Saturday, May 14, 2016

GOODBYE


May 10, 2016

Dear Wrestlers and Wrestling Folks,

I write this letter to share my thoughts and feelings with my current wrestlers and parents, and to express my appreciation and thanks to many people.  All things in life eventually come to an end, and no one coaches forever.  I’ve decided to resign as wrestling coach at Blaine High School.  I’ve been coaching for 36 years, and it’s time. 

This has been a tough decision, and two things are especially hard.  First, I’ve been a wrestler or coach for most of my life.  Wrestling is–and has always been–my identity.  I love the sport, and I’m not sure who I’ll be without it, but I look forward to finding out.  Second, I knew the day would come when I’d have to leave a group of wrestlers.  It was inevitable, but still, it hurts.  When you watch kids sacrifice, and suffer, and work like these boys do, you can’t help but love them for it, and saying goodbye to people you love is one of the hardest things in life.  They aren’t all state champions or medalists, but they are all special, and equally hard to leave.

Still, many wise old coaches have said, “There will always be wrestlers, so if that’s your criteria, how do you ever quit?”  In 36 years, I’ve coached many hundreds of kids.  Today, I leave an exceptional group of wrestlers and their families.  Behind them is another wave of kids, and after those, many more.  So yes, the old-timers are right.  There will always be kids, but at some point all coaches will leave their teams behind.  Now, it’s my turn.

In learning this news, some of you might be sad.  Others may be hurt, or even angry.  Some may even be thinking, “It’s about time!”  These are all natural reactions when someone has coached as long as I have.

If you’re sad that I’m leaving, it means you are loyal and appreciative of my efforts, and our relationship.  I appreciate you in the same ways–your kindness and loyalty mean the world to me.  Please remember the good times, let go of any sadness, and look to tackle new challenges.  In wrestling and in life, there are always new challenges.  One can’t afford to stand still for long, and as you move forward, I hope you’ll offer your support to a new coach.

If you are hurt or angry, I ask for your grace in understanding that my leaving is not about you, but rather, because it’s time to give my wife, my family, and myself that best part of me that has been reserved for wrestling through all these years.

If you welcome a change, I understand.  Coaches cannot be all things to all people.  But I hope you understand that I gave my wrestlers all that I had to give, for many years.  Now, I wish for them the best coach possible, one who carries on the solid tradition of Blaine Wrestling.  I will be rooting for the new coach, and for these boys.  I believe they are capable of competing for a state title, and it will be exciting to follow their progress.

To the many alumni, parents and fans that embraced me as your coach, thank you!  Your loyalty and support have lifted me throughout my career.  These positive relationships are important to me, and I hope that my resignation will not cause our friendships to fade.

To my long-time wingman, Coach Rasar, and to all of our other coaches over the years, we experienced a good share of success, and faced many struggles together.  We worked our way through it all, and had a blast in the process.  I will miss my time on the mats with you.

To my troupe of managers and stat girls, you are a small sorority of awesome people!  Many of you don’t know each other, but you are a band of sisters (and one brother) who enhanced our program, and my life.  When your faces flash in my memory, I can’t help but smile.  Thank you for all you gave to me, to our wrestlers, and to our program.  You were very important to Blaine Wrestling, and are still appreciated.

To the hundreds of opposing coaches and referees I count as friends, our relationships are one of the best byproducts of being involved in this wonderful sport.  While I’m sure we’ll see each other from time to time, I’m aware that not having a team to compete with changes the dynamic in our relationships, and that saddens me.  Things will never be the same, and change can be bittersweet.  

To our administration in the Blaine School District–the School Board, Ron Spanjer, Scott Ellis (and former Principal Dan Newell), Wayne Vezzetti and Steve Miller (and former ADs Gary Clausen and Tom Luehmann)–you have treated me, our program, and our kids with unprecedented support.  This level of respect for wrestling by our administration is not apparent in many districts, and I appreciate working for each of you.  You are simply the best.

To our teachers and staff in the BSD, and to our community and businesses, you’ve taken a measure of pride in Blaine Wrestling, embraced our program, and supported us through your sacrifices, efforts, donations, and more.  In return, we appreciate and respect you all.  Thank you.

Finally, to the wrestlers who competed on my teams–in Blaine, Los Alamitos (CA), Shawnee (OK), McLoud (OK), EWU (WA), and Delhi Tech (NY)–we share a bond that is one of the most special aspects of my life.  Of the relationships I’ve had outside of family, my relationship with you is cherished above all.  We faced some moments together, enjoying amazing highs, and suffering devastating lows.  I’ve learned that experiencing one, makes the other that much more profound, and the intensity of feelings evoked by wrestling is unlike anything else.  But as I reflect, I realize that what happened on the mat is only a small part of things.  The van rides and hotel stays, the classroom interactions, the hard work, the joy and the suffering together, the life emergencies, and graduations.  Then, the weddings, and babies, and second generation wrestlers.  Like life, this list goes on and on, but it’s wrestling that binds us together.  While I have naturally been closer to some of you than others through the years, I love you all for what we shared.  Thank you for your hard work and your commitment.  Thank you for your loyalty.  Thank you for your friendship.

Sincerely,
Craig Foster





           

2 comments:

  1. Thanks coach for your 'over the top' devotion to kids through the years. You never gave up on us and we will never give up on you. You've touched countless lives. So many call you a second father because of you dedication to kids who worked hard. For me your teachings went far beyond the mat of which I'm greatful for. I hope other young teachers and coaches learn from you and pass along your exceptional hard work and never quit attitude. I'm sure trying to teach my two boys as you did me! Blaine is losing a hero, and a true gift to the community. Enjoy retirement you deserve every moment!

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  2. Coach Foster, good luck on the next stage of your journey. Being a manager/trainer for Blaine Wrestling was such a blast, I thank you for that opportunity. Turns out I like blood and guts, I'm now practicing as an RN. Enjoy spoiling yourself and your family! You deserve it.
    Thanks again coach,
    Shelby Phelps

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