On Monday Drew Gibbs passed away suddenly at age 59 – a rupture in his aorta during practice on Monday Night and the “widow maker” took an amazing coach and an even better human being. It’s been literally decades since I coached with Drew. I met him first as a player and then we coached together for a few years after. After that I would see him once or twice a year, catch up and then be on our way.
Next Friday our school is going to face his team in the state championship…and that would have been another quick hello until the next time.
Drew left behind a legacy of more than seven state championships and back to back undefeated seasons – he left behind generations of people who, for the most part, are a better off…better human beings for knowing him. During his life he positively influenced thousands of people because he was one of those rare human beings who possessed the BIG THREE.
As a coach, instructor, mentor…we need to possess all three to be a great leader.
Know your job and always seek to improve. Have compassion for others and consider the well being of the individual against the cost of winning and finally – simply do what’s right. It’s a constant balancing act, and not easy to do.
More times than not I’ve had instructors who had one or NONE of the big three. They let WINNING override compassion and they felt that WINNING gave them entitlement to do what (or who) they wanted, when they wanted. If they weren’t successful they took no responsibility and blamed the talent around them.
I’ve seen them abuse their power and influence well beyond their scope. I once saw an instructor convince his students to dig a hole in his yard for a septic tank…and paint his house.
Keeping the balance is a constant battle. As human beings our ego will sometimes get the best of us and I’m sure Drew was no different, though I never saw it. During our time together coaching he was the voice of reason and knew exactly what was wrong and how to fix it. I probably every young coaching mistake you could make…and Drew was there to put me in the right direction.
My father was taken suddenly in the same way when he was 66, it’s all surreal. For his players, I can only imagine how you feel. When you take the field against us next Friday, it will mean something else, something more…and I think it will be something amazing for both sides. I can’t think of a better way to honor Coach Gibbs than to play for a state championship under Friday Night Lights.
The one thing I tell my kids and instructors is to leave the world better than you found it. That happens if the people around you are better off for knowing you. Are you making their lives better or worse?
Hopefully, at the end of your run there are more in the plus column.