The Small Rant
Sometimes silence is more effective than harsh words.
The ninth grade wrestling team had been roundly defeated 49-3. The sole winner was a boy who would eventually become runner-up State champion in his weight class. As the coach climbed aboard the bus to return home, the wrestlers were eating and having a merry time, completely forgetting about what happened in the opposing school’s gym less than 40 minutes before.
The coach faced the back of the bus and looked around at his team. The bus got quiet.
“You eat junk, you look like junk,” Coach Newhart shouted.
That was it.
No 20-minute lecture on how badly the team was defeated.
No quotes from great winners on how losing makes you better.
No, just a 7-word diet lecture.
The extra push ups, sprints, and workout would come at the next practice.
Tim Dolton was in the middle of a bite of his sub when the coach made the remark. He had saved the sandwich until after the event because he was a half-pound over at weigh in. He slowly chewed his sandwich, not wanting to draw attention to himself at the moment.
Coach Newhart sat down and the bus set out for home.
No one on the bus knew what to do. Dolton, still chewing his sub, looked around at his teammates. They were all stymied, not that they lost so badly, but that they couldn’t continue yukking it up for the 35-minute ride home.
Tim swallowed the last of his stub, stood, and said, “We’re sorry, Coach.”
What else could he or any of his teammates say?
Then, in a chorus of voices, the other teammates expressed the same sentiment. Coach Newhart never turned around, never said another word the entire ride home, never acknowledged that he even heard his team.
When the bus arrived at the school, parents were waiting for their sons in the parking lot. The coach got off and went into the school, presumably into the locker room where his office was.
Tim told his dad what happened, and Mr. Dolton smiled.
“Why are you smiling, Dad?”
“Sounds like your coach put the fear in you boys and he only had to say a few words. You guys will be worried all night tonight and throughout the day tomorrow. When he does say something, he’ll be calm and composed. His silence,
it’ll have the same effect as blowing up. Oh, he’s upset all right, but he’s not letting you in on it.”
Tim thought about his father’s words.
“Think about it, Tim. If you were him, what would you say if you stepped on the bus after being defeated so badly? Would you have wanted him to yell, to chew you out and point out individual mistakes in front of your team? No, he’s just letting you baste in your own fears. Just curious, Tim, does he teach any classes apart from coaching?”
“Yeah, he’s our Psychology teacher. Only one in the school.”
“I see,” his Dad said. “Brilliant, just brilliant.”
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