I’m someone who avoids drama entirely and will actively get away from it. If it doesn’t affect me in any way and doesn’t add more stress to my life, I will let be.
However, recently I heard that Coach Joe Grant was asked to step down as Head Football Coach for North Miami High School. This was in response to the less than stellar win-loss record these past few seasons, which from an outsider’s perspective makes a lot of sense. Why continue to hire a coach who has more losses than wins under his belt? However, I had the privilege of spending a couple of days with him earlier this year and got to know him more or less than the people who are reading this.
North Miami isn’t known to have the “cream of the crop “when it comes to having superior athletes. I should know, I came out of that school. The school is in the middle of a cornfield and anyone interested in trying out a sport will be playing in it. No tryouts. No nothing. The Warriors will take what they can get.
Every now and then, North Miami will get a superior class of athletes and will dominate a season. In my sophomore year, our football team became Sectional Champs. Even in the year before, the class had a great season. But when those seniors graduated the next year and our class took over, we were lucky to have two wins in our season.
I say that because that’s something the administration of North Miami isn’t taking into consideration. North Miami has little to none in terms of “scholarship athletes.” What they fail to see is who the coach is and what impact is he having on the players.
Earlier this year, I was planning to do a photo story of Joe Grant and who he is as a person. I was hoping to turn it into a yearlong project, where I would follow from track and field season to the football season. But, life had other plans and now I’m working in Maryland. But in that time of spending with Joe Grant as he was coaching track and field, I got a great sense of who he is as a person.
Joe is constantly engaged and takes little time for himself at work. Whether it he’s teaching a government class or leading in after-school weights sessions, he doesn’t slow down. But know, the key phrase here is “little time for himself.”
Almost every minute, I saw Joe Grant interacting with a student/player when he was at work. He has something to give to them. Something to teach them. He allows players to grow and
excel in their field, getting in the way of their growth because he trusts them to do what they can/will do. But to those who are lagging or struggling to grasp a concept, Joe Grant does what he does best: coach.
He wants them to become the best version of themselves. If that means spending minutes on end to help them with a form on lifting, he will gladly give an hour to make sure they perfected. Hell, he will give a full day to them, if it means they can become a better version of themselves.
That’s reflected in the weight room, where he has a whiteboard for students to mark down their new personal best for whatever lifting exercise they did. Once they made a new personal best, he allows them to ring the bell, letting everyone know they made a new milestone. Some may call it a way of competition, but I see it as a way of boosting a kid’s self-confidence and encouraging them to do better. That kind of mentality does wonders for an individual and as someone who struggles with self-confidence, I’m speaking this from my own experience. Giving them an environment that encourages them to grow and become better than they were yesterday is incredible.
But what about his coaching? What is he like when he coaches a sport?
While I can’t speak much of his football coaching abilities, but I can vouch for him in track and field. Joe Grant is someone who wants to make sure that every one of his players knows he cares about him. I saw him roaming from the runners to the throwers in a single practice, even though each team had its own coach with them. He wants to see how they’re doing and make sure they’re being coached right.
He’s not only managing the players of the team but the other coaches as well. If any of the coaches are slacking off or having a difficult time in reaching one of their players, Joe will gladly step in. He cares that much for his players, no matter where they sit on the team. Even if it means they won’t be able to play an actual event in track or start on the football team. He wants them to be the best version of themselves.
Joe Grant wasn’t blessed with a class of stellar athletes. He got kids who wanted to play sports and be active, and that was enough for him to coach them. He didn’t care if they were going to be the next Tom Brady or Michael Jordan of the world; he cared that they wanted to play.
Isn’t that enough?
Apparently, the administration doesn’t care all that much about the students who want to play and grow. Their primary concern is what they can see in statistics. Unfortunately, Joe Grant doesn’t have those on his side, which appears to be the deciding factor in his coaching career at North Miami.
At the end of the season, it doesn’t matter how many wins or losses you have; what matters is how much of a difference you make with your players.