The sleepless nights staring at the ceiling.
The concomitant excitement and irritability.
An adverse medical condition you ask? No, it's just pre-season.
Well into my third decade of college coaching it is still a source of some amazement to me that I just can't get entirely used to the array of sensations brought on during pre-season. I had a colleague tell me recently that he, a forty year teaching veteran, still experiences nightmares as the school year approaches. While my personal situation doesn't bring on night terrors it does seem to affect my emotional chemistry in a way that continues to take me by surprise.
This summer, like most others was full of anticipation and wishful imaginings of what could transpire this season if all the myriad pieces that constitute my program fall perfectly into place. Anticipating playing games with a certain style and flourish; a winning season; a league title and a run into the NCAA tournament for good measure. A highly motivated, talented, and injury-free player pool comprised of great athletes and model citizens. To paraphrase Shakespeare, that would be a circumstance "devoutly to be wished." It is of course, the very idea that things could just possibly be perfect that precipitates a coaches anxiety in the first place, and while we hold beautiful ideals in our minds, we know that the college coaching experience, while often good, is typically not close to a model of perfection and thus we wait for the rude realities to show themselves.
Carefree – Problematic;
Win – Lose;
Flourish – Struggle;
Success – Failure
These are some of the swirling possibilities we are prone to imagine as we venture into the unknown of our fall seasons. Being the control freaks many of us inevitably are, we structure, plan, organize, and do everything possible for nine months a year to stack our odds, but sooner or later we have to concede that much of our willing and wanting will ultimately fall outside of our immediate control. As with herding cats, we can get some things under control but it's tough to manage all of it.
So, once we have made predictable all that we can manipulate, we are left with no choice, but to wait and see. To see who plays well; who got better since last year; who will lead; who is healthy and who can possibly, just possibly, make our imaginings a reality.
While we wait we muse; we toss and turn and wonder. We pace, we anticipate, we fear and have no choice, but to acknowledge our human frailty and wait as patiently as we can for the first game to come about to show us what our team is made of and put us out of our anticipatory misery.
A tiresome experience you ask? Not a chance. I wouldn't have it any other way!