A good friend of mine, Truman State head football coach Gregg Nesbitt, once said he believed that coaching was the best relationship business there is. The friendships formed there will be able to last a lifetime, he said.
I've never coached, but I completely understand what he was talking about. Even though the late nights and the long hours in covering games got to be a grind at times, I took solace in knowing that there is somebody at the game that I could connect with, someone who took the time to commend me on a story in which I mentioned a relative of theirs -- whether it would be a son, daughter, grandson or granddaughter. Sports is a great way for folks to come together.
Many times I would not know the person who congratulated me on doing the story, but they would later explain to me who they are and I'd be flattered that they would still remember me and greet me when we met in a non-athletic setting. The ability to interact with people is what makes the world go around, I think.
When I went to college at what is now Truman State, I was fortunate enough to hook up with the football and basketball players on campus and they showed an awfully lot of patience in letting me hang around them. One of the most enjoyable times I've had in recent years has been when my brother hosted a golf outing in the summer and a lot of the "Old Bulldogs" returned for it. It was a good group of fellows that made up the Bulldog basketball team back then and man, the stories we would tell. I take great pride in the fact that we all still keep in touch to this day.
Games come and go at an alarming rate at times, but the people who play them remain. That fact makes me think that coach Nesbitt knew what he was talking about when discussing the benefits of being involved in athletics.