, everything else in life is easy." - Dan Gable

"Coaching is the universal language of change and learning." - CNN


Monday, September 14: Jon to Rotary 12:00-1:00 pm
Tuesday, September 15: Fire Drill 2:00 pm
                                       Open House 6:00 pm / Curriculum Night 7:00 pm
Wednesday, September 16: Achievement Team Meeting 8:15 am in Shannon's Room
                                             New Student Lunch with Jon and Denise (during regular lunch times)
                                             Noon Monitor Training 1:00 pm
Thursday, September 17: Staff Meeting 8:00 am
                                         Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 pm
Friday, September 18: Crisis Team Meeting 9:15 am

Monday, September 21: Tornado Drill 9:30 am
                                      Jon to Rotary 12:00-1:00 pm
Tuesday, September 22: Principal Meeting at Wayne-RESA 7:30-9:30 am
Thursday, September 24: Staff Meeting 8:00 am
Friday, September 25: Jon in Lansing for MEMSPA board meeting (all day)


  1. As a former coach, I completely get this and the emotions that are evoked when you get to spend time with former players. It sounds like you were a wonderful influence on The Machine and many other athletes!

  2. Coaching helped me become a better teacher and also a better principal:)