If you are even remotely familiar with high school baseball in Louisiana, you are likely aware that Ronnie Coker, a former coach and athletic director in the Shreveport/Bossier area, recently passed away after a two-year battle with cancer. For those familiar with Ronnie, you know his achievements coaching teams at Parkway and Captain Shreve to state championships. For those that were closer to him, you know that his significance in life was much more than just success on the baseball field. His impact on players, coaches, students, communities, and people across the state of Louisiana was remarkable.
Whether you knew Ronnie or not, I hope you keep reading as his life was a life well lived and an inspiration to all of us. Ronnie and I both grew up in Minden when athletics were starting to see a level of success in that community that had not been experienced in some time. Ronnie was a year older than me, but we played on many of the same teams growing up. We played various sports together, but baseball was Ronnie’s passion. He was always one of the better players on our teams in Minden, but it was his work ethic that really stood out. Ronnie got the most out of his ability as a player and competed so hard! Our high school coach, Marvin Jones, instilled a great work ethic in all of us that played for him. Marvin worked just as hard as we did during those long practices, and Ronnie completely bought in.
Unlike others of us, Ronnie actively pursued a way to keep playing after high school and continued to work hard and compete at a high level in college. He took that same hard-working approach to coaching as he did as a player. He demanded maximum effort from players but also invested so much in his relationship with them. His impact on high school baseball went well beyond his own team though. His leadership, influence, and overall presence impacted other schools, many other coaches, and Louisiana high school baseball is better today because of Ronnie Coker.
His Win the Day Foundation has had an enormous impact in a very short period. Rather than taking a cancer diagnosis as a set-back, Ronnie embraced the opportunity to have as much impact as possible through the foundation. He made the most of every moment post diagnosis and continued to get the most out of his abilities until he was no longer able. Whether playing, coaching, or influencing others, he gave all he had to give!
Here’s my three key life lessons from a former teammate, friend, and inspiration:
- Focus on potential not a comparison – Too many of us compare our abilities, opportunities, and experiences to others and limit what we pursue. We talk ourselves out of embracing challenges and pursuing dreams. Make the most of your potential and your opportunities. Develop solid habits and seek to reach your potential! There’s no win in comparison! Everyone has potential, the key is to reach it!
- Significance trumps success – Set goals and pursue success in your related field of interest. Compete hard, train hard, work hard, and pursue your goals; however, realize that success is often short lived. Significance, however, is long-term. Success is often a self-focused endeavor. Significance is the result of the impact on others. Seek significance beyond success!
- Investing in others is the only guaranteed return in life – As we progress through the various stages in life, we can get consumed with meeting our personal needs and those of our immediate family. While those are important, we need to also take the time to invest in others. Joy and significance in life are found in what we do for others.
At the end of one’s life, the material possessions, the plaques on the wall, the impressive titles, or the balance in the checking account won’t mean anything. The impact we leave with others will be meaningful. The number of people attending Ronnie’s visitation and service would indicate that he had an enormous impact on so many! Coach Ronnie Coker no doubt heard the words, “well done” after a life well lived!