New Sense of Purpose
I remember the look of surprise on the faces of the management of the Elancourt Templiers when I told them I would be interested in volunteering to help coach the club's Under-19 team. I am not sure why I caught them off-guard with my desire to help, maybe that wasn't a typical interest for a 22-year old import in Paris, but since coaching is always what I have wanted to do when I am finished playing and I had plenty of time on my hands since the Men's team only practiced twice a week, I figured why not.
I went to the first practice as the Quarterbacks Coach and left the Offensive Coordinator and Assistant Head Coach. I quickly assumed the role of teaching 20 or so French teenagers offensive football. These kids were raw to say the least and it showed in our first game when we got pounded by one of the better teams in north France. I don't want to say the score but it was an awfully lot to an awfully little. Needless to say, there wasn't a quick cure or enlightenment that took place once I joined the staff, but we had about 15 kids that were really passionate and we got to work. We basically had to start from scratch and just focus on getting better every day. I don't quite remember our exact record but what I do remember is beating that same team that pummeled us in the first game of the season, 21-7, in the last game of the season. We barely missed the playoffs, due to our very shaky start, but we got better every day and finished one of the best U-19 teams in north France.
That season with those kids taught me so much about communication (due to the language barrier), about myself as a leader, and most importantly, that there are teenagers and young adults in Europe that are extremely passionate about American Football and just want to learn as much as human possible. They inspired me to coach as much as possible and as soon as possible. That is partly the reason I have coached the youth of the Raiders since the minute I got to Innsbruck and partly the reason I am starting the Sean Shelton Quarterback Academy. They showed me how rewarding coaching can be and taught me not to fear the end of my playing career but actually to look forward to it, because then I can just focus on coaching. To this day, I still get just as much enjoyment out of coaching as I do playing, if not more. It is the ability influence change in someones life through the game of football that is so wonderful. Whether it is instilling discipline, teamwork or work ethic, football can give young people so many tools that will benefit them on the field but more importantly, in life. I hope I can effect change in the people that I work with, just like several great men, and a group of french teens have done for me.