Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sometimes a Picture Can't Tell a Story

Whew!  And just like that, the 2013 fall sports season is officially complete.  

Some day there will be a time and place for me to relive all of the highlights from each individual program's run to the State Finals.  But it is not going to happen on this blog tonight.

I do want to take the time and talk about a picture.  It is actually 2 pictures laid out one on top of the other.

These pictures were taken nearly a week apart from each other.  The picture on top was preceded by extreme amounts of joy, accomplishment, anticipation and victory.  The picture on the bottom was preceded by disappointment, frustration, sadness and defeat.

Now if I showed these pictures to someone from the South Christian community, it would be very likely that they could tell me which picture was which.  But if I showed these pictures to someone unfamiliar with our football program and our recent games, I do not believe that they could tell me which one was after a win and which one was after a loss.

I love the fact that during the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, the coaches in ALL of our sports programs show how important it is that we honor God in our efforts and that we give thanks to God for the opportunities we receive.  

Winning is fun.  Losing hurts.  But knowing that we are unconditionally loved by God is our greatest victory.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Never Grow Up

During my time as the Athletic Director at Fowlerville High School, I was encouraged to start a blog.  Intimidating to say the least.  My first thought was, "Who cares what I have to say?"  I also thought, "I stink at writing."  Well after about 10 rough drafts and a half a bag of Oreos (my weakness), my 1st post went on the web and the feedback was positive.  So I did a few more and again, I received some good feedback.  I think you can look back and see them...

So after a CRAZY 5 months with the transition to South Christian, I am back with a few things to share!

Oh, and one more thing before I start..."I LOVE BEING A PART OF THE SOUTH CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY"!!!  There, I just had to get that off my chest!
"Never Grow Up"

As an AD, it is vital to carve out specific times and activities with your family.  So we do a lot of things together when I am home.  One highlight in the Copeland house a few times a week is bath time.  Cram everyone into the bathroom, with both kids (Kenlee - almost 4 and Gracyn - just over 5 months) in the tub at the same time and the dog (Dupree - the lazy lovable lab) in the doorway.  My wife, Kelly (who is the most incredible person I have ever met), always dials up the Pandora - Taylor Swift station on her phone during bath time (not my favorite choice, but Kelly and Kenlee are big fans).  It was fitting that tonight's 1st song was by Miss Taylor herself and it was titled, "Never Grow Up".
This was the 1st time I had ever heard this song, and it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I volunteered to go to the kids rooms and get their pj's ready...also selfishly I did not want the Girls to see me shed some tears.  My kids are growing so fast and I am afraid that I am going to go to bed tonight and they are going to be all grown up and gone.  It hurts my heart to even think about it!

I then thought about all of the parents of seniors at South.  I tried to put myself in their shoes.  I am sure that they can remember their child's 1st steps, 1st words, 1st day of school and so on.  But I am also sure they are thinking - WHERE DID THE TIME GO?

I pray that each and every one of them has a great experience during their last run as Sailors.  Whether they are in the band or cross country, choir or volleyball, I want to say thanks for giving us the opportunity to work with them.  You have released them into a safe environment where their successes are real and memorable, and that their failures are not fatal and not final.  Each one is incredibly talented in their own way.  I loved seeing their enthusiasm on Thursday for their service projects and the "Mixer" (which was awesome!).

Each one is someone's baby boy or girl.  Each one is their parents most prized possession.  As teachers and coaches, we are not perfect and we make mistakes, but we are striving to be "Kingdom Workers" and Christ-like in how we do what we do.  We sometimes get caught up in the grind, and sometimes we fail to realize just how important each and every one them are to those who love them.

Thank you for your patience with us.  Thank you for your support.  Thank you for challenging us to be better.

And while you want them to "Never Grow Up", I THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart, that you are allowing us to grow up with them!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What Really Matters

Today I received a phone call from an old co-worker and friend.  For about 2 weeks now, I knew that phone call was coming.  When I answered the phone, it went just like I thought it would.  The other line was filled with more sniffles and tears than actual words.  I ended the conversation by saying, "Tell everyone that I love them, and that I will see them soon."

Back in 2010 while I was working at Hope College, my supervisor and friend Derek Emerson's family was dealt a terrible hand in the game of life.  His 4 year old adopted son, Oliver, had been diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma...a very aggressive and painful form of Cancer.  The department that I worked for was a very close knit group, and I considered them to be just like family.  So when he shared the news with us that Oliver was going to be challenged with a very long and endless road to recovery, it rocked us all.

Before his diagnosis, Oliver was THE HAPPIEST KID IN THE WORLD!  Derek said that often when he was playing at home, Oliver would look up at him and just say the word "Happy". He was full of life and incredibly innocent.  When he would visit our office, he would light it up with his presence and smile.  If you we're having a bad day when he visited, your outlook quickly changed when he showed up!  After his diagnosis, Oliver was still incredibly positive.  After countless treatments, surgeries and trips from Holland to The DeVos Children's Hostipal in Grand Rapids, he stayed positive.  He had us all convinced that he was going to beat his opponent in the long run. I could go on for days telling you about his strength and courage.

His father Derek is hands down one of the strongest people I have ever met.  When I worked for him, I could always go to him for advice and encouragement. He not only was a rock for his family and friends, but he was the model for "being a parent of a kid who has cancer". Always positive, but always realistic.  He has been an incredible influence on me as a parent.  He has a lot to do with who I am today.

So as you probably can tell, I am doing a little bit of rambling as I fight through a lot of emotions.  And you know where this is story is going.  Yes, the phone call I received today informed me that Oliver lost his battle with Cancer this morning while he was resting at home with his entire family by his side, just as they had been for the past 2 1/2 years.  My life has forever been changed by the strength of a father and the courage of his son.

So, I have been asking myself all day long, "What Really Matters?"
Does the call that the umpire just missed really matter?
Does your child's playing time really matter?
Does where you bat in the lineup or which leg of the relay you run really matter?

What matters is how you treat people.  What matters is how you can inspire someone to do their best in the worst possible conditions.  What matters how we love and support each other when we need it the most.

What matters to me is that was lucky enough to know a great kid like Oliver.
Please join me in sending your thoughts and prayers to the Emerson Family in Holland, MI tonight.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Great Weekend - Great People

Just some quick thoughts as we wrap up an incredible weekend of Fowlerville Athletics;

- I can not say THANK YOU enough to all the people who made our 2nd Annual "Get Your Pink On" Event a success.  The competition gym was a sea of pink on Friday.  The themes of "Fighting" and "Never Giving Up" were very evident from start to finish.  Each of our student athletes displayed courage and determination while giving their best effort until the clock hit 0:00.  I am proud to be a Gladiator and everyone in this great community should feel the same.  You are all #cancerwarriors!

- Our Competitive Cheer team attended Albion High School's "Wildcat Invitational" on Saturday.  The young Gladiator squad came home with their highest scores of the season and secured a 3rd place finish!  They will wrap up their CAAC season at HOME this Wednesday at 6pm in the Auxiliary Gym.  Make sure you stop by and support them!

- Our Wrestling team's regular season campaign came to a close at home on Saturday.  The Glads claimed a share of the CAAC Red Division Championship with a solid 2nd place performance in the Divisional Tournament.  Once again, the true CHARACTER of our student athletes was in full force as each one of them gave great effort in front of a great home crowd.  Again, the people who volunteered to help the meet run so well can not be thanked enough.  You are all are champions in my eyes!  The squad rolls into the MHSAA Tournament at Fenton on Thursday for Team Districts and Mason on Saturday for Individual Districts.  Good luck in the Tournament men!

- Special recognition goes out to Brian Moran and Adam Coon.  These tremendous young men finished their regular seasons with undefeated records that culminated with CAAC All-Conference and Individual Championships at their respective weight classes. We are all very proud of you!

#GoGlads #WinTheDay

Monday, January 28, 2013

February Frenzy

Friday is the 1st day of February.  It is also signals of the home stretch for our Winter Sports teams.  It is time for coaches and student athletes to really narrow their focus when it comes to their respective post season challenges.

February also begins with 2 significant events that will take place at FHS.

Friday, February 1 - The Second Annual "Get Your Pink On" Basketball Event
Boys Varsity Basketball vs. Ionia - 6pm
Girls Varsity Basketball vs. Ionia - 7:30pm

Both our teams will be competing in locally sponsored, custom made Pink uniforms with names of cancer victims and survivors on the back.  There will also be various fundraising activities scheduled including face painting, t-shirt sales and a bake sale.  Everyone is encouraged to wear pink, pack the gym, support our basketball programs and join them in their fight against cancer.  #cancerwarriors

Saturday, February 2 - CAAC Red Division Wrestling Championships
Individual Wrestling Tournament - 9:30am

Our Varsity Wrestling team finished their regular season schedule with a 25-3 record while scoring a 5-0 finish in the CAAC Red Division.  This Saturday we will be host to DeWitt, Haslett, Ionia, Owosso and St. Johns for our division's Championship meet.  We will run JV and Varsity Individual tournaments simultaneously starting at 9:30am.  Come out and support our Wrestlers who are looking to capture a conference championship as a TEAM as well as multiple individual championships at their respective weight classes.

#GoGlads #WinTheDay

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Multiple Sports - Multiple Advantages

While reading the MHSAA's "Second Half" website, I came across a blog written by Chris Kennedy.  The title of the entry was "The Multi-Sport High School Athlete".  You can read it in full here: The Multi-Sport High School Athlete

Mr. Kennedy brings up some very interesting points that really go along with my overall philosophy of educational athletics.

1.  Cross training and participation in multiple sports does not hurt you in one or the other.  It only helps you become a more "well-rounded" student athlete.

2.  Year round paid "club" coaches like working with your kids.  They like your money even more.  They don't have to worry about if a student athlete is going to be eligible from week to week.  They don't deal with the unique dynamic that exists between classmates.  Rarely do they care about the kid who talks trash on Twitter.  They take the "best" kids from each school and dangles the hottest gear and swag in front of them.  They are more focused on the product, rather than the process.

3.  He states that "development" is a current buzzword in sports.  I agree.  We also hear the phrase "next level" on a daily basis.  But if we slow down, take a step out of the grind and look at the "next level", we should be looking beyond college and the all mighty and mythical athletic scholarship.  Instead of focusing on developing our kids to excel at a specific sport, we need to be focused on developing them into productive citizens of society.  We need to focus on building people of tremendous character who understand commitment, trust, loyalty and integrity.  We need to focus on developing outstanding husbands and wives, fathers and mothers.

We have a teacher/coach in our school who was a Division 1 scholarship athlete.  He was a multi-sport athlete in high school.  We have a current senior who will be attending one of the best academic institutions in the country next fall.  He will be accepting a full athletic scholarship.  He is a current high school multi-sport athlete.

I say play as many sports as you can.  I say play them to the best of your ability.  I say have as much fun as you possibly can.