The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Coaches can be positive adult connections for young athletes

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Regarding the Nov. 7 Sports article “For coaches, the lines have blurred”:

My first year on the junior varsity football team in 1966, I encountered a coach who was a screamer, somewhat of a bully and who taunted us. He dared anyone to knock him off the two-man sled during tackling drills. He would situate himself atop the back of the sled, gripping the two iron posts, whistling each guy to take a turn tackling the sled.

One practice, I carefully observed his body language after each guy hit the sled. I saw that he relaxed momentarily before he whistled the next guy to go. When my turn came, I didn’t wait for his whistle; I timed it to hit the sled when his body was at rest and I knocked him into the air and flat on his backside. It was a cathartic moment for the team.

Many years later, it’s clear to me that many of my early experiences helped influence my decision to later work with children and teenagers in the field of mental health. I knew the importance of positive peer and adult connections and that it didn’t come easy for too many kids. I made a career of helping change that.

Andrew Malekoff Long Beach, N.Y.

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