Image Courtesy of John Bourassa
Another one of my old football coaches died last week. In fact, he was also a mentor, and positive male role model to me, and many others. Like a chickadee, “The Bern” was small in physical stature, but a big man in presence. The world needs colorful characters, and when they made you Bruce, they broke the mold. Looking back on our time together truly makes my heart sing, and spirits shine. Some old teammate friends and I have been reminicing about our Glory Days with Coach. We may all have our different versions and recollections, but one thing we can all agree on is that he was never boring, and he brought his A-Game to the party. Back when we played for him, we all worked hard, but not much glory came our way, as we rode the thunderous road of over a decade long losing streak. But what we didn’t rack up in wins, we did experience a sense of brotherhood, sisterhood, and communal spirit. We all share a trading post of plenty of great stories that many of us remember during our school days with Coach. Those in kind payoffs are priceless, and makes the cost of living worth the price of admission.
Coach was a present person, for better and for worse. You weren’t going to meet a more passionate guy who wore his heart on his sleeve. Like him, our football family wasn’t short on characters. And our world needs characters that breathe life into the mix. We came from different walks of life, we were all going through different experiences during our lives off the field because we all brought what we brought. Coach knew about all that, and made it a point to let you know that he had your back if and when you needed his support. I remember when I was a sophomore, Coach informed me that I was going to learn a new position so that it would be a win-win for the team and me. It was a blow to my ego at the time because I felt like I had done something wrong or was being demoted because I wasn’t good enough to stay in my natural position. But Coach quickly helped me see the light, and said the right words that matched what his attached emotion was saying to me. He was an intense guy, and when he spoke from his heart with that intensity, well you all know the old saying that you can’t BS someone else who has the gift of the art.
Coach was 71 years young when he left this planet. From what I have gathered, he was having a hard time, but thankfully died peacefully in his sleep with loved ones nearby at least. Although I hadn’t physically seen him in almost 30 years, my heart is full of gratitude for Coach inspiring me to want to be a better man both on and off the field. I heard a chickadee singing this morning, and then I heard the following lyrics: “Ultimately, greatness is simply the best of what humanity has to offer. Greatness does what has not been done before and inspires the same courage that it requires. When we see it in others, we know it, and when we trust its presence in ourselves, we embody it.”
We’ll miss you Coach. Thank you for shining your light on our world. You are an inspiration, and your spirit lives on in all of us that you touched.