What I Learned as ‘Teacher Coach’ for a Night


Carolyn Brown, Adviser, Online Tritonian

I didn’t want to do it, but my husband thought I should.  

“It’s an honor,” he told me.

So I did it. . . spent my Friday afternoon and evening with the Triton football team. 

And, WOW, how glad I am I DID!  

As the so-called honorary “teacher-coach,” I did a whole lot of learning in one evening. 

First, there was the prayer service in the chapel right after school. Theology teacher Shane Lagerman was inspiring, the football players quiet and attentive.  Mr. Lagerman challenged the team to be leaders, to be good men, to remember there was an “end” bigger and more significant than a football game. 

Next I took a walk through the alumni tailgate in the Commons and reminisced with former students and parents. Great job by the development folks!

Then it was time for the “chalk talk” in the Weight Room. As I listened to the coaches draw up plays on the whiteboard, quiz the super-attentive players crowded together amidst the equipment, and explain a plethora of formations by the Preble team, I realized how smart those jocks had to be. . . here I was, a football player’s mom who understood the game better than any other woman I knew, and I realized I had no understanding about what they were reviewing!  It might as well have been calculus or Russian for all I comprehended!

Then Head Coach Mike Rader asked ME to give a word to the team.  What to say? I more or less repeated what Mr. Lagerman said, how they were leaders others looked up to, and told them about my own experience of waiting outside the fence for my son to come off the field after a game.  A little boy waiting at the fence with me told his mom he couldn’t wait to meet #15 (my son), and as I hugged my favorite player, I whispered, “There’s a little kid waiting to meet you. Pay special attention to him.”

Then Father Melezava challenged the players along the same line as Mr. Lagerman. He urged them to do the right thing, and I remember thinking how that was one of those “Godwinks” or coincidences, for the priest had not heard the earlier prayer service talk. And the prayer we all read together had the same message. Was this the theme of the night? Was this what I was to learn from this “teacher-coach” experience?

Indeed it was. 

From stepping foot on the field until the end of the game I was amazed by the players and coaches. . . amazed by their conduct, amazed by the way they encouraged and praised each other, amazed by their kindness towards me, amazed by their excitement and joy when all went well, and amazed by the respect they showed their coaches. Soon I felt part of the team–fist bumping, hollering for “O” and talking to injured players on the sidelines. 

The coaches were kind to me and kind to the players. I had expected in-your-face shouting and strong language (I never heard the f-word). Parents and school administrators should know the coaches were inspirational and caring. We’re lucky to have them at NDA. 

In fact, the side lines became a family of players, coaches, trainers, injured athletes, photographers–and myself. Yes, they even insisted I walk across the field and shake hands with the Preble coaches!

Next was “Break Down,” and I’ll never forget all those sweaty, grinning faces shouting at me in the mid-field huddle, especially Jason VandenHouten and Henry Weber, as they helped me with the cheer.  What a night!

But it wasn’t over.  As I left the field and exited the track, I had my ultimate moment of the night–those same players paying attention to little kids who wanted their autographs and attention. Deja vu. . . my Triton “sons” being leaders, heroes, and gentlemen to youngsters. 

Go Tritons!!