He would reassure me that.
I have told this story many times before about one of my favorite mentors I had in my life and career and it was worth sharing again as part of my "Life on The road" series.
Tommy Groom was such a positive and amazing human being and a true character from the moment you met him. I was truly fortunate enough to have coach come into my life, to become my friend and mentor at that time. He had a major impact on my life at a time when I really needed someone to help guide me as I was figuring out my career, figuring out how to be a dad and figuring out how to just take a moment to enjoy the moment. He would reassure me that "Everything will fall into place if you are headed to the right place". His story and his daily positivity is worth sharing again...
Tommy grew up in a small West Virginia town and I guess just inherently through his family and the culture of the small town blue collar community, he just had a way to break down a situation into it's simplest common sense form and didn't make things overly complicated or dramatic. Always looking for the good in people and in the situation. Perhaps that is what shaped his attitude and outlook on life and people.
He played football at Virginia Tech in the late 1960's and was a college football coach at the division one level for 30+ years. During his coaching career he was hired and fired several times, moved his family several times and was married several times. Yet he never missed a day of living with a smile and positive attitude!
Amongst the hundreds of questions I asked him along the way.. one extremely power answer to what was a simple question, left an incredible impactful on how I viewed my career from that moment on..... "Out of all the places you ever coached, where and when was the best time in your life and career"? His response changed everything. "The best placed I've ever worked, is wherever I'm at". He would tell me "Don't worry about your next job, make sure you are taking care of the one you're current in". Really simple advice and 100% true.
Coach and I traveled throughout the United States, Mexico and Asia for several years operating the NFL Youth and Fan Development programs. We put on hundreds of NFL youth events, camps, clinics, tournaments from Boston to Bangkok and as you can imagine had the experience of a lifetime. We were very lucky and we knew it, we worked with incredibly passionate administrators, coaches and players all over the world, with one goal of expanding a sport we all loved. Needless to say, we spent A LOT of time together and I was a sponge to all his hilarious stories and his incredible outlook on life.
One of the legendary stories and the absolute moment when I knew he was at a whole different level...He calls me up early morning on January 2, 1998 and says "Hey Man, I have good news and bad news." "I say ok whats the bad news"? in his southern drawl and I kid you not he goes "I burnt my house down deep frying a turkey"! I was shocked and wasn't sure if he was fooling around "Coach are you and the family ok"? " Yea all good, you know how quick I am, got em all out but the pet turtle". I said "Well what's the good news, if the bad news is your house burnt down"? He goes without missing a beat..."I get a NEW HOUSE"!
One day after such devastation, he still found it in him to find the positive side of life during a very sad situation for him and his family and find a way to be positive was simply inspiring to be a better person.
I learned from coach that it's all in how you look at a situation no matter good or bad, but take a second and break it into common sense reasoning. He loved to say, "Once you make a decision, it will be the best decision you made today".
He lived by the words he preached. His zest for life, football, people and enjoying the exact moment that he was living in was contagious. He was always the slickest dressed in the room with his standard black sport coat and cowboy boots. Out of our group of khaki and sneaker wearing schleps he was the man. It was funny how he always had a tan, but only on his face. I asked him one time "Why don't you ever tan anything else but your face...in true coach reasoning he says "Rob, It only matters what you look like walking INTO the bar". Another lesson learned coach!
Coach Tommy Groom passed away at the age of 55 in his sleep in 2003. He had a major impact of all those who knew him, were lucky enough to be coached by him and call him a friend, dad, brother and ex husband! He was a true character and everyday I apply lessons I learned from him in my professional life. I'm sure he is now making the best out of the place... wherever he is at.
Follow me on here in LinkedIn and on Twitter @robthompsonlive