There is great value in finding a mentor, and being a mentor to someone else. Brian had the fortune of counting St. Ignatius High School head football coach Chuck Kyle among his mentors. Brian played football for Kyle, helping St. Ignatius to a state title in 1992.
A number of years later, Brian boarded a plane, where he ran into Coach Kyle. Brian recounts the story in Chapter 24, “Athletic Endeavors.”
Right after I entered the cabin, I saw Coach Kyle taking his seat. He remembers all of his players, and when he saw me, he immediately recognized me and called out my name.
“Chico! What are you doing in Baltimore in July?” I said as we shook hands.
“Oh, I got this USA Football thing or whatever,” he said, trying to deflect attention. Turns out, he had just been picked to coach the U.S. team in the first-ever junior world championships. But he didn’t want to talk about that. He wanted to talk about me instead and what was going on in my life.
After we had talked for a few minutes, the woman sitting next to him asked us how we knew each other.
“Teacher,” he told her. “I was his teacher in high school.”
I actually never had Coach Kyle as a teacher, but he has always cast himself as an English teacher who also coaches football, never the other way around. His favorite quotes are from Shakespeare and Chaucer, not Vince Lombardi. The work that didn’t garner the headlines is the work that makes the biggest impact on his students. He has never forgotten that.
Everything Coach Kyle has taught me about accepting your successes graciously and remaining humble, he was still living. Yes, I have press clippings, a state title and a Harvard diploma as a result of my football career. But the most enduring lessons football taught me are the ones that don’t end up in my scrapbook or on my wall. They’re the lessons I try to impart on Logan and the values and virtues I try to live each day.