Just recently, I came upon a story about a beloved coach whose students nominated him for a free trip to the Super Bowl because of the way he’d changed students’ lives over the last 33 years. It was so touching to hear stories from his current and former students: a disabled girl he sat with and ate lunch with when no one else would, handwritten inspirational notes that he gave at the right time, buying clothes and shoes for students in need, and even buying a class ring for a student who couldn’t afford it. I smiled when I saw this story as it made me think of Coach Bill McGill, the Athletics Director and assistant football coach at P.K. Yonge where I went to high school.
I grew up quite poor and when I started playing high school football, I faced a major challenge: the transportation to and from practices and games to my home which was 18 miles away. Not having a car to drive back and forth, it was my responsibility to figure out how to make that happen. Usually, I found myself out along the highway hitchhiking, oftentimes after dark. But, then there were a number of times that Coach McGill would pull up beside of me and say, “Hop in and I’ll drive you home.” I had to check my pride, while at the same time, feeling very appreciative of his kindness. And if the weather was cold that day, he would insist that I borrow his sweater. In our conversations, he always spoke in ways that made me feel I could do anything. His kindness and compassion had a way of making me feel, not like a disadvantaged boy, but like a young man with great potential. His integrity spoke volumes to me. The kindness and care Coach McGill showed me some 50+ years ago still resonates with me to my core today.
Over the years, I have done what I could to help others. From charity auctions to coaching and mentoring, it does my heart good to give back to help others, especially the youth and to the elderly; all influenced by Coach McGill.
For sure, Coach McGill’s kindness expands exponentially with time. He was kind to me, and when I pay it forward to help others, I believe they become inspired to help others, and so on and so on. I don’t think he realized at the time the snowball effect his kindness would produce.
As the old saying goes; A candle doesn’t lose its flame by lighting another candle. As we reach out and help to brighten another person’s life, it will brighten our own life as well! That’s what Coach McGill taught me, and I hope to teach to others.