It’s easy for fans to become emotionally distant when a former coach moves on to bigger things.
Some fans see it as treasonous, a defection to the other side. Some imagine those coaches immediately, emotionally distanced from Clemson and their former players. After seeing the pictures from Clemson’s graduation, something real, pure and heartwarming was on full display for all to see. If they looked.
Brent Venables flew back to Clemson for his players graduation. It was a special moment in each young man’s life and to have your coach there to share it, had to add to the specialness of the moment. Thinking further, it showed what we’ve all come to know and love about the Clemson culture, the commitment. Not just a commitment of a player to his university but also a commitment of a coach to his former players.
In a fan’s world, some tend to paint things, in their own minds, as either purple and orange or not purple and orange. Those outside that color scheme slip into the “enemy” category. That’s just how reactionary and shortsighted some of us fans can be, as it’s human nature. However, each should just take a step back and watch for the proof that not everyone wearing something of a different color is an enemy. No, actually and purposefully, they are still family.
I suspect, coaches come to know each of their players and families as not just a linebacker, a defensive lineman, or a defensive back, but as men, each builds a bridge that forever stands as a connection between them. They recruited each of them passionately and at some point, they ceased to become just a player. They became family.
Seeing Venables standing in those graduation photos, focuses the emphasis away from the fickleness of sport and onto the bonds of family. I’m not sure, but this might be one of most emotional commitments of all. A lifelong commitment between a coach and his players. It was a moving sight.
Some have boasted throughout this entire tumultuous time of change, it was time to cut the cord with those that chose to leave. I admit, I felt spurned, cast aside by those that left and that was proven in those images, those captured moments in time, to be a ridiculous, selfish reaction. No stroke of a pen to paper, change of colors worn, nor the number of miles between them, can change the relationship between a coach and his players. It never ends and theirs is a lifelong commitment to one another. It’s just another building block of manhood, those of character and integrity.
There is a reason why graduation is called a commencement. This ceremony, this day, marks not just an ending of something temporary, but a beginning of the rest of their lives. For these young players, while it does signify the end of the coach/player relationship, it’s just the beginning of a wonderful, lifelong friendship.
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