BETWEEN THE LINES: Life lessons from the coach

Once a coach, always a coach, I contend. After retiring from teaching and coaching last year, I managed to stay close to athletics by being a referee. However, it is just not the same. So when the occasion arose to help Faith Academy girls basketball coach Jerry English with his sports camp last week, I jumped at the opportunity.

Most of the girls attending the camp at Faith were 12-16 years old. They were attentive and worked hard which, to be perfectly honest, was refreshing. The improvements the girls made during the four-day camp was impressive.

The coaching staff wanted attendees to leave with the understanding they are capable of playing so much better. Too often players never reach their potential as athletes because they fail to envision what they can do with hard work.

The hall of fame coach, who had career stops at Pflugerville, Sweeny and Dripping Springs prior to starting the girls’ basketball program at the private Christian school in Marble Falls, started each session with a life lesson. Many of these motivational stories were sent to him by his former players. English began one session by asking the players if their jars were full. The question was met with blank stares, so he told this story:

On the first day of class, a psychology professor showed his students a jar 2 inches in diameter filled with rocks and asked if it was full. They said yes. The teacher then produced a container of pebbles and added them to the rocks until he could add no more. He asked again if the jar was full and the students agreed it was.

Finally, the instructor started pouring a bucket of sand into the jar of rocks and pebbles until he could add no more. He told them the rocks represented the important things in life such as relationships with God, family and friends.

The pebbles, he added, symbolized less important things like work or school, whereas the sand stood for the relatively unimportant things that fill up our lives. The good the professor then asked, "What would happen if one fills the jar with sand first?"

The answer? There would be no room for the rocks — the important things in life.

The analogy helps remind us to concentrate on things that matter most. Too often in life we get sidetracked and lose focus. English and I share a common concern for today’s youth as they are forced to grow up in an R-rated, unsafe world that has robbed them of joy and replaced it with sadness. There are far too few examples of adults doing the right thing.

Children learn by observation; they mimic what they see. Talking the game rather than playing it does not leave them with a favorable impression. The future of America lies in their hands, as the past two generations have fumbled the ball by allowing our nation’s courts to remove God from the public square. There is a limit to how far a vehicle that is out of gas can coast before coming to a standstill, as we will soon discover.

It is imperative we focus our attention on teaching our next generation of leaders the truths that are essential for success. It begins by looking to God for the answers to what ails our society rather than waiting for politicians to fix things.

Laughlin is a Christian Libertarian. He is an economist, teacher, father, husband and most recently a grandfather. He has written a weekly column for The Tribune for 13 years. He and his wife Gina reside in Meadowlakes. To contact him, email He is an independent columnist, not a staff member, and his views do not necessarily reflect those of The Tribune or its parent company.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *