For a period of about 6 years I held the auspicious title of “Soccer Coach” for my daughter’s team. It was a wonderful period of my life and looking back I am sure I learned as much, perhaps more, than the kids did. Since that time, I still find it humorous when the lessons learned as a coach come back, during unrelated events. At the same time I sometimes wonder if I’d view these events differently had I not held the title.
One such event occurred on a hunt for deer and wild hogs in South Carolina (you can read a little more about that in The Carolina Connection). Two of the participants in that hunt were a Father and Son from Pennsylvania: Ted and Luke. Ted struck me as a quiet, humble man and I immediately felt respect for him having traveled so far to spend a week with his son. It didn’t take long to figure out his teenage son Luke was the reason for their trip. He had a gung-ho, “can’t wait to get in the woods” attitude, making it easy to imagine the countless requests his father must have endured before booking.
After lunch on the first day, all of the hunters were back in camp, relaxing after a superb meal when the typical discussion of equipment began. When it was Luke’s turn, he proudly showed his vintage Bear Recurve, carbon arrows (spined 400), and a factory sharpened 125g head. I could not stop myself, I had to ask if he knew the total weight of his arrow and if he’d tested the sharpness of his heads. Luke replied “no, but I’m confident they’ll be fine”. Thats when “Soccer Coach Steve” came to the surface. I heard myself advising Luke on shot placement for a hog, especially shooting an arrow a touch on the light side, with what I knew to be a marginally sharpened head. I then tossed in a few other gems on how he could increase his total arrow weight on future hunts. Ted was listening the whole time.
“Thank you, I’ve tried to instruct him but he doesn’t listen to me.” He said.
“Ahhhh…the Soccer Coach Syndrome!” I chuckled.
I suddenly remembered the most important lesson I’d learned as a Coach: every child on the team will listen to every word of instruction and follow every drill without question or argument, except your own child!
Ted and I shared a grin with each other and everyone began collecting their gear for the evening hunt. I remember spending a good bit of time in the stand that day, considering how I could be a good mentor to Luke without over stepping my bounds, or more importantly, without dampening the young man’s hunting spirit.
Later that night, I’d heard that Luke shot a hog. I was anxious to hear the details and kept my mouth shut, as he told the story. His narration sounded like he’d made a good hit. He remembered distinct details about the shot, behavior of the animal, and the direction of travel as it left. All good things. He had picked up the trail before darkness set in and the blood was not as good as he’d hoped. Ultimately, it was decided to wait until morning to pick up the trail, giving the hog time to expire before pushing it deeper into the swamps. Unfortunately, the next morning didn’t prove much better. Little evidence could be found after several hours of searching by a bevy of hunters who soon realized this hog would not be recovered.
Back at camp, I resumed my discussion with Luke about his arrows. It so happened I’d brought a spare bow with a set of heavy arrows I thought would shoot well from Luke’s recurve. His poundage was a bit lower but they were carbon shafts and the additional thrust of the recurve versus my longbow might just even things out. I offered to let him try a few, and if they worked, sharpen a few of my broadheads for his use that afternoon. Not only did those arrows fly well from his recurve, but after a slight adjustment due to the additional arrow weight, he was shooting them with deadly precision. I eagerly sharpened up three of my 160 grain Magnus Classics (naturally while giving a lesson on sharpening heads by hand) to a “scary sharp” edge and handed them to Luke.
Later that evening Luke would get a shot opportunity at a large doe. His shot was a little high but the heavy arrow penetrated both shoulders and exited. The doe managed to run about 40-50 yards before piling up and Luke experienced his first big game animal with traditional equipment. He was all grins when we found her and that smile didn’t go away the remainder of camp.
I was proud to have played a small part in this young man’s success and I know he learned a valuable lesson. I have since stayed in contact with him on Social Media and he has replaced those “factory sharp” heads with Magnus Classics and I have no doubt he is working on a heavier arrow setup for the 2016 season.