Charles Plumb was a jet fighter pilot in Vietnam. He flew 75 successful missions, but was shot down on No. 76.  He was a prisoner of war for six years, but was eventually rescued.  Upon his return home he became an exceptional motivational speaker.  On stage, he would pace quietly for a minute with the spotlight on him in an 8 x 10 box drawn on the floor.  Then he would explain that his life for six years was basically in that size box.  One night after a speech he and his wife were at dinner and a man came up to him and said, “You’re Plumb.  You were a fighter pilot on the USS Kitty Hawk.”  Plumb thought to himself, “he must have heard me speak; I must have done a good job” and said “yes, how did you know”?  The man said, “I packed your parachute”.  Plumb, never at a loss for words, was speechless.  Thankfully the man grabbed his hand and said, “I guess it worked”.  Plumb went home thinking about how he might have passed that man on the ship and never acknowledged him because he was just a regular enlisted man while Plumb was an elite pilot.

The lesson Plumb learned is one I wish for you this season: we all need people to pack our parachutes–physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, etc.  Take time to thank those who do that for you and try to be someone who packs someone else’s parachutes.  If you want your players to have balance, model that behavior for them not only during practice and games, but in how you live your life.

–Bobby Lutz, NC State Assistant Coach, National Coaches’ Diary Series – “College Chalktalk


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