How many times do we hear athletes refer to their coaches as parent figures, role models and someone who positively impacted their entire lives? We hear that all the time because it’s true. We don’t expect to also say, ‘My Coach literally saved my life’ but that’s exactly what happened on Valentine’s Day, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL when three school staff members/coaches sacrificed their own lives to protect innocent students under a barrage of senseless gunfire.
My Mom was a teacher and a coach, my Father and Stepfather were instructors/school administrators/college department heads, my Husband was a teacher and a coach, my Aunt was a lifelong teacher, and I have three Sisters that are currently school teachers. (One of those sisters teaches at nearby Park Trails Elementary, just steps from the high school and experienced the fear as a parent of a student there – my nephew – and also the subsequent sorrow for one of her students that suffered the loss of a family member; one of the 14 student victims at the high school in Parkland).
Being a teacher is a difficult job and they’re faced with challenges every day and they certainly don’t get paid what they’re worth considering they’re molding and shaping our future generations on limited budgets and increasingly more standards and restrictions on teaching styles. They often spend their own money for classroom supplies, they work late at night grading papers, they mentor and counsel kids when they’re going through personal issues, and they often go to bed at night worrying about a troubled child. Even with all of that, they’re routinely scrutinized for statewide test scores or for speaking out about concerns about a student and they sometimes receive unwarranted backlash from parents.
Most coaches in the public school systems are also teachers so not only do they experience all of the above, they’re also charged with the goal of motivating young people and teaching them a skill/talent with various sports and leading them to not only be upstanding young men and women, but excellent athletes and to play as a TEAM… and WIN! Being a TEAM player takes selflessness, discipline, hard work ethic and to commit to sacrificing for each other – to have each other’s back. That’s what it means to play a TEAM sport. For years, I’ve said that Sports mirrors Life. To play sports it takes goals, focus, dedication, a positive attitude, a will to get back in the game and succeed even when you fail, and to work together to accomplish a championship and even when you don’t, to be gracious and show good sportsmanship in defeat.
As a parent, I’ve always been involved in every school my child attended and even after he graduated, I try to stay active in some way to support our teachers, administrators, and athletic departments because I know the value they provide to families, students, and our community. Their job is often a thankless one.
My heart is so full of gratitude for these three men (heroes) that gave up everything to save the lives of so many students, but also for the example they showed as a TRUE TEAM PLAYER, while I’m so heartbroken for their families and so many that loved them that are now experiencing a void with their absence.
I challenge all of you to be a little more grateful, gracious and supportive of your kid’s teachers, coaches, and administrators. Get involved in your schools, volunteer your time, your resources or lend moral support because these are our community leaders that are watching over your children each and every day.
THIS POST IS DEDICATED TO THESE THREE MEN OF THE 17 TOTAL VICTIMS THAT LOST THEIR LIVES IN PARKLAND.
Scott Beigel, 35, Geography Teacher and Cross Country Coach who was shot and killed after unlocking his classroom door to get several students to safety.
Aaron Feis, 37, Assistant Football Coach and Security Guard who used his body as a human shield to protect students from bullets as the gunman opened fire.
Chris Hixon, 49, Athletic Director, Wrestling Coach and Security Specialist. Hixon had an extensive background in the military and served in the U.S. Navy. He went directly into the line of fire without being armed, in order to save student’s lives.
These were coaches, teachers, father figures and yes, fathers themselves… and will always be remembered as heroes. Because of them, many students went home to their parents that night that wouldn’t have otherwise.