Jeremy Côté

The Glue

I was almost seventeen, not an arts and crafts kind of guy, and wasn’t looking to repair anything. So you can imagine my surprise when I unwrapped a bottle of glue as a gift.

This also wasn’t from some kind but clueless family member; it was from my two soccer coaches at the end of the season. In fact, they had gotten a gift for each of my teammates, and we were opening them one by one.

Though my expression likely betrayed my puzzlement, I do have manners. What I probably did was begin making a fool of myself by inspecting the glue like it was a rare and valuable treasure. Thankfully, my coaches took pity on me and presented me their actual gift:

“We got you glue because you hold the team together.”

A decade later, I still remember the feeling of my coaches really seeing me. I wasn’t great at soccer, I was just an athlete who could run a ton. But my coaches hadn’t missed me communicating on the field, nor the effort I gave each time I was on the field. They hadn’t missed how I cared about leading my team. They saw.

My coaches could have just congratulated us on the season and that would have been fine. It would have been expected. Instead, they went further. They may have bought us physical gifts, but what they really gave us was the gift of noticing.

You can’t buy what my coaches gave me. It requires time, care, and investment in your players to even gather the raw materials to create this gift. As a coach now, they are the archetype I choose to follow.

The half-life of the memories of what a coach does on the playing field may be short, but the half-life of such a gift can endure for years. It has for me.

Thank you Mohammad Khan, Dylan Kurt, and Josh Knox for feedback on this essay.