One of the traditions that we encourage coaches to make a part their program is a "season-ending letter" to each one of the players in their mentor group.
I just recently had a personal experience of how amazing a simple letter can be, both for the writer and the receiver.
23 years ago when I was a Junior in High School I had a math teacher by the name of Robert Sagedy. He was, without a doubt, THE best math teacher and one of the the best overall teachers I ever had.
As many of you know, I am not the "sharpest tool in the shed" and in math, even less.
At the end of the school year Mr Sagedy was kind enough to write me a very nice one page letter. Mr Sagedy is the type of man who truly loves his students and he poured everything he had into them in an astounding way.
Well a few days ago my Dad found that letter at his home and he mailed it to me. It is hard to describe what one feels reading something like that 23 years later.
Today as I was driving, out of the blue, I remembered that one day in class I was not getting what Mr Sagedy was trying to teach us, not much of a surprise there. But what was a surprise was that Mr Sagedy tried 9 different ways to explain the concept. He never got upset, never got flustered or impatient.
Finally on the 9th try I got it and from that moment forward I did so much better in that class. A little background - I hated math and did not do well in it. So helping a student understand, excel and "slightly" enjoy the subject is pretty miraculous.
I decided to make an effort to see if I could make contact with this great man. Here is the beauty of the internet.
I found a Robert A. Sagedy with the same zip code as my old high school. I called and the answering machine picked up - it was Rita Sagedy. I had no idea what I was doing so I left the message saying that I was looking for an old teacher, apologizing if I had the wrong number.
Rita called back 4 minutes later. She explained that her husband is 73 and has alzheimer's and probably will not remember you but please give it a try and be patient. She put us on speaker.
He instantly remembered who I was and we had a wonderful conversation to the complete amazement of his wife. She said he has trouble remembering what he had for breakfast much less ...
I explained that I had 5 children and he quipped, "Well at least you learned how to multiply." Classic Mr Sagedy.
At the end of the call, he got very emotional and said, "This is what I live for. To know that I did some good in someone's life. You have no idea what this means to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You've made my year. Please mail me a letter with a family photo. I appreciate this so much."
You can't put a price tag on an experience like this.
So please - write a letter to your players. You never know - that letter might help you, the writer, 23 years later more that you will ever know right now.
And of you feel the need to reach out to a former teacher or coach to thank them. Please do. You may make their year!
Virtue = Strength, Lou