Dignity – a Final Lesson from my Coach.

Dignity – A Final Lesson from my Coach.

Earlier today in the late afternoon, Coach James W. Estes, left the playing field for the last time. Let me start at the beginning. I come from a family of soccer players, that was all we had done in the way of sports for most of our lives. I sort of lived in the shadow of my older brothers who were pretty much legends in Georgia soccer. In 1975, I was called into the Head Football Coach’s office for reasons unknown to me. Coach Dewey Alverson asked me to be the school’s place kicker. I went to a powerhouse of a school in football, Southwest Dekalb. I did what any scared 14 year old kid would do, I said no, I was a soccer player. The next week Coach Alverson asked me again and after some persuasion I decided with 3 years left at the school, it was in my best interest to at least give it a shot. I also thought at the time maybe I could emerge from my brother’s shadows and be the one to cast a shadow vs. live in one.

That day Coach Alverson introduced me to the Assistant Coach that was primarily responsible for me, Coach James W. Estes. Neither one of us knew anything about kicking specialist but we were going to learn together. My first lesson from Coach Estes was patience. Together we learned and we practiced and eventually I learned my second lesson from Coach Estes and that was confidence. The lessons came a little quicker after that, next came faith. Coach Estes taught me about having faith in others, my holder, my line, my coaches and my ability. In the 3 years I was our kicker, my line and holder never betrayed my faith, we never had a kick blocked in about 100 attempts. I did my best to give my team the ability to have faith in me, and I believe they did. I never let them down in a critical situation where the game depended on a kick.

I graduated in 1978 and pretty much lost touch with most of my Coaches and teammates until I became active on Facebook. I reconnected with many of my friends from that past life. During that time I reconnected, if only by the internet, to Coach Estes. It was then I learned another lesson from the Coach…service. Here was a man who had served to help teach young people how to live their lives right. He was involved with schools and education all of his life almost. About 9 months ago I read of Coach falling very ill. There were times I read about his condition and thinking he won’t make it through the night, surely not the next day or that week. He wasn’t finished teaching me though. He lived for those 9 months, teaching me every day about life. Because of his faith, he knew he was on God’s schedule not his own and accepted that one day he would pass and he was fine with that. He made the best of each and every day with his family and friends. I would like to have gone to visit him but I didn’t. I think he also taught me about not having regrets. You make decisions, you live with them and remember you are not in control. Most of all though, Coach’s final lesson to me was how dignified he was at the face of death to smile, to embrace his family and let them know how much he loved them and all those in his life.

Coach Estes took a short, scared 14 year old kid, taught him about patience, confidence, faith, service and most of all dignity. He didn’t just teach me to kick a football, he taught me about being a man. Godspeed Coach Estes on your journey. You taught so many. You taught them more than speed, power and skill, you taught us how to live and how to die with dignity.

The Milky Way 091315a copy


4 Responses to “Dignity – a Final Lesson from my Coach.”

  1. This was an awesome tribute. Graduated from Cedar Grove but went to SWD when Coast Estes was there. He will be missed! Prayers for the family. ❤

    • lilybug1960 Says:

      Yes he will. We lived in a neighborhood where we were able to choose between SWD and Cedar Grove. Since we were already at SWD when CG opened we stayed there. Thanks!

  2. I followed your blog because I’m a native Georgian and I love your shots from the mountains. My mom grew up in Blairsville. Plus, we’ve been to many of the same places and enjoy similar styles of photography. (I have an image from Schwabachers Landing hanging in my office…)
    Now I see that you graduated from Southwest Dekalb in 1978. I graduated from Towers in 1977.
    I didn’t know Coach Estes but your tribute to him is powerful and moving. Thanks for your posts and your beautiful photography. Both are inspiring.

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