The Coach with the Shiniest Shoes-Tribute to Dad


They call him “Coach”, and when it comes to coaching, he’s certainly one of the best and most respected in Wisconsin basketball history.  Making significant contributions through his playing and coaching career, his greatest thrill came with his 1971 State Basketball Championship victory.  He coached me when I played in high school.  He did something even greater.  He coached me and taught me about life.  You see, this coach is my Dad.

I remember when I was a little guy, and we would wrestle around on the living room floor.  He was so big and strong; I know now that he could have brushed me away with one sweep of his arm, but his laugh still echoes in my mind as I would pin him the floor.  We did lots of fun things together, and he was constantly teaching: how to put a worm on a hook; how to hook a minnow through the back so it would stay alive; how to find the rock piles on the bottom where the big walleye would be.  He’d say, “If I were a walleye, that’s where I’d be!” And we’d catch fish.  He took me countless times to the beautiful waters of Canada in search of lunker fish.  We’d always fish “perch pocket” and “bass bay”.  I remember the time we found a little bay and made two portages over beaver dams to find a secluded lake.  We were sure that we our exploration has discovered a new lake, until we spotted two kids sitting on a rock eating crackers.  But that didn’t matter because I was with my dad.  And we laughed.

Another time we got caught in a thunderstorm out on the lake.  Dad rowed us back to camp in the cold, pouring rain as we huddled under his Marine Corps jacket.  We didn’t catch any fish that day, but it didn’t matter because we were with Dad.  He taught me the security of his arms.  He made it fun to get soaked to the skin and return to the camper and snuggle in our warm sleeping bags, eating bags of Fritos and Three Musketeer bars.

It wasn’t all chips and candy bars though.  He taught me early on the value of integrity and the importance of discipline.  I remember the spanking I got for stealing the slingshot from Rice Drugs.  Thanks for making me take it back and confess to Mr. Rice.  I learned a great lesson that day.

Coach taught me basketball.  He taught me how to shoot a jump shot.  Keep the elbow in, wrist bent, ball on the fingertips, snap, arch, follow-through; never let a shot fall short!  He built a little basket to teach me to develop “the touch”.  I never lost it, Dad, in case you were wondering.

I was the assistant in running his basketball camps.  Dad let me run all the ball handling and dribbling drills.  Thanks for believing in me.  It helped me develop in basketball and in life.  He would always encourage me the nights I had a bad game:  “The sun always comes up in the morning!” And it always did.  He showed me he cared for my feelings and that life was more than basketball.

Being at home with Dad was always a secure feeling.  His family was important to him.  If there was a game or a basketball clinic, he’d bring me with him.  In his greatest moment of winning the State Championship, I was “coaching” right beside him on the bench.  What I liked best though was how he loved my Mom.  He was faithful to her and was not afraid to how his affection.  He would sneak up behind her in the kitchen, wrap her in his arms and plant some kisses on her neck.  Mom giggled when they snuggled like that, and I know she liked it.  It made me feel good inside.  When asked to come out of retirement to coach the girls’ basketball team, New Auburn must have been surprised to land such a prize coach.  Dad only agreed if Mom could be the assistant coach.  I know he loved her.

He was a loyal man.  He was a Marine sergeant and went to fight for his country in the Korean War.  I know he got a Purple Heart there, but he is not the one to talk about that stuff.  He never talked much about that and was more concerned about his friends that didn’t make it out of there.  I am grateful that God spared him so he could return and be my Dad.

Now I’m married and have kids of my own.  I am still learning from my Dad.  I never realized until recently when I shared my greatest failures with him, that he has the heart of God-merciful, welcoming, accepting in spite of failure.  He has always been like that.  I’ve learned why you don’t just write a check for broken windows.  I learned why you built the pitching mound and the batting bag in your backyard; why you took me on countless fishing trips, and why you did the many other things that a dad does with his son.  But what I don’t understand is how you did it; how you did it when you never had a dad to play H-O-R-S-E with you.  You never had someone to play catch with, or take you fishing, or teach you how to bait a hook.  There was never the role model to teach you how to be a dad.  I may never understand the how, but I sure know the why.  It was because you loved me with a special love that a dad has for his son.

When you were getting dressed for basketball games, you always told me, “The coach with the shiniest shoes always wins.” If that is true of dads also, then you definitely have the shiniest shoes in my book.

You are a winner, Dad.  Thanks for all you’ve done for me, Coach.  I love you.

What do you remember about your dad?

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About Steve Morgan

I work in Global Leadership Development with Cru with my wife, Terry. We have been married 30 years and have 4 grown children. We have a Masters in Global Leadership together through Azusa Pacific University. I generally write about 5 “L’s: Living Well, Loving Deeply, Learning Continuously, Leading Courageously and Leaving a Legacy. I occasionally write about Laughing Loudly. Subscribe on the right side to receive an email whenever there is a new post. I invite you to leave your comments so we can dialogue on the various topics and learn from each other. If you are new to the site, you might start with looking at some of the top posts or doing a search on the right side bar for one of the 5 “L’s” that interest you. Or you can view the blog archives for topics. Photo Credit: sarahjoellephotography.com
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16 Responses to The Coach with the Shiniest Shoes-Tribute to Dad

  1. Tom Bolton says:

    Mr. Morgan, I’m glad I found your blog today. Your Dad was my coach for Cross Country in 1970, and he was my teacher for several years. I was never a very good athlete, but I loved sports in High School and loved the teams I played with–in large part because of his example. I have often thought about two important lessons I learned from Coach Morgan: Never stop learning and working hard (he was always proad of the Honor Roll students on his teams); treat each individual with respect (he always was respectful to me–even when he was focusing on upcoming basketball games). Your dad and Coach Sam Mylin taught me a lot of lessons that I shared with my sons and with my scouts and lots of youth group students over the years. Most of the lessons weren’t about sports so much as athey were about living with integrity. It was great to meet you here too.

    • Steve Morgan says:

      Hey Tom,

      You know, I remember you. I remember running x-country with you. You never gave up. So glad you found my blog. I have kept in touch with Mr Mylin. When I was in High School, he planted some seeds of faith in my life through his helping start FCA at Parker. I saw him last month at my mom’s memorial service. If you remember, please pray for dad. He is missing mom. They were married over 55 years. I wrote a tribute for her also and a blog on kindling love in marriage about mom and dad. I see from your blog that you are a follower of Christ. Me too, since coming to know Christ in college. Thanks so much for visiting the blog. I hope we can keep in touch after reconnecting after all these years. By the way, how did you find my blog?
      Steve

  2. Tom Bolton says:

    Hi Steve. I found your blog when I did a google search for Coach Bob Morgan. I was just looking up some names from the past this week. I will be praying for your dad.

  3. Tom Bolton says:

    Reblogged this on Hopeful and commented:
    A man may find that his influence is much deeper and longer than he realizes. Steve Morgan wrote this insightful blog about his dad. Couch Bob Morgan, Steve’s dad, was also my coach 42 years ago.

  4. karenburroughs2013 says:

    Steve,
    Through your memories I see a man who made so many good choices and left a heritage of strong arms and deep love. That’s a treasure!
    Karen

  5. Nikki Jefferson says:

    Mr. Steve, what a wonderful tribute to your dad. I know God used him to impact your lives and many others. I know you will miss him, but someday you will meet again. Thanks for sharing your tribute of a fine Marine, great Coach and incredible Father. May God wrap his consoling arms tightly around you and your family during this time in your lives.God bless you & your family.

  6. Samantha Lucas says:

    I’m sorry for your loss Steve. But I rejoice for your father and know there is peace that he is no longer suffering or missing your mom.. I am thankful for their legacy and those many lessons that live on in you and the legacy you will leave..I know many lives throughout the world will be positively affected for the Lord because of the example that was given to you. Praying for comfort for your family in this time.

  7. Mike Adamson says:

    Nice job Steve. A great tribute and great gift to your dad. He would have loved this.

    • Steve Morgan says:

      Thanks Mike. I actually wrote it some time ago and was able to read it to him. It hangs in a frame in his room. I also did one for my mom many years ago also. Dennis and Barbara Rainey’s book, The Tribute was a great inspiration and help for Terry and me to write the tributes. Thanks for your kind words, Mike.

  8. Ron Wiley says:

    Steve,
    I’m grateful that you wrote this tribute long before your dad’s passing! We don’t always get that privilege, and you’ve motivated me to be sure to let both of my parents know all that they’ve meant to me while I still can. We know that Father’s grace is flowing to you as you all grieve, and pray that you will be experiencing His Spirit’s comfort in your grief.

    • Steve Morgan says:

      Yes, I am glad I did it a while ago. It was a very healing process for me and my relationship with my dad. I certainly could not write it now being so tired and in a fog. The book, The Tribute by Dennis and Barbara Rainey was very helpful for me in writing this. Thanks for your friendship and encouraging words.

  9. LAMarcom says:

    What do I remember about my dad (RIP) ?
    He never came to see my play linebacker.
    That is what I remember.
    Oh! He was a town doc.
    So, I told him one day,
    I said, “Hey Dad!” (talking about some football injury). I said, “Hey Dad! it hurts when I do this.” moving my arm about.
    He said, “Well, then don’t do that.”
    “Thanks Dad.” I said and went on.

    Great Post, by the way, but don’t do that.

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