Everything I learned about coaching kids I learned from Peyton Manning


I know I should be doing something else now, editing NEASC reports, grading Mrs. Dalloway essays (Lord, help me – why’d I ever assign that crap?), darning my kids socks so they don’t have to go barefoot to school again tomorrow. But I had an experience tonight I just have to share, one that might just change the course of your life as well.

I had almost forgotten how much I love coaching basketball. I mean, I love my kids and all, but I really love coaching. And tonight I got a chance to run a practice for Katie’s third and fourth grade rec basketball team.

How inspiring! How invigorating! We weren’t more than five minutes into practice when I found myself in full-throated scream, not more than six inches from Sara’s face, “Get your head out of your ass, girl! When you drive left, you dribble with your g*dd*m left hand. That’s twice now I told you!”

The look she gave back to me, you know the one that looks like terror but is really joy, that sense you get when some adult mentor cares enough not to let you settle for mediocrity, is warming my heart at this very moment. And once I got that taste of the power that coaching authority has to shape young minds and attitudes, I was like a prize pig slopping at a trough full of profane motivation.

“Set that screen on a f***in’ angle, Zoe!” “Make a g*dd*m layup just one f***ing time, Jade!”

I wasn’t the only one feeling the energy in the room, either. Not only did the girls run faster than they ever had before, but a couple of the mothers actually started shooting video on their phones. I can’t wait to see myself on youtube.

Once I finally gave the girls a water break, one of the moms came over to try to “correct” my coaching. Fortunately, I was able to give her a little education instead. Politely, of course. I explained that “Get your head out of your ass” is simply, “Please make an effort to pay closer attention,” just in sportspeak, that what she mistook for her daughter peeing in her pants was just sweat from the most intense workout she’d ever had, that her tears were not fear and frustration but the cathartic release that comes from understanding that an adult respects you enough not to treat you like a child, even if you’re wearing sneakers whose lights flash with every step you take.

I realize now what’s been missing from my teaching the last few years, and I promise that I will turn a new page tomorrow. No more passive “due dates.” No more wimpy British crap. No more literature that isn’t dripping with the sweet residue of f-bombs. Things are gonna f***in’ change, and you have that as a promise.



  1. for the Latin students in mcateer period 3 who will be taking the national Latin exam tomorrow, I ask (I beg) that someone records tomorrow’s legendary class.

  2. This is mildly terrifying

  3. i’m still waiting for your first fbomb

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