by Rev. Everette Chapman
Whether or not one is a Clemson Tiger football fan, it is difficult not to be drawn into the sideline enthusiasm of Head Coach, Dabo Sweeney, or Defensive Coordinator, Brent Venables, especially that of Coach Venables. In fact, Coach Venables’ game-time enthusiasm on the Clemson sidelines got so out-of-hand several years ago that the game officials came to Coach Sweeney and told him he would have to do something to curb his Defensive Coordinator’s excitement during the games or else begin to suffer penalties. Coach Venables would either have to stay in the coaching box and keep from crossing into the playing field, or Clemson would be assessed severe penalties, which would cost the team.
Assistant coach, but as he looked around the office that day – August 31, 2014 – he hit on a solution. He saw his massive and muscular Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach, Adam Smotherman, standing there and said, “Okay, Smo, from now on, your Saturday assignment is to be our “Get-Back Coach.” However you have to do it, you need to keep Ven inside the coach’s box and off the playing field. If a penalty is called on him, I am going to count it a penalty on you.” That was the day that Adam Smotherman became Clemson’s “Get-Back Coach.”
There is almost never a televised Clemson game, especially a bowl game, in which the cameraman does not show lengthy footage of Smo’s constantly grabbing Coach Venables and pulling him away from the game action on the field and, especially, out of the way of the officials as they run down the Clemson sideline. In addition to preventing penalties from being called against Clemson’s DC, he renders other good services.
He also allows Coach Venables to be totally-focused on his duties as Defensive Coordinator. Moreover, he and his teammates and Clemson’s coaching staff want never to get in the sight lines of the official, who because of such visual interference might miss a call, such error possibly going against the Tigers. For these and other reasons, Coach Venables needs a “get-back” coach.
Truth be told, you and I too need “get-back” coaches – those dedicated, caring, and fully-invested people who work to keep us out of trouble, want only the best for us, and are willing to risk our irritation, anger, or even rejection to help us make the right decisions and perform the right actions. Like Coach Venables, who sometimes glares in frustration at Smo, we often strike out at those who hold our feet uncomfortably to the fire, even though we know down deep that they only wish to guide us aright.
Thank God for the “get-back” coaches in our lives! I hope you were as fortunate as was I to have had loving Godly parents who served to pull you back from danger, even if they sometimes did it less gently than we would have liked. Along with me, you can think of teachers, principals, superintendents, and other educators who were devoted to keeping you out of danger and on a straight and upward path. And the Almighty has lovingly placed rabbis, priests, and ministers in our lives to serve as “get-back” coaches. For all of these and others, we will be forever grateful, even though sometimes we, like Coach Venable, don’t appreciate them as we should – parents, friends, teachers, ministers, supervisors, and other advisors.
Rev. Everette Chapman is Pastor of Fairfield Mountains Chapel, Lake Lure.