A good coach can make or break a child’s love of the game.
Most youth coaches are unpaid volunteers who spend countless hours on the sidelines teaching kids how to be better players and teammates. At the end of the season it’s common for parents and players to give their coaches thank you notes and gifts. Jayden Wigginton of Richmond, Virginia knew just what he wanted to say to his coach.
Jayden may only be six years old, but he’s already discovered that a great coach can make all the difference, both on the field and off. His mother Courtney Wigginton says Coach Richard Nelloms, a local dad who volunteers to coach Jayden’s flag football team, has helped her son learn to love the sport more than ever before.
“I’ve known Rich for quite awhile now and seeing him coaching my son has been amazing,” she wrote on Facebook. “It’s hard to come across a coach like him nowadays, but he helped my son fall in love with the game all over again. Jayden adores Rich and truly idolizes him. I can’t say thank you enough for what you’ve done for him this season. You’ll never know how much of an impact you’ve truly made. We love you Rich.”
On the last day of practice Jayden came prepared to tell his coach exactly what all that time and attention had meant to him throughout the season. As Courtney recorded the moment on her cell phone, Jayden gave Coach Rich a mug that said “A good coach can change the game. A great coach can change a life.” On the back side of the mug they’d had “Coach Rich” engraved.
Judging by Coach’s big smile he might have been satisfied with this thoughtful present, but Jayden wasn’t finished quite yet. “Hold on, he’s got a little note he wrote you,” Courtney told Rich. That’s when Jayden pulled out a handwritten note and proceeded to read aloud:
“Dear Coach Richard, you have been the greatest coach of my life. I love you Richard,” the little boy read before becoming overwhelmed by his feelings. Breaking down into tears he tells the coach, “You help me love football again. Thank you for being my favorite coach. Love, Jayden.” Coach Rich pulled that child in for a hug so fast!
The next day Richard woke up from a nap to find out that a video of the tender moment had gone viral. He admitted that even though he “held it together” when Jayden read the note to him, when he watched it later he broke down in tears.
“This was something that I felt so lucky to have an opportunity to do,” he wrote about coaching football. “I was so nervous at first , some of the parents had to tell me to raise my voice so they could hear me. I felt blessed with the chance to be myself & teach my players how to have fun no matter what. It’s a dream of mine to make an impact on as many souls as possible. Thank you Jayden for allowing me to fulfill a dream of mine!!!”
Seasons will come and go, but Jayden will always remember the impact this kind, competent coach made on him as a first grader. Richard is one of those coaches who manages to step in as a pseudo-parental figure who is also a trusted friend and mentor. Great job, Coach Rich!
Grab a tissue and watch the emotional video of Jayden reading his note to Coach Rich at the top, and don’t forget to share.
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