Saturday, November 29, 2003
Having lived in Steamboat for 30 years, it is my privilege to be able to comment on the career of Mark Drake with a broad perspective as it relates to my son and daughter.
It is rare that one man stays in one school district teaching one subject and coaching one sport for so long. This requires, without question, intelligence, humility, perseverance, commitment and above all, pure passion for children.
These are key components to a successful 35 years, no matter what, when, who or where.
After all, it is within school walls that we learn every kind of lesson there is to be learned. These hallowed halls can teach tolerance and respect, kindness and goodness to our children, but first we have to respect seasoned teachers and coaches enough to allow them to demand big things and expect the most from our children without reservations.
Such teachers will do the right thing, but they also continue to learn and make mistakes along the way. No doubt every teacher has done something they would change, perhaps making that teacher even better.
Coach Drake is there for children: He listens, advises and even admonishes when they are out of line. He helps them to stay on the right path and demands that they do the right thing. Many children have parents actively involved in their lives. Many don't. It takes teachers to help raise children. Teachers who teach at "arm's length" or with a degree of fear become ineffective.
Drake has contributed without fear of losing his job. His greatest fear was losing a child, and a hug or supportive word from him certainly could make a huge difference for that child who may otherwise have received no encouragement at all that day.
Look at his football teams over the years. Look at his students.
My children love coach Drake and relay to me how they could talk to him, even though they came right home and talked to their parents, too. Teachers are important to kids. Other teachers may watch. Drake has proven he "does." Most likely, we need both kinds, but don't diminish the power of someone such as Drake. Allow him to teach and coach so long as he is passionate about this chosen field.