1 Samuel 16:7
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance
or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him.
For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward
appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
Proverbs 31:9judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Many years ago I coached a young man; he gave me hundreds of excuses of why he could not come to practice or could not do good in school. The list totaled over 165 excuses. In his Junior year, I gave that list to every player before the start of the high school season. I said, "you guys will need to come up with better excuses than these." That players went on to play in the USHL, Pro Hockey and win state and national championships as a coach. This player had a hard life during high school; most of his excuses were lies. Most of those lies were to protect others from finding out about his home situation. Sometimes we need to walk in that players shoes to understand the stories behind the lies. We need to go the extra mile to help them. Some times there are hidden reasons behind the excuses. For some player the excuses are a call for help; but they are to proud or embarrassed to ask.
It easy as a coach to not buy into excuses. We instinctively know when players are lying. It is very easy to give up on players. It hard to know when enough is enough. I try never to give up on any players. There a fine line between success and failure. That line for me begins with commitment and that commitment needs to build over time. Success can only happen when players show up. As long as I could work with a player, I've always chosen to keep trying. But the reality of the situation is, one uncommitted player can lead to two, four and eight players.
I was having a problem with uncommitted players. I called a meeting, to release four players from the organization that were not coming to training. I had over 100 players in the club, so it is always a balancing act to keep everyone committed. The truth is some times someone needs to burned, to keep everyone in line. This was point I was going to make this day.
This story took place over a two year period. I was coaching 14 and Under club. This player had good potential, but always had excuses why he could not come to games and practice. I knew he was lying to me. The excuses just were piling up. I knew his excuses were not true. So eventually I released him. After the meeting the players I released came to see me. He told me the true reasons he has missing practices. His brother got in trouble with law and father is ill. He was embraced to tell me that his brother was in jail. This 14 years old boy was going to school, running a business by himself and trying to play hockey.
I could not have judged this players any more wrong than I did. I was giving up on a kid who was hard worker at home, taken care of his family and going to school. Before giving up on any kid; I want to encourage you to make sure you know the real story about your players. Learn what personal struggles your players have. Find out what battles they are facing daily in their lives.