Stories and Making a Difference

It was to be the last regular season game for Coach Wally Cochrane. In his 42 years as head coach at the small rural high school, his record was unprecedented. The school was so small that virtually every male student had to play. That made his coaching record even more remarkable.

A characteristic of Coach Wally’s team was that they spent very little time on the field pregame in warm-ups. What Coach Wally did was to invite a former player back to tell his story. The stories were inspirational and designed to motivate the players into believing they could each make a difference with their play, and this would translate into lessons on how to make a difference in their lives.

The community wanted to honor Coach Wally at half-time, but he refused. That was his nature. He wanted the focus to be on his players and what was hoped to be another undefeated season.

The game finished with another victory and Coach Wally left the field as he did after every other game. When he entered the locker room, he was shocked by how crowded it was. Every captain of every team over his 42 years was there. Each of them was holding on to a bound book in the school’s colors. Inside the book were the stories of every player who were seniors that year.

Over the winter, Coach Wally spent time reading the stories. They were remarkable in their variety. Some were surprising, while others were predictable. All were inspiring. The one common thread in every story was an incident from their high school years where Coach Wally made a difference in their lives. While Coach Wally remembered each of these incidents, the stories still brought tears to his eyes.

Stories bring a human dimension to differences we want to make. They inspire us. It’s hard to make a difference if we can’t describe the changes we want to make as a story. Difference makers need to also be great story tellers.

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“The way we tell our life story is the way we begin to live our life.” – Maureen Murdock (Author)

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