Sunday, April 4, 2010

My Year As Head Lacrosse Coach at Hempstead Part 2

My dad Fred Opie Jr. as a young guy in the Air Force. I am named after Frederick Douglass in part because my mother did not want a Fred Opie the 3rd and both my parents had an historical compass that guided their decisions like their children's names

When I was the Varsity Lacrosse Coach as Hempstead High School, I will never forget when my father came to see one of our home games in 1989. My dad was old school, a veteran, a Sing Sing Prison guard for over 25 years, and the EF Hutton type. At the same time, he was a very wise guy and keen observer who would drop nuggets of truth which you could bank on. He watched me interact with my team during the first half and during half time of a game in which we were losing badly. Right after halftime he build me to the side and made a statement that still remember and which informs my teaching, coaching, and parenting: “You are arguing too much with them, just say what you need to say and that’s it.” My father made a good point, respectful give and take is acceptable but don’t get into peer to peer arguments with the folks who are not your peers. I often tell students, “I am not here to be your friend, I am here to teach you what I know and you need to learn.” I have become friends with former students and players, but I maintain a clear line with those I am in authority over that I am not one of their peers and they need to remember that when they address me. I've learned from students that my size and booming voice can be intimidating. So more often than not I spend more time encouraging students (and athletes I coach) that I am approachable especially if they have question or want to make a comment during class or office hours or need advice.

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