Month: January 2016

Catching Up with Q

IMG_03141

Qamar Lewis was born into a broken home. His “sperm donor” was in jail by the time he was born and they didn’t meet until after he graduated high school. The meeting was just like the few that followed it…an awkward conversation and an invitation to “party” turned down. His mother was better…she didn’t go to jail until he reached middle school. She has been out, they live together and the mere proximity of being there has allowed a relationship to grow. He seems happy about that, and maybe its important to him as the Grandmother that raised him passed away a few years ago.

Qamar was a talented athlete, but bad grades, a stubborn attitude and a late high school diagnosis of epilepsy conspired to make sure his talents never made it out of Oviedo. While most of his classmates are a semester or less from graduating college, he is little more than a semester into the process. His stubborn streak may be diminished, but it damn sure isn’t extinguished. He just spent three months without a job because he couldn’t take the time to find a new one before he left the old one.

This may sound like a story of pre-destined failure, but it’s not. It is about humility, generosity, maturity and curiosity. It is about the winding road of life and a young man’s desire to make it matter. It is about my friend.

IMG_47731

I have coached sports since I was in high school, and one of the greatest pleasures I have known is when the player/ coach relationship matures into genuine friendship. Qamar asked me if, when I was coaching him, I ever foresaw us being friends. The truth is that I hoped that it would happen. If I coach with honesty, integrity and compassion, and the player plays the same way, we will have earned each others respect and trust. Friendship requires no stronger foundation.

Qamar is an assistant coach for his alma mater, Oviedo High School. He wears the school’s orange and black colors as comfortably as his skin. It has been a deeply personal experience as he has come face to face with players abundant in his shortcomings which has opened his eyes to the opportunities he lost. It has inspired him to coach beyond the field and mentor the young men in his care to value the opportunity before them and to extend the values of sport to the life beyond it.

He has adopted the quote, “Grow through what you go through” as a personal mantra. He has gone through a lot and it has made him the man he is today. He doesn’t smoke, drink or party. He let himself become difficult to coach and it hurt him, so he pushes for ways to reach the players that were most like him. He has seen black and white players coached differently, so he coaches them all the same. He knows that he must coach from his heart and stay true to who he is, but he is humble and curious enough to study other coaches to see what they do and how their players respond.

He has learned that coaching is not about sports, wins or losses. It is about relationships, life and the unrelenting push you give your players then friends to make the most out of it.

IMG_08561