November 1, 2014
Report from Chicago: USA v. New Zealand AllBlacks
After nervously waiting through three different weather delays for my flight from SF to Chicago, I suffered through a rather unnerving flight to the windy city. Those of you who have had the, shall we say, “pleasure” of flying with me will understand. An Indy 500-like shuttle ride to the hotel got me into bed around 2:30 am after finishing up some work.
Up at 7:00 am Chicago time and a bit of a run (jog/walk?) along the river made me realize that this is a different type of cold than at home. It actually stings. When I got back to the hotel, I was surprised by the circus-like atmosphere that evolved in the 90 minutes that I had been gone. The lobby was awash with All Black jerseys. Kiwi accents from every conversation. The bar was PACKED and it was only 8:45 am! I then learned that the All Blacks were staying here when I rode the elevator with All Black Coach Steve Hansen. I didn’t have my phone (camera) but I told him that I coached school boys and asked him what he thought the most important part of teaching rugby was. My mind raced. Was he going to talk about decision making at the tackle contest? Complex patterns in attack? WHAT? His answer? In a quiet, tenor-like, heavily accented voice he turned to me as he stepped off the elevator and said, “make sure you keep it fun, mate. If it’s fun they play until the day they can’t walk.” I wished him the best of success and asked to not beat the US by more than 100 points.
As I rode back to my floor, I thought about what he said. Arguably the best coach of the best team in the world told me to keep it fun for the boys. And as I write this, I think about our club, our administrators and our players, but mostly my coaches.
My coaching staff is doing a tremendous job of keeping it fun for our players, while providing great instruction on tactics, safety and the ethos of the game. We are very fortunate to have the group of coaches that we do, and I think that sometimes they are taken for granted. Let’s not take our coaches for granted. They do a lot for the club and especially the players. Every once and a while send your coach an email or text and tell him that he is doing a good job; because as the Head Coach, I KNOW he is, or he wouldn’t be part of my staff.
Off to the game,