Teachers and What They Taught Me: Coach Windsor

Growing up, football was always something that I enjoyed and that didn’t change whenever I got to high school. I absolutely loved carrying the ball and the thrill of having a bunch of people trying to knock your block off. Coach Windsor brought about a bigger love for the game that I did not know was deep down inside of me.

We found out we were getting a new coach for my senior year, and we were able to meet him during the spring of my junior year. His personality was electric and I could tell from that point on that he probably had what our team was going to need: a passion for the game and the athletes, a disciplinarian mindset on the field, and an inspiring, larger than life personality.

Coach Windsor genuinely cared about his athletes and seemed like an expert at reading us. I knew he could read me well the first time at one of our summer practices, whenever I asked a few questions regarding a play and he said, “Bruner, you think too much, just do YOUR job.” I realized then that if I was going to have success at carrying the ball frequently, I needed to just do my job and let everyone else do there’s; that’s how a team works. He later said something to me about how it’s great to be a thinker, but sometimes you just have to go for it. I think that simple phrase has stuck with me longer than he figured it would.

So, yes I think too much, ask too many questions sometimes, and even open my mouth when I shouldn’t, but I am glad to have had a person like Coach Windsor who understood me and knew how to draw my best out of me. I knew I would never play football again after high school, so I was glad to have such a passionate coach to lead our team. I can say with the utmost certainty that that year was the most fun I have ever had playing football and I bet most of the seniors would say the same.

Now I see him at principal’s conferences and meetings and it’s always a pleasure to get to talk and hang out with him, even if it’s only briefly. So, similar to what I have done with the previous two stories in this series, I want to reflect on a few stories/memories about Coach Windsor that have stuck with me all of these years.

The First Day of Summer Weights

Let me begin this story by saying I have no idea what I was thinking at the time because typically I was early showing up for things, but on this particular day (first day of summer weights with a NEW COACH), I showed up a few minutes late! Looking back, I wish I would’ve just turned around before walking in and came back for afternoon weights, but I had to work, so I walked on in… BIG MISTAKE!

Before I could jump into the pre-lifting agilities, Coach Windsor stopped me and basically asked me what I thought I was doing. I honestly had no answer for him and he told me to go home and come back to afternoon weights and BE EARLY. I thought that was going to be it, but thank goodness he stopped me before I left and he essentially asked me how I expected to be a leader of this team if I show up late on the first day and that I needed to think about what my role is going to be because I was off to a bad start, but it wasn’t too late to prove to him that I was dedicated.

So, two lessons I learned from what he said to me that day: 1. Lead by example. 2. You only get one second chance to make it right, after that you’ve burnt a bridge. I look back on that very day with thankfulness that he made me go home because I needed to be held accountable, but I’m also glad he gave me a second chance to prove that I would never let something like that happen again.

Putnam County Halftime

It was the ninth game of the season and Putnam County and us were the top two teams in the district and only one winner would advance to the playoffs. Things were off to a very rocky start and after some huge plays by them we found ourselves down 21–7 at halftime. We hadn’t came back on anyone that season, so it was seeming fairly grim that we would be able to start now. Coach Windsor walked into the locker room and told us there was nothing he could say to make us want it, we were going to have to want it on our own and he walked out and didn’t come back. This gave us a chance to talk as a team about how much we wanted to win and extend our season. Something worked because we came out and ended up winning that game in dramatic fashion 23–21 and eventually won districts. I respected that he let us handle the mental side on our own that night. How bad did we want it? Seems like pretty bad and thankfully his hands-off technique that halftime was effective.

Coach Windsor and his family

Family First

It was written all over Coach Windsor the first time I met him that he was the epitome of a family man. The man absolutely and relentlessly loves his wife and kids beyond what is measurable. He was such an excellent role model of the “family first” mentality to me. If I can be half the husband and dad that he is, then I will be a success.

TEAM

From day one, Coach Windsor preached the TEAM mentality that we truly needed. I had and have never been a part of team like the one we had my senior year and that’s thanks in large part to Coach Windsor. We won together, we lost together, we did everything together. Most of us truly enjoyed spending time with one another beyond the field. We broke it down to “TEAM” every day. We never ran out as individual starters before games, which at first I didn’t understand, but it made sense; it was all about team, not individuals. I look back on the way he coached us to be a team and that no individual was bigger than the whole of us and I’m thankful for that.

As I look back, it’s apparent, even through the tougher times, that Coach Windsor had a lasting impact on me and I’m positive so many others as well. He is truly one of a kind and I’m just grateful I was able to have him as a coach and mentor for that year!

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Zach Bruner

Zach Bruner

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I am a passionate about being a dad, husband, and educator.