Rob Jenkins: How I traded one pathology for another

Ever since I came clean last week about my sordid past as a college basketball coach, I've had people asking me why I got out of the business.

Before I answer that question, though, I'd like for a moment to address any recreation league or high school officials who might have taken issue with anything I said.

Before you get too bent out of shape, just remember that coaches are smarter than officials. All officials can do is call the game, but I've never known a coach who couldn't coach and officiate at the same time.

Besides, you know why they don't play organized sports in Heaven, don't you? That's right. No officials.

But I digress. I was going to tell you the reason I got out of college coaching after 13 seasons. There were several reasons, actually, and I'll try to run through them briefly.

The first was that my own kids were growing up and getting ready to start high school, by which of course I mean high school sports. Having spent 13 years watching other people's children play, I wanted to watch my own for a change.

After all, if I weren't there on the sidelines, yelling at them to do the exact opposite of what their coach was telling them, what kind of father would I be?

Another reason I left coaching is that it tends to be an all-consuming profession. Time, energy, concentration -- if you're going to be competitive (and I was), coaching takes all you have.

As soon as the season was over, I hit the recruiting trail. Then we had summer camps. Then fall workouts. Then another season. Rinse and repeat.

Someone once asked my wife, "What does your husband do in the offseason?" She replied, "What offseason?"

But the main reason I left coaching relates to what you're doing right now: reading this newspaper column. I majored in English in college and studied writing in graduate school because I wanted to be a writer. But my writing career got sidetracked by my coaching career, mostly because everything got sidetracked by my coaching career except eating and sleeping, and sometimes those, too.

Fortunately, I'm getting to live my dream now, and I feel very fortunate to have had two very different but interesting careers in one lifetime. If I can ever get my new line of designer clothing off the ground, you can make that three interesting careers.

Just kidding. All I really want to do now is write and talk about writing. Which, incidentally, I'll be doing this Saturday, May 5, at BookLogix, a publishing company in Alpharetta that also offers free writing seminars. If you're interested, go to Booklogix.com and click on "Workshops and Events."

I'd love to see you there. I promise not to yell at you, as long as you're not wearing a black and white striped shirt.

Rob Jenkins is a local freelance writer and college professor. Email him at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com.