A Neighboring Coach Shares His Thoughts

The article below was shared by Gouverneur Central School Coach Sean Devlin supporting our ongoing efforts to hear how sports impacts a person’s life .

What Sports Means To Me:

Sports. Sports are an integral part of most people’s lives, at least most of the people that I know and associate with. Sports in general incorporate a wide variety of opportunities to compete, ranging from team sports like football and baseball to more individualized sports like bowling and karate and now even eSports. Sports are also enjoyed in a multitude of ways, which can include being a spectator, coach, participant, supporter or any combination of these roles.  

But what do sports mean to me? 

I think people involved in sports describe what it means to them in similar ways, despite having had different personal experiences. For instance, my experiences cause me to believe that sports create life-long friendships and instill a work ethic within us that we might not have otherwise. Sports unleash passion and emotion, help us learn teamwork, and reveal our true character, especially during the highs and lows we experience during competition.

We all have stories of those times in the locker room, of that big win or that disappointing loss. When you see your teammates years later, you still talk about it, no matter what the sport, and it seems like yesterday. That bond that you build with your teammates and coaches, no matter how long it has been since you last saw them, is always there, and the time gap between the past and the present moment disappears.

Sports helped make me who I am today. I can say the same for my family as well, and I would not want it any other way.

A more appropriate question for me however, is : What have sports done for me”?

As a kid growing up in Gouverneur, I tried several different sports, as most kids do. By the time I reached high school, football and basketball were the sports I decided to focus on. This decision would positively affect me more than I knew over the years.

In truth, sports probably saved me, football and basketball in particular. At some point, every kid is dealt a “bad hand” and needs to choose what to do with that hand –  fold and quit or suck it up and wait for the next draw of cards. The next “draw” for me was sports. The positive experiences I had with teammates, the level of excitement and energy athletics offered and the leadership I needed and received from a few great Coaches over the years helped steer me in the direction I eventually realized I needed to go. 

After graduating from SUNY Cortland in December of 1998, I moved back to my Hometown of Gouverneur. A couple of months later, I was offered my first real Coaching position as Varsity Assistant Coach of the Girls Track & Field Team. As a 22 year old young adult, I was thrilled to be thrown into this new perspective of Sports. That single given opportunity would quickly lead to what I now know as a long, happy successful ongoing career. 

Sports have opened up so many doors for me in ways I never have imagined.  Over the years, I have been introduced to a world that I would not have known existed without sports. I have met so many great people and have had so many opportunities because of sports – related  experiences. As a Coach, I have developed friendships with numerous people I never knew previously. The connections and networks sports made possible span from town to town, throughout numerous counties, and even from state to state. Sports allows us to “work” with different people, adults and youth alike, outside of the classroom or school setting, and in a manner that has really allowed me to get to know people on different levels.   

This is the value of sports.

So far in my career, sports have given me the opportunity to coach with and against some of those same great coaches that helped steer me in the right direction in high school. It has all come full circle, as I now coach with several young men and women who also played for me – a unique opportunity that many coaches will surely understand and value.

Being a part of multiple team championships, as an athlete and a coach, has also made possible memorable experiences and taken me places that only sports could have offered. Sports can and do bring a community together, even for a short time. I have lived this reality and it is an unbelievable experience.

Lastly, and probably most importantly, sports can have a positive impact on family. We are a sports family, much like your family may be. We watch sports on TV, go to sporting events with one another, and play sports together. As with your teammates from years ago, sports create special bonds within families and between families that can last forever. Sports have given me a career, a purpose in life, lasting friendships and too many great experiences to mention, but none better than the opportunity to coach my own daughters on the basketball court. It probably means more to me than it does to them at this point, but as every coach says, “it will mean more to them when they get older.” I am beyond grateful for this opportunity. 

All of these wonderful opportunities, experiences and memories were made possible because of sports.  I look forward to seeing what else the world of sports has in store for me, my family, and anyone else who is lucky enough to be, or has been  positively influenced by sports.

Best Wishes!

Coach Sean Devlin

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