By Dan Duddy
In comparison to many football coaches on the high school level I have been blessed with many wins. I am also truly amazed at how many victories other coaches have accumulated, well above my count, some with fewer years in. My high school head coach is 82 years of age, has over 350 wins and is still coaching. I have been coaching for 31 years; head coach for 16 years and am closing in on my first 100. I plan on surpassing my head coach, but the challenge is that I will be 106 years old when it happens.
I have lots of great memories, a few cold ice-buckets over the head, and once I was carried off the field on the shoulders of a bunch of great kids. Now, that was cool.
My greatest win of all though happened on the weekend of Friday January 22nd through Sunday the 24th. I write this to you as my plane taxis for take-off from Atlantic City, New Jersey to Atlanta, Georgia. When I arrive, with my wife Maura, we will meet Avery Renee for the first time. She's a beautiful little girl of 4 months. I have seen her photos. Now I will hold her in my arms. I will be her Godfather on Saturday at her Christening. I am flying to my biggest win ever.
Her dad, Louis C. Brown III has a huge place in my heart as an ex-player, but more so as the man he is today. He is family to me. He will be thirty years old on the 31st, next weekend. I want my sons to know him more. I want him to be their big brother, I love my sons more than anything and I want Louis in my family. To me he is a son as well, and will always have his place in my home amongst my five sons.
Lou came to my football program in his sophomore year. I knew immediately that he was a football player because of the thunderous thud his pads made when he collided with another football player. The new young kid had something to prove, and he proved it quickly, and he did so among a bunch of very tough kids.
I didn't know much about him personally except that he was being raised by his mother, and that he kept a vigilant eye on his younger sister Virginia. It was a family built on faith and love. Mom, who I have come to call Vanessa, had laid down some tremendous character prerequisites for football. I asked her one day, "What's your secret?” She said "Just Keep loving him".
Well, I do love Louis Brown. As he was that very first day, although in a much deeper way today, fifteen years later, he is a confident, strong and clean living man of great virtue; a humble and loving man-servant, yet a proud and tough father with great memories of his football days. Those memories include the span of the triumphs of a great "scoop and score" of a fumble recovery in his senior year of high school, to the scars on both his knees from the multiple surgeries while at Lehigh University, where he gained fame once more for his signature collisions.
Louis stands stoically as protector, provider and leader of his family with his beautiful wife Renee. When Louis asked me to serve as Godfather of his little girl it was powerful, not only because of his deep love for her, but faith is important to him. This was no social courtesy. Coaching football had now brought a victory to my life that was far greater than any before. This immediately presented a perspective to coaching that is life changing and will consequently change the lives of future football players in my program.
My wife Maura shared this moment with me entirely and unselfishly, a revelation that made me feel tremendously blessed and lifted us to a higher level of intimacy. After all, she was the catalyst for my new-born faith and all my works within this vocation. Maura told me "I am so proud of you", and I will never forget that.
Every man fundamentally wants to be a woman's hero. Both want his heroism to stem from conquests. Every woman innately wants a man to scoop her up on his horse, proclaim her as his prize, and ride off into the sunset to begin a life together, to lead her and her children, provide for all, and protect them from evil and harm.
A man who can't do this hasn't healed from his adolescent wounds or was just never mentored or led by another man, and a woman who denies this and claims a proud independence of it suffers as well, either from wounds, or a plain lack of manly example in her past.
I have been blessed to be in Louis' family and I know he feels the same. We both have been blessed with great women, and I believe they too feel the same about their men.
In Proverbs you will find the verse that says "As Iron Sharpens Iron, So does One Man Sharpen Another". I am a stronger and sharper servant because of the verb, my title, “Coach", which Avery will call me as Louis and Renee continue to do so, and I love that. But now completely intermingled in that word for the first time in my life is "GODFATHER" of Louis' and Renee's precious baby girl and my wife, Maura, completely indulged herself , and...It made her proud.
THIS IS A MAN'S GREATEST VICTORY.