The following speech was given to the Downingtown West Football Team on November 22nd, 2019. It was prior to the District 1 Semi-Final playoff game.
“Everybody in here has a role, and whatever your role is we need you to play it tonight. What’s my role? I’m the get back coach. I make sure that we stay behind the line and don’t get a sideline penalty during the game.
Is it the most important role to have? No! But, am I going to be the best goddamn get back coach in the world tonight? You’re damn right! Why? Because that’s my role!
So whatever your role is tonight, be it. If you’re the big-time quarterback, be the big-time quarterback! If you’re the Division I recruited defensive end, be a D I defensive end!
If you don’t play and you’re the hype man, be the best damn hype man in the world! If you only play special teams, be the special teams specialist!
Play your role tonight!
If we don’t play our roles, we aren’t a team, we’re just a bunch of individuals. We are separate like the fingers of an open hand. However, if everyone plays their role tonight we are a team and a team is like a fist!
Now, you can smack someone with an open hand but you ain’t going to do much damage. But if you hit someone with a fist! We all know you can knock their ass out!
Let’s be a team and go knock Haverford out!”
A team can be defined as a group of individuals working toward a common goal. It’s always been easy for me to see this in sports. However, with age, I am seeing the importance of embracing the roles I play in the non-sports teams as well.
As the world and my country face a pandemic, I have to play my role on Team Human. Allyn’s role isn’t to come up with a vaccine, battle on the front lines with doctors and nurses, or to decide political responses. In the game against COVID-19, my role is two-fold.
The first is to help flatten the curve. Yes, it sucks to be told to “Stay at Home”. It sucks that everything is closed. I could be selfish and continue to live my life as usual but that would be ignoring the role I’ve been called on to play. The goal of “Social Distancing” is to reduce the drastic spike in cases. By limiting the spike, the healthcare industry has a better chance of offering care to those who will catch it. My role here isn’t the most glamorous and I won’t be recognized for it, but it’s the role I need to play.
The second role is to continue to provide educational opportunities for my students. Schools have been shut-down, and millions of students and parents were left wondering what was going to happen. Teachers around the nation were given a new role and asked to provide cyberlearning. It is something I have never done before and I find myself spending more time than usual creating and researching materials for this new learning model. It would be easy to complain about the work or feel overwhelmed with this new role, but I am embracing what I can do to help the team win.
In our lives, we are all members of different teams and play different roles on those teams. It could be a family team, a team of friends, a workplace team, a relationship, or religious team to name a few. Your role can always change as your team works towards different goals, but one thing will never change. If everyone doesn’t play their role your team won’t have success.
As I “Stay at Home”, I have watched several games from the past football season and can say that the 2019 Downingtown West Football Team was a team. Everyone embraced their role and it’s exactly why they will go down in history as the “Best West Ever”. It’s exactly why they were the District I Champions. It’s exactly why they achieved so many of their goals. I am fortunate to say I was a part of that team and looking forward to continuing to play my role in all the winning teams in my life.