An Easy Call

For Me, Coaching Was Never Just A Job

This article was written by Tony Lotti, Head Football Coach at West Hall High School in Oakwood, Georgia, as part of our exploration of what it means to be a coach and shape the lives of young men. This December, we will honor our 2015 Caring Coaches of the Year at the College Football Hall of Fame.

I have heard some coaches refer to what they do as a job, while others refer to it as a calling. Have you ever wondered what the difference is? It’s really pretty simple:

If you’ve ever questioned why you do what you do, well, you just have a job.

The coaching profession is hard, with plenty of distractions that will attack your perspective, and it is those distractions that will help you determine whether you have a calling or simply a job.

In my third season last year at West Hall, our team went 9–2 and won our school’s first-ever region championship in its 27-year history. As I type this letter, this season we are 2–5 and in danger of not even making the playoffs. The old saying “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” is tried and true. You can’t fool people — they will know if you care.

In the midst of the criticism that has come with losses on the field and struggles on the scoreboard, a simple tweet from one of my players the other day continues to solidify my calling: “I love you coach, you are the only father figure I have.”

In a couple of weeks, my own son will finish his high school football playing career and move away from me to play football in college. My deepest fear during my own career was that I had neglected him while he was growing up because of how much time I spent away from my own home to be there for “other people’s children”on and off the football field. These four years with him on my team gave my son even more insight as to why I do what I do. He now knows for sure that this is not just about a pigskin or a ring. He has insights as to his teammates’ personal struggles and situations and how his dad fits into that equation. My son told me this season that he “gets it,” so for that, I am very thankful.

To put it plainly, coaches get fired from jobs, but caring coaches have a calling and simply get moved to make a difference somewhere else. My job is to shepherd the young men given to me. That’s what I have been instructed to do.

Coach Lotti

Know a coach who’s been an influential force in their players’ lives?
Share this piece with them and celebrate the place they hold in your life.

You can also find advice and tips on how to make a positive impact
as a coach in our Caring Coaches Curriculum:

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