A coach is not just a teacher But a builder of skill, of character

To the Editor:

Last Friday evening, the Guilderland Lady Dutch basketball team ended its season with a loss to Shaker in an exhilarating a game that wasn’t decided until the last few minutes of play. The real thrill to me, however, is that this was a milestone many did not think could be achieved just a few short years ago.

Our daughters showed pluck and determination and a joint goal to actually beat the number-one seed in the Suburban Council, and believe in themselves enough to almost accomplish something that the Shaker team won’t soon forget. The Blue Bison did indeed survive a scare.

This post-season play was one of the most satisfying seasons that our proud Lady Dutch team has had in many years, and has our daughter already thinking about next year’s goals, even as she feels wistful for this one. It has been a wonderful season for us.

How has this remarkable transformation come about? When substantive change occurs, it is rarely one reason. Timing, the right chemistry on the team, and many other things contribute to a team’s success. I do think, however, that a large reason should be credited to our daughter’s coach, Frank Cacckello.

I have been observing and interacting with Coach since our daughter first participated in a camp he runs through the town parks department when she was 9 years old. Over the years, I have seen him in his many varied roles, adapting with each season to the team that is assembled.

I’ve seen him extend compassion and encouragement to a team who had rarely won a game all year as well as challenge team members to offer all that could to their teammates as they pursued a common goal. Each year, with a new team in place, I have seen how he frames the season so that, if a girl wanted to, she could have the best experience possible, if that were her choice. All while consistently teaching everything about the game he could to his players.

Why does he do this? I believe he cares about each young woman who comes through the program. Over and over again, I have seen him with our daughter and many other young women, unseen by the majority of parents and supporters, offer encouragement and compassion, sharing his belief in their abilities when their hearts are broken from a missed shot, and reminders of how far they have progressed as both a player and s student.

A coach is not just a teacher of skills. A couch does something much more than impart information to be recited and recalled on a test. A coach is a builder of character.

He or she is someone that the player can rely on to challenge, turn to when things are not going well, and celebrate with when things turn out perfectly. He or she should inspire a player to grow not just in the discipline of their chosen sport, but also in real life to become their best self, and, in turn, become the proverbial team player.

Coach Cacckello is that man.

I believe that change and growth come from the inside of a person. Generally, it begins when someone who is unhappy with their present circumstances decides to stop playing victim in their own story.

I believe that it is important to take responsibility in the choices you make in every situation and to be as authentic as you can in what you say and do. In that way, Coach leads by example and is therefore able to challenge our daughter to grow and adapt, a skill set that ultimately will serve her well as she goes forward in life.

Coach Cacckello has made a huge contribution to my daughter’s incredible maturation and growth as a leader on a team of girls who know how to work together, in good times and bad. It was, for her, an amazing year that she is sad to see end.

For us, it was that and so much more. He challenged her because he already knew what she was capable of and highlighted within her something in the process that just can’t be replaced: faith in herself.

Fare thee well, Coach. You will be missed

Meg Eckhardt


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