When I began my coaching career, the organization I worked for required all coaches to submit a police report from the local department. Technology had not quite taken hold yet, so I had to go into a police station and ask for this information. When I entered the teaching profession, there was another layer of scrutiny. I had to get fingerprinted and my information had to be run through the FBI database. I hadn’t done anything wrong, but I had to go to police headquarters to get it done. I did not want to do any of this, but it was necessary to make sure kids were in the safest environment possible.
Multiple times in my career I have submitted to various background checks and participated in mandatory programs to ensure the safety of children. I am in the kid business. As a teacher, coach, tutor, and foundation director, all of it comes back to kids. Before you can get them to run faster, jump higher or find the square root of 49, you have to keep them safe.
Musial Moments is far and away the most successful program I have been a part of since joining the St. Louis Sports Commission. I have held assemblies in over 100 schools and youth organizations. We teach kids about the extraordinary life and legacy of Stan Musial and about how they can and should be good sports on and off the field.
As things began to open up in the midst of the pandemic, I decided to get vaccinated. This was not mandated at work nor by any school we work with. I made this decision to protect my family and yours. I received a booster shot yesterday. I feel fine, thank you. I am aware of the science. I know nothing is 100% guaranteed. Likewise, background checking and fingerprinting teachers and coaches won’t stop that one sketchy so-and-so from falling through the cracks, but the system does protect most kids in most places. And that’s what I’m trying to do here.
Because despite the protocols in place, the following scenario will happen as it has happened before. When the assembly is over and the kids are going back to class, a little one will undoubtedly break out of line and sprint over to hug me. I will never be rude and push them away. This is how kids show their appreciation. All I can do is take comfort in the knowledge that I’ve done all I can to protect them and let them go back to the group.