Several weeks ago I reached a personal milestone in my life. As a community service volunteer, I coached my 300th game. There were no balloons, cakes, bands, or ESPN reporters to celebrate this event. In fact, I was the only one who even knew, and I am even a little embarrassed to tell you that I have kept count through the years. The participants in my 300th game were 10-, 11-, and 12-year-old girls hustling their hardest and doing their best on the league softball field near our home in Casco, Maine. My daughter Sydney was the catcher on the team, and she had just thrown out her first runner of the season attempting to steal second base! The team went on to win the league championship and complete an undefeated season, and it was great fun for me to see their pride and excitement in celebrating their group accomplishment.
This issue of PROSALES is devoted in part to public service. In the process of an interview with senior editor Chris Wood, I was telling him about this aspect of my community service, and he asked me to share some thoughts with you on this topic.
The simplest goals in life may, at the end of the day, be the most important. My most fundamental personal goal is to be able to look back on my career someday (a long time from now) and know with confidence that I gave both my work at Hancock Lumber and my family at home everything I could—and that family was not sacrificed for work and that work was not sacrificed for family. I also want to know that I made a difference in the lives of young people and that I had fun in the process. My favorite place to combine having fun, helping young people in our community, and spending time with our daughters Abby and Sydney is through coaching.
Our family's favorite sport is basketball. I have coached at least one basketball team every winter since 1988. I have coached at every level from high school varsity to middle school to second-grade rec. I have worked with at least 10 young people a season, and I estimate I have coached more than 200 different kids in our community over the past 17 years. My team goals are always to make the sport exciting, challenging, competitive, and fun for the group. My individual goals are to connect with every player on the team and make each one feel special and important.
I have gotten so much enjoyment and energy out of coaching young people that I actually feel guilty! Coaching is very rewarding and healthy for me, and when I am doing it I am in the one place where nothing else enters my mind. I believe that harnessing this type of focus is a key to community service in general. We can all give the most when we get involved in the things we are most passionate about. My coaching experiences remind me of the time I spend working on behalf of the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) in that the more I give, the more I get back.
Everyone wins through community service. For example, I know that I am a better manager and leader at Hancock Lumber when I am coaching. Community service is always a win-win proposition, and for me there is no more important form of community service than working with young people through sports. My energy and enthusiasm go up and my communications skills are at their best when I am in the middle of a coaching season.
People often say to me, “Kevin, I don't know how you find the time to coach.” But I have never given it that much thought. I just do it. I don't play golf. I don't sail a boat. I don't have a second home down South (yet...hopefully someday!). I coach.
And ultimately, the things I care most about—family, community, young people, and our family business—all benefit.
Kevin Hancock President and CEO Hancock Lumber, Casco, Maine Incoming Chairman, NLBMDA