Game of life seen through the lens of sports

Education Notes

Steve Reaves is head coach and athletic director at the Port Aransas Independent School District.

Steve Reaves is head coach and athletic director at the Port Aransas Independent School District.

Having been a coach all of my adult life, and with the Port Aransas ISD for the past 22 years, I can honestly say that I still love my job as much today as I did when I started. I absolutely love teaching and coaching teenagers and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

As we are approaching the end of another year in athletics, we will have a chance to look back and celebrate our successes, and we have had a lot of them. Both the boy and girl cross-country teams advanced to the regional meet for the 14th year in a row, with the boys advancing to state for the 13th year in a row. Both the boys’ and girls’ teams won a district championship and advanced to the playoffs in basketball again. Baseball and softball are in the middle of district play, each competing for a playoff spot. Track will be and golf was represented at the regional meet, and Zach Childs will represent PAISD at the state tennis tournament. But more important than all of these accolades, the coaching staff understands that the most important thing that we do is not reflected in these stats, but in the kids that graduate and leave our programs.

PAISD has been committed to hiring and keeping a coaching staff that not only believes this, but practices it. Each of our coaches spends their days in the classroom, their afternoons in practice, and during their sport, a few nights a week on a bus traveling distances up to three hours each way to transport our kids to compete.

Our coaches have families of their own, and many a coach’s child has been raised on the bleachers, court or field while watching their parents’ work. But that’s the thing: For our coaches, this isn’t just a job. They love what they do. They love working with a student over and over again to perfect a left-handed lay-up, or achieve a personal record on the track; and they love sharing the excitement with the student that finally “gets it” in the classroom.

We see our job as a calling, some might even say a ministry. We know this is what we were born to do. We pour our lives into the lives of our kids hoping to show them there is a path that isn’t always easy, but is always right. We are not perfect, far from it in fact, and our kids know it. But my hope is that these kids, your kids, see the consistency and forward motion to always improve, always work hard, and always respect themselves and their teammates. We teach our athletes to pick themselves up when they fall, to continue when it’s hard, to win gracefully; and if they lose, lose with integrity, but never to get out-worked.

We teach them little by little in each practice and each game, and over time, they grow into young men and women with sound values. Values they have learned in class, in athletics, and through their relationships. Their eventual growth and ability to make better decisions is not unlike what we hope to see in the stock market arrow: It ebbs and flows a little , but the long-term trend is rising. And this is why we do our job, what I consider the greatest job on earth.

The old adage that it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, but how you play the game is the core of who I am. Don’t misunderstand me; I love to win, but I also understand that when you do things the right way, winning takes care of itself. We get the privilege of taking 12- and 13-year-old students and helping them grow into young men and women by time they leave our programs and we are lucky enough to get to use sports to accomplish this. The real challenge is not x’s and o’s but the game of life. The mission for all of us coaches at PAISD is to help our athletes win that one.

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