Where’s Lombardi When You Need Him?

When it comes to college planning, it feels like being on a see-saw, with emotions and plans and advice bringing you up and down.  My son is going into his junior year of high school and “this is the year.”

Is it really the year?  Maybe so.  But it feels like this is so big that nothing will compare after this.  If history proves anything, this is just another step along the way, and when this step is done, another will be waiting on the other side.  And we’ll look back on this as easy compared to what comes next…

In any case, we have been going back and forth, up and down, on how to plan and prep for college.  We think it is all on our shoulders and it stresses us parents out.  Then a psychologist tells us it is really on the student to get themselves into college.  Whew, that is a relief!

Recently though, as the rubber comes closer to meeting the road, and after 3 weeks of commuting into the city with my son, I realize there is more of a partnership that needs to happen to accomplish the goal of crossing the college line.  Putting it all on him seems like reinventing the wheel, especially when there are many many resources and options.  Finding and discussing these options cannot be just on him, especially since they are expensive and will take some committment from us parents too.

We parents have a role to make sure this high school and college prep game keeps going through all four quarters. (Wait a minute!  I wish I had thought of the football four quarters analogy years ago!). For him we are at halftime, and unfortunately our team is down by a big margin.  If we keep playing like we are playing, then we’ll certainly be crushed.

What do all the great coaches say?  Stick with the fundamentals.  By doing so, opportunities will open.  Keep your eye on the ball.  Block, tackle, keep driving even if someone is trying to pull you down.  Keep the man you are covering in front of you.  Etc., etc.

So if we are our kids’ coaches, then we all win the game and lose the game.  Our fundamentals are to keep them on track.  And when we see the kids take their eye off the ball, we do what is necessary to stop that behavior and encourage them, remind them of the right behavior and talk through immediate tactics and plans for the situation at hand.

Since we are down at halftime, do we go out and throw the Hail Mary pass?  Are we that desperate?  I don’t think so.  There is too much risk in that.  Do we let things go on as they are and not say anything in the locker room?  We might as well give up.  No, now is the time for intensity and execution.  Focus on the fundamentals and execute with precision.  Remind them that the time is now, and that we won’t get another chance to win this game.  Leave it all on the field.  Put 100% effort and guts into executing this game.  And in doing so give yourselves the opportunities for victory.

Of course plans and plays are not made on the fly at game time.  In order to execute with precision, we need to practice these plays over and over.  And we need to scout the competition, so we know their strengths and weaknesses and how best to battle them.  And we bring on assistant coaches to instruct in key areas.

As the preseason is here, we now have a chance to scout, and plan, and practice, so that when game time comes, we are ready to execute.  We should also practice the intensity so that we aren’t thrown off by our emotions and nerves in the game.

The analogy of a game is so great.  And we have lots of entertaining examples of execution strategies, played out all over the TV and in stadiums around the world.  Taking on our roles of coaches and players, being on the field together, planning, practicing and executing, will achieve victory and in the process earn the glory of a valient effort.

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