This summer has flown by for my family as I’m sure it has for yours. We look forward to moving into our new home and starting classes in our new school all in the same week. My children can't wait to be Raiders, which is evident by the Randolph apparel they've worn every day since they arrived in Huntsville.
Randolph Athletics doesn’t slowdown in the summer. I’ve enjoyed getting to know our coaches and student-athletes while watching them work each day, whether outside in the heat, working out with Coach Gaunt in the weight room or on the court in the gym. I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting some great parents and working on the creation of the first Randolph Community Network Athletic Committee.
A highlight of my summer was attending the AHSAA Summer Conference in Montgomery where Randolph was visible all week. I attended the volleyball, boys soccer and girls soccer All-Star games where our Raider participants went undefeated. I saw Randolph receive its third Sportsmanship award. I attended the Awards Banquet where Randolph coaches Alex Tomlinson and Ken Hudson were honored for their respective state championship seasons. The banquet culminated with Randolph's very own Sue Marshall receiving the "Making a Difference" Award for all her years of dedication to developing student-athletes into young adults.
The speaker for the Awards Banquet was St. Paul's Cross Country and Track Coach Jim Tate. Coach Tate, an NFHS National Sports Hall of Fame inductee, started coaching in 1972 after being a fighter pilot in the Vietnam War. Coach Tate won his 98th and 99th state titles this past year, extending his record for the most state titles earned by any head coach in the history of Alabama.
Coach Tate reflected on the changes and the constants he has seen since 1972. Mostly the changes were in the use of technology, the growth in communication channels, and the increased amount of administrative work.
Along these lines, Randolph Athletics has some exciting new changes coming this school year:
Canvas: Wins can make for a good season, but nothing allows a season to be smoother than good communication. The School's new learning management system, Canvas, is going to enhance the communication you receive from your child’s coach on a consistent basis. (From August Weekly Communication Reports (WCRs) will commence when school begins. Each weekend, you will receive an updated calendar of events from your coach for the following week along with any special details that will allow you to be adequately prepared.
Raider Report: The Athletics Office will send out an athletics report every 3-4 weeks highlighting what has taken place, what is coming up, and any special events or dates to know about.
RandolphAthletics.net: Randolph Athletics will soon have a new online home where each athletic program will have its own dynamic public site accessible through the Randolph website. The new pages will offer numerous types of information, links with social media and multi-media options. The pages will feature Randolph alumni who went on to play in college and the championship history of Randolph Athletics.
For families of current athletes, almost all eligibility paperwork will be accessible and submissable online using electronic signatures.
Another great feature will be how quickly our coaches can update scores right after the game on the site, through social media and even communicate with numerous sports journalists with the touch of a button on their smartphone. The new site will offer Randolph Athletics greater visibility in the wider community.
Coach Tate most enjoyed talking about the timeless aspects of athletics: the value of athletics to children, and the importance of the coach’s role in developing character and sportsmanship.
A glance at the sports headlines in the past year indicates the challenges to the simple statement that "sports builds character." Sports journalists have spent the last year covering domestic violence, sexual assault, racism, child abuse, and drug abuse, while the goodness associated with sports is sidelined.
The truth is that sports only builds character if the coach teaches and models character and encourages its development.
Randolph coaches already do a strong job in this area, and I look forward to putting even more emphasis on the following traits:
Commitment: Encouraging our student-athletes to choose commitment over convenience.
Accountability: Instilling accountability, banishing entitlement.
Responsibility: Our student-athletes are given a lot of autonomy. Our job as coaches, teachers and parents is to balance the amount of autonomy with an equal amount of responsibility. The privilege of playing sports comes with an equal responsibility to academics, family, household chores and more.
Discipline: One of the biggest challenges of a coach is to develop discipline. For younger athletes this means respecting the rules and learning to win and lose with grace. From the age of 11-12 years old this should include accepting consequences and developing the self-control and commitment it takes to excel.
Sacrifice: This is the key ingredient to reaching our full potential. Sacrifice is the hardest of all to teach, not just for the child, but also the parent. Success doesn't come without sacrifice, and we as coaches and parents have a great platform to teach this together.
Years ago a coach told me the biggest test of character in a person's life is the four years after he or she graduates from high school – in other words, college.
That observation motivates me every day. I see it as our job in athletics to love, serve and develop your children mentally, physically, socially and emotionally so they are best prepared for the years when they begin to become authentic young adults. I look forward to partnering with our coaches, teachers and parents to make this year a great year at Randolph. I enjoyed meeting many of you at our Meet and Greet event last week, and I look forward to navigating the changes and constants of the coming year.