Thursday, June 20, 2019

One Plus One Equals Three: Thoughts on Coaching

In his book "Born to Run" Bruce Springsteen shares a truth he has come to know, profess and believe; one plus one does not equal two. The Boss writes: "one plus one equals three." How's that? What gives? The math does not add up. However the Feast of the Holy Trinity—the first Sunday in Ordinary Time—and my philosophy on coaching has helped me understand that it does. Here's how.

We Christians honor a triune God. We call upon the Father, Son and Holy Spirit when we begin our prayer with the sign of the cross. Though a mystery, the Holy Trinity—a communion of persons—boils down to one thing: relationship. God is three persons in one. God is Father, God is revealed in the Son and God is living in the Holy Spirit. I relate to each person of the Trinity in new and profound ways every day. And, I believe this is what God desires—a relationship with each and everyone of us. This is the God of the Old Testament and the New. A personal and loving God. One who has called us by name.

From time to time I have heard a call to "evolve" or "move on" from the words, the titles of Father, Son and Spirit. Some suggest that we pray Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier. I understand why. When I consider the Trinitarian God with these titles, they make sense. I do recognize that God created the cosmos. I am grateful that Jesus redeemed the world through His sacrifice on the cross. And I pray always that the Spirit will sanctify and make all things new. However, as I was reminded at Sunday Mass on this feast day, to speak of God in this way reduces God to a function. These words intonate what God can do and not who God is. Scripture tells us repeatedly that God is love. Ignatius of Loyola taught that love is shown in deeds. loving and doing are the foundation for real relationships.
This week, I will head back to my alma mater, the University of Notre Dame for the Play Like a Champion Today conference. This gathering of coaches and athletic administrators commences with a retreat. As part of the retreat team, I am giving the a reflection on Coaching: A vehicle for transformation. I believe that our task as coaches is to move our athletes from one place to another over the course of the season. We can only get there through trust, patience and love—fundamentals for a good relationship. I have always felt that the relationships I have made through coaching are the best part of the job. The late Vince Tringali, a great coach at St Ignatius spoke to that truth.
What do you get out of coaching? 
What you get from coaching is a relationship. And for some it only lasts a season. Still others, ask or need more of you and it extends beyond. And with some, the relationship lasts a lifetime. One that does not end in even with this life.
Indeed, a coach has a particular function. He or she leads the team and as the root of the word "coach" suggests, a coach transports their athletes from one place to another over the course of a season (more on the metaphorical than the literal...but as the golf coach—some say van driver ;-) However when I consider my role as a coach, I do not self-identify as Leader, Organizer and Motivator. No, the descriptors are too many. They are much more than a role that I play or a function I perform. They rest in relationship. The title "coach" says it all. 
For Springsteen, the music and the message has always had its own magic. Chemistry has always played a part with his band, the audience, the era, etc. And his quote speaks to something more. One plus one should equal two....but including God into that duo of coach and athlete, or coach and team makes something much more powerful. It's own sacred Trinity. The recipe for a holy, loving and dynamic relationship.

Glory Be....

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