As part of MENTOR’s #ThankYourMentor campaign, many people are taking the time to thank mentors who were there at critical moments in their lives. On our blog, we are featuring poignant stories from mentors and mentees who know the impact of mentoring first-hand. This story comes from Alphonso Mayo, who has been greatly impacted by the power of mentoring.
When I turned 12, I played football under Coach Roland Brown, who was hands down the best coach I’d ever had. Unlike other coaches, he didn’t play favorites and always put the best person for a position on the field. If you started messing up, you’d get pulled out and have to fight for your spot back. Coach Roland was a great coach and became like a father to me. He was someone who was level-headed and fair. He was rational, thoughtful, and took a sincere interest in the kids he coached. During my second year I couldn’t afford to play, so he told me not to worry and let me participate despite the cost.
Coach Roland taught our team to behave more like men. His philosophy was founded on respect; we weren’t allowed to talk back to him. When he gave us an order we had to say, “Yes sir” and, “No sir.” Although he demanded respect from us, he also let us voice our opinions one-on-one. His honestly helped develop trust between himself and our team. If he made a mistake in his coaching—if we lost and he felt it was his fault—he would tell us. I’d never seen anyone in my family do that. But I saw the importance of that honesty, and I began to emulate it. He showed us that he cared on-and-off the field: you could show up at his house at any time and he would feed you and make you feel welcome.
There was one year where I quit the team and had a night I will never forget. Coach Roland knocked on my door at 2 in the morning and sat me down on my front porch, while my grandma stood in the doorway listening. He said, “Is this what you want for yourself? Is this who you are?” I kept my head down. “Look, its simple. You can’t quit my team. It’s okay if your friends go, but not you. Why? Because you’re not a quitter.” Although I didn’t want to admit it, he’d been right about everything he had ever taught me.
It was at that moment I realized the potential he saw in me. I knew he would not quit on me. Not as a man, father-figure, leader, or a mentor. I take those lessons of vulnerability, honesty and respect that I’ve learned from Coach Roland with me everyday, in everything that I do. Thank You Coach Roland for all that you’ve taught me over the years. #ThankYourMentor
-Do it right-
-Do it to the best of your ability-
-Listen with a purpose-
-Never play favorites-
-You’ll only get what you have earned-
-Look a man in his eyes-
-Care for others-
-You Can’t Quit-