My high school coach has died. He was our mentor, our role model, our leader and a true man among men. There wasn't a sport he couldn't teach us, but he didn't coach sports...he coached boys. He coached boys on how to be men. He taught us how to treat women. He taught us integrity, honesty, sportsmanship and how to learn from our losses...how to be gracious whenever we didn't win. He is the reason that to this day I walk across the field...or across the room...to congratulate my opponent whenever he or she has beaten me. He's the reason I can watch a game and still marvel and celebrate with the opposing team's player who makes an amazing play. He always reminded us that the other teams were made up of players who were human beings giving their best just as we were, while wins and losses would eventually be forgotten. He taught us to get over being pulled from the game and getting benched, and to think of the team rather than ourselves individually, thereby teaching us sacrifice. And he was the ultimate example because he sacrificed his entire life to raise generation after generation of boys to be gentle fathers and husbands, to be kind coaches and bosses. And somehow as an afterthought aside, he taught us to be pretty decent athletes.
If any of this sounds exaggerated, just ask any boy I grew up with in Argentina. Even better, ask the girls. They were witnesses to it, just as we were witnesses to the magic and dedication of their coach, Señora Herminia Granitto, who built incredibly amazing women out of them. Rest In Peace, Donato Laurita. Rest In Peace, our beloved "Profe."