An Inspiration On and Off The Court

by Carla Pelz

In a world where there's talk of poor sportsmanship and bad behavior by athletes, parents, and coaches, it is somewhat unusual to find a coach who has gained the respect and admiration of athletes, parents, administrators, and the community. Coach Karen Coffin has done that.

Coach Coffin has been an inspiration to hundreds of students and athletes throughout her years of teaching and coaching. As the coach of the award-winning Port Clinton, Ohio Girls Tennis team for 21 years, she has collected quite an impressive resume. Some highlights include:

  • 66% dual match winning record
  • 8 league championships
  • Instrumental in the construction of a premier tennis facility in Northern Ohio
  • Honored with "Karen Coffin Day" in the city upon her retirement
  • Coach of several state-ranked team and college athletes
  • Currently conducting "Survival Skills for Coaches" seminars
  • Elementary Physical Education teacher for 30 years

About the author...
Twenty years ago I played tennis for a rival team while Coach Coffin was coaching at Port Clinton. I admired her then, not only because of her winning seasons, but also because of the way she treated her athletes with fairness and kindness. I played Coach Coffin's daughter in many heated matches. Years later, after receiving my degree in education, I was hired by Port Clinton City Schools and, with Coach Coffin's encouragement, begin coaching tennis there.

One of the most significant things Coach Coffin has given me is a collection of her thoughts on life and tennis entitled "Lessons Learned Between The Lines." I have included it below. Her enthusiasm for the sport of tennis and her passion for the education of youth is truly an inspiration. I hope that young athletes everywhere will read this and consider it "words to live by" as I have.

Lessons Learned Between The White Lines

1. You will have bad draws, bad calls, and bad luck... overcome them; You will have good draws, good calls, and good luck... appreciate them.
2. Your reputation is more important than your record.
3. Competition makes you stronger. You find out how good you can really be.
4. To maintain poise in a stressful situation is an act of courage.
5. The team is more important than you are, but the team cannot succeed without you.
6. You cannot control the outcome of a match, but you CAN control how hard you try.
7. The person with integrity wins every match.
8. How you handle the good times matters just as much as how you handle the bad.
9. The best victories are the ones you’ve worked the hardest to achieve.
10. Tennis is a sport which includes a lot of love and serving. A life well-lived includes the same.
Karen Coffin, June 2001

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