If you asked a group of young men to name an individual who had a profound effect on their life, I would suspect that many would come up with the name of a coach or teacher. That is without a doubt the case with me. Besides my family, that person would be my high school football coach, Fred Merrell.
Coach Merrell was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame this past week … he was inducted into the Missouri High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1993.
I had the opportunity to visit with Coach Merrell at a reception honoring his award this weekend. In true Fred Merrell, self deprecating fashion, the first words out of his mouth after saying thanks for coming were, “I’m not sure why they picked me… I never won a state championship”.
I can tell you that there is no more deserving man to be honored by this selection than Coach Merrell. I had the unique opportunity to not only play for Merrell at Blue Springs High School for three years, but also coach with him for three years fresh out of college.
If you visit with anyone about Coach Merrell, the words “He is one of the finest men I have ever known” (or something similar) will enter the conversation. I know of NO ONE who thinks any differently.
Every day that I coach and teach, I think about Coach Merrell. Most of the good procedures and practices that I still employ can be traced back to him… from film study, to breaking down an opposing offense, to how to respectfully treat young men.
The main reason that I made my decision to attend William Jewell College and play football was because that is where Coach Merrell played.
I consider myself very fortunate to have played football for a coach like Fred Merrell, and doubly so to have been able to coach with him.
The reception this weekend held another pleasant surprise for me. Tom McSparren, a History teacher at Blue Springs High School, was in attendance. I had Mr. McSparren for several classes…Civil War, Ethnic Heritage, and sat with rapt attention in various others of his classes during my study hall. Being in Mr. McSparren’s classes made me want to study and teach History… which I did!
I am lucky. In the course of 30 minutes this weekend, I was able to visit with the man who I wanted to coach like (Fred Merrell) and the teacher I wanted to teach like (Tom McSparren)…and I was able to share with them both how important they have been in my life.
You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!
Jeff Floyd – firstname.lastname@example.org