In much the same way that songs from our youth stay with us many years later, it seems that lessons from coaches and teachers have a way of sticking with us decades later. I’m reminded of the coach who was big on hydration, “Drink a lot of water, even if you’re not thirsty.” I hear his voice as I refill my water bottle each day.
During recent weeks I’ve been thinking about another coach’s oft-used closing line and a different reminder. After almost every game, whatever the result and wherever we were playing, this coach would always finish with, “Hang together. Look out for each other.” At the time I didn’t think a lot about it. We spent a lot of time as a team and it seemed that just by virtue of our schedule we’d be ‘hanging together’ quite a bit. Whether I noticed it at the time or not, this coach was reinforcing a hugely important lesson. Being part of a team is more than just being physically present with your teammates or what takes place on the ice. This coach was reminding us that at the rink or away from it, good teammates stick together and do all they can to take care of one another. The timing of this reminder was important. It always came after a game and sometimes before a break from hockey. He was reinforcing to us that being a good teammate doesn’t end when we leave the rink or when the game ends. Being a good teammate means looking out for each other always.