The Power of Sports

Phil Avalos, coach phil avalos, anaheim hs football

Today is a travel day. I’m on my way home – SoCal, to be exact. Buying last minute tickets stinks, so I went as cheap as possible – which has turned into long layovers and three plane changes. I’m hanging out with a view of the NYC skyline, at the moment. I’m heading home under less than positive circumstances, to say the least.

My dad – who was already not in good health after a previous heart attack/stroke, is in the ICU and on life support since Sunday morning. There’s a lot that awaits me when I get there.

My dad on Egyptian television

My dad was a football (also coached a few other things – like strength and conditioning – along the way) coach all of my life. Though he coached high school football most of the time, he also coached college football and several semi-pro, international teams (Egypt, Brazil, and Germany). It was his life’s passion and he left an indelible mark on the young men that he coached. In recent days, as I’ve shared updates about my dad, tagging him so family & his former players could see, I’ve received messages and comments like, “Your Dad is a great man that can take a group of boys, mold them into men, and champions on the field.”

I’ve known this about him & the power of sports, my whole life. People can easily misunderstand something that is “just a game” and view it as seemingly insignificant. I guess compared to some things, it probably is. Except when I see and hear about the impact a coach makes on teenagers who didn’t have anyone else believe in them or who simply needed to learn discipline, to believe in themselves, or to learn the value of a team. I’m sure there are many other lessons, but that sums it up.

Beyond visiting my dad’s bedside (early morning hours of Wednesday), this is how I choose to see him. Though I am expecting the worst, based on my conversations with the ICU – including moments ago, I just choose to see him this way.

When we were little, Matthew and I spent a lot of time in the summer, running around Anaheim HS and our autumn was a Friday Night Lights (and later Saturdays at Pomona College) kind of childhood. Life is hard & complicated. What lies ahead is hard & complicated. However many days of my dad’s life remain, I will always see him this way.

His last international coaching gig.

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