Driving The Bus
Any good head coach will tell you, any success you have is most likely due to the athletes and your support staff. The athletes are the ones doing the training and are out there competing. Good assistant coaches make all the difference because they are hands on with the athletes on a day-to-day basis. Behind the scenes you also have the trainer, strength and conditioning coach, and a host of other vital people who comprise a track & field program. This past season the Sacred Heart Cathedral track & field team had one other key player who contributed to our success – one of our bus drivers, Patrick Scott.
We first met Patrick last spring when he drove the team to the Central Coast Section (CCS) Finals in Gilroy, and then waited patiently in the parking lot at Applebee’s while the team shaved my head to celebrate our three state meet qualifiers. During the fall cross country season we often had Patrick again, and I requested him specifically for our two overnights, to the Mt. Sac Invitational and the state meet in Fresno. He was always laid back and flexible about things. The kids liked him and he genuinely showed an interest in getting to know them. One time when we pulled into a shopping center for lunch, Patrick got on the PA system and told the kids where all the “hot spots” were – “In ‘n’ Out is in this section, cross the street to the right to get to McDonald’s, cross the street to the left to go to Starbuck’s.” It was awesome. While we were at the meet, Patrick had been scouting the area to help us quickly find the food of our choice right after the meet.
This track & field season, week after week, meet after meet, when I walked up Gough Street to our bus, there was Patrick sitting in the driver’s seat. An avid sports fan, Patrick admitted to not knowing too much about track & field. But at most meets he would come in and watch and cheer. He got to know the kids and what events they did. One afternoon, it warmed my heart when I saw Patrick giving fist bumps to the kids as they boarded the bus. Another time when we coaches got our wires crossed and we only had one coach (me) for two buses, we had no choice but to send the kids on the bus with Patrick with no coach. When we got back from the meet, Patrick sent me a text message reporting that the kids had behaved superbly and that they left the bus extra clean. I was proud of our kids that day, but also it reinforced the idea that since Patrick was so polite to them, they just naturally reciprocated. Almost every kid thanks Patrick by name for driving us when they get off the bus back at school.
Halfway through this season I was having problems coordinating my ride home after meets. My wife was picking up our car at the end of her work day and going home. This season I had no assistant coach living near me to give me a ride. On a lark, I asked Patrick if he was going back to the Coach USA yard after dropping us off, and if he was, could I get a ride there. The Coach USA yard off of Evans Street is an easy three minute drive for my wife to pick me up, as opposed to a thirty minute drive (fifteen each way) if she had to come to school to get me. A ride with Patrick to Evans Street became our weekly ritual. Patrick would comment on some of the things he saw at the meet and I could explain some of the nuances of track & field to him.
As if this wasn’t enough, when one of the kids left her laptop on the bus, I called Patrick. Typically a forgotten item like that is placed in the Coach USA office and the kid and their parents have to go retrieve it during business hours the next day. Even though it was 9:30 P.M., Patrick went back to the bus to retrieve the laptop. He called me saying he had it. I had walked to dinner so I didn’t have my car with me and couldn’t go get it from him. Patrick’s solution? He asked for directions to where I was having dinner and he drove the laptop to me.
Because of this terrific relationship that our team has with our bus driver, I look forward to opportunities to buy Patrick a meal when we’re on the road or invite him to our end of year banquet. I think he’s become a real track & field fan, too. Although we probably won’t be using a bus for the CCS meet this year, Patrick has already indicated that he’s kind of hooked on our team now and wants to see us through to end. He’s texted me after CCS Trials, asking “How’d we do today?” and I know he’s trying to take the day off and driving himself down to Gilroy to cheer us on at the CCS Finals.
Now that’s a bus driver that’s part of the team!