A coach’s role is to support the team’s players and encourage them to push themselves to greater heights than they imagined. To those outside the circle of players and coaches, this support can appear rough around the edges and lack empathy or compassion. However, the bonds between a good coach and the players runs deep and way behind the field.
Kris Sweet, the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach for Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas, already began forming those bonds with his football players during his first offseason with the team. But in July, Sweet received shocking news: a diagnosis of B-cell, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system.
Sweet told CNN that he let the team know immediately about his cancer diagnosis and upcoming treatment so they were aware in the future if he was not at practice.
As word spread about how the upcoming treatment could cause the 46-year-old to lose his hair, the team decided to not only offer words of encouragement but to take action to show their support.
The young men got together and shaved their heads as a visible display of their unity behind their coach. Then the team made a surprise visit to Coach Sweet. A touching video captured the moment they walked into his room and it was posted on Twitter by the team:
Recently our Offensive Coordinator, Kris Sweet, was diagnosed with cancer. So members from the team shaved their heads to support him. Truly a SPECIAL team here at Lyon. #SweetStrong 🔴⚔️⚪️ pic.twitter.com/LDmhvpCHgR
— Lyon Scots Football (@_Lyon_Football) August 27, 2019
The coach was visibly moved at his team’s gesture. Sweet hugged each player and gave them a pat on their newly-shaved head.
After the visit, Calvin Powell, another Lyon College football coach posted words of support to Sweet, as well with a video and photos of the haircuts, writing “When @LyonScotsFball players say they got your back, it’s not just talk.”
When @LyonScotsFball players say they got your back it's not just talk #SACKville #sweetstrong #scotsea20n https://t.co/QMTEAI2zYC pic.twitter.com/VXBoMnWsWA
— Calvin Powell (@coachcalpowell) August 27, 2019
At a press conference following the viral video, Coach Sweet thanked the players, the Lyon College community and everyone on social media for their encouragement and support. He said his players’ actions taught him a lot about the younger generation.
“I have two kids of my own, and my two girls have probably taught me more than I’ll ever teach them,” Sweet said during the press conference. “You learn from them. If nothing else, it gives people my age, (from) my generation, maybe a little more confidence and faith in the younger generation…There’s compassion. There’s humility. And there’s a care there. A lot of kids in this generation don’t see anything past themselves. For them to do that, it’s pretty impressive.”
We wish Coach Sweet the best of luck with his recovery.