Everyone Needs a Coach: A Tribute and Personal Reflection

Everyone Needs a Coach: A Tribute and Personal Reflection

JEFF-SOMMER-2Southwest Florida lost a legendary cross-country and distance track coach, Jeff Sommer, in 2015.  Coach Sommer collapsed while at the Florida State High School Championships just as the girls 4 x 800 relay won the state championship. At 58 years old he had a wonderful family and served as Athletic Director and Head Coach for the cross-country team at Estero High School.

My Relationship with Jeff

I had the privilege of getting to know Coach Sommer well and the great honor of calling him friend. My older son opted to get up at 4:00am every morning during his spring break in Naples just so he could train with Coach Sommer’s team. During several of these early morning training sessions Coach and I ran together while the team worked out, and talked about a wide range of topics. Through these discussions I came to understand what a truly inspirational one-of-a-kind man he was.

As I watched the way he ran his practice sessions, I saw the deep passion he had toward the sport and the great love he had for his athletes shine through in everything he did. Coach Sommer and I exchanged several emails over the past year. As I got to know him better it became abundantly clear that he did not do what he did to make a name for himself (which happened anyway) or to win championships (which his teams did anyway). Instead, he wanted to shape young women and men to act as leaders.

Coaches and Life

After I learned of his passing, I took some time to reflect on the positive impact a great coach can have on a person’s life. My high school coach, Bill Lavine, and my college coach, Jon Lederhouse, were major influences that shaped my character to make me into the person I am today. 

A coach’s job amounts to much more than simply teaching athletes to run or swim faster. Within the scope of coaching, he prepares his athletes for the future by shaping their characters so they have the wisdom and fortitude to handle all life has to offer. Coaches like Jeff Sommer teach athletes to work hard, take personal responsibility, arrive early, face failure without fear, pursue goals relentlessly, and sacrifice for the good of the team.

As a wealth advisor much of how I interact with my clients and colleagues I learned from those who coached me.   Wealth advisors have a duty not only to consider our clients’ current situations, but also to properly prepare them for life’s future milestones and to handle those unexpected challenges that invariably pop up from time to time. I liken my role as a wealth partner to my clients to that of a coach.

Our Condolences

Mere words are woefully inadequate to express the depth of gratitude I feel for the mentoring and friendship I received from my own coaches and from my great friend, Coach Jeff Sommer. Each of these men has exemplified the character I strive to emulate as I serve those who have entrusted their futures to me.

Coach Lavine, Coach Lederhouse, and Coach Sommer, the lessons and wisdom you have given me have not only blessed me, but also my family, friends, business partners, and clients as well as all the others who had the privilege of learning from you. Your dedication, love, and generosity have impacted so many and, through them and those they touch, you have truly changed the world for the better.


[caption id="attachment_433" align="alignleft" width="150"]Robert K. O’Dell, CFP Robert K. O’Dell, CFP[/caption]

Coyle Financial Counsel’s Rob O'Dell, CFP® has been implementing strategies and providing ongoing wealth counsel to families as they navigate life’s transitions for the past ten years. Contact Rob to learn about visual financial planning and mind mapping and discover a better way to manage your finances.

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