by Kyle McKenna – Head Football Coach, Brooklyn Tech High School
When people ask me what I do, I answer that I am a teacher and a football coach. However, when I really look closely at it, I am an investor. I invest in potential and I attempt to refine and cultivate that potential into a positive result. I feel that I do very much the same thing in my role as a father. I help people through the good and the bad. Participating in education and the game of football provides a unique opportunity for me to function in a transformative role in the lives of the young people I work with.
I am the result of the investment that others have made in me, at one point or another. Whether those individuals were people that had a stake in the outcome of the investment or they were individuals that did so with no stake at all, those investments shaped who I am.
Young men and women need to experience transformative moments. In addition, young people need to know that caring about something, especially in a shared experience with others, will elevate them. They need to experience shared joy and shared misery and learn how to function within those emotions.
Related: Joe Ehrmann TED talk https://youtu.be/jVI1Xutc_Ws
For some, the football family of coaches, parents and players provide things that their own family does not. It may be a nod of encouragement, a push forward, or maybe just an adult that validates that their work is not going unnoticed. I am lucky that I have a mother and father that were always an inspiration and model for me. For others within my football family that were not so lucky, my parents also offered that to them. It is not to say that other sports do not do this, but the nature of role playing in football provides the opportunity for everyone to contribute . It is amazing what a person is capable of once they believe that they have the potential for greatness and the support to see it through.
I have seen the game of football used to help make a positive impact, most directly working with the Boomer Esiason Foundation on the Empire Challenge Football game. For over 20 years, this annual game has helped to improve the lives of those living with Cystic Fibrosis. At Brooklyn Tech, our players provide hundreds of hours of community service as an organized and mobile group. Football programs have the potential to do a great deal in the community.
Related: Empire Challenge Football Game http://www.empirechallenge.com/
Responsible football coaches are doing everything they can to help players to play the game safely. When the rules are changed to help player safety, we adapt and comply, and look to add to our awareness and education. I believe that football coaches and administrators recognize the need to coach the game safely and are supported by the NFL, USA Football, The National Football Foundation and the American Football Coaches Association.
The coaches and parents that I have surrounded myself with through football have inspired me to the path that I have chosen as a coach. The football program that I am fortunate enough to lead is never something that I take for granted. I have the opportunity to invest in a human and see those young men and women through high school and on to adult life. They are trees planted with solid foundations and the potential to pay forward all that they have received. The Brooklyn Tech coaching staff and I stand on the foundation of those that came before us. We do not do so alone. We have the support of a parent’s club and alumni foundation that understand our mission and work diligently toward it. We invest, and re-invest, and get to see the fruits of our labor as the leaders of others for years to come. The lessons learned go beyond the game of football. The lessons shape the world that is to come and fill it with accountable, ethical and strong individuals. They are people that can be relied upon when challenges seem overwhelming. This is why football is such a great game. This is why football matters.
Visit the National Football Foundation http://footballmatters.org/tags/highschool