Life doesn’t get easier, you just get stronger.” So says Boston Marathon bombing victim Jeff Bauman in his book, which is due to be released this coming month, marking almost, to the day, the anniversary of the bombing.
Bauman lost both legs in the terrorist attack but is the personification of ‘Boston Strong’, and it was his bravery post-surgery that helped lead to the capture of one suspect and the shooting of the other.
Having faced terrible adversity in his mission to walk again, Bauman’s new book, co-written by Bret Witter, is sure to inspire readers around the world.
Of course, you might say this isn’t a book on coaching. On the other hand, you could suppose it is a book on the very epitome of coaching… on courage and determination through sport. Jeff was a brilliant marathon runner in the lead-up to that fateful day, a sportsman of strong regard, and he one craves to emulate as he strives to get back to the levels of fitness he once had.
In the book, he discusses the challenges he has faced in coming to terms with his new life, but at the heart is a deep passion for competition – a new type of competition. He encourages us to reach into his story because, after all, it’s relative to sport. We all learn so much through adversity in sport – for some it’s how to win, for others it’s how to accept defeat, and for Jeff the lessons are equally philosophical despite the obvious physical damage inflicted on him on April 16.
A year later he is engaged to fiancée Erin Hurley, and all being well, in July of this year the couple will welcome their first child into the world. Bauman has gone as far as to say that the bombing “made him” – transformed him into someone with a reason and a purpose.
It is the ultimate exemplar of learning from one’s setbacks, and yes, ‘Stronger’ may be the story of how a life can be reassembled first and foremost, but it’s also a salient tome for any coach who wants to reach into the abyss of adversity and emerge out the other side. It’s a piece of literature that is truly aspirational, and makes the reader realise that while, seemingly, any ambition can be fulfilled, so too should we not impress too much on our subconscious the demand to achieve absolutely everything in life.
Sure, the author retains a passion and a determination to achieve – his has sporting aims going forward, even if the parameters have changed. But if there is one thing Bauman has gained in the past year it’s perspective, and that’s a key quality for any coach, no matter how much we want to win or want to see our players develop.
Jeff Bauman woke up on Tuesday, April 16th 2013 and he had no legs.
Just 30 hours prior, Jeff was surrounded by revelry at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon. The first bomb went off at his feet as he awaited his girlfriend’s finish. When Jeff awoke days later from hours of surgery, rather than take stock of his now completely altered life, Jeff ripped out his breathing tube and tried to speak. He couldn’t. Jeff asked for a pad and paper and he wrote down seven words, “Saw the guy. Looked right at me,” setting off one of the biggest manhunts in the country’s history and beginning his own brave road to recovery.
In his memoir, Jeff will inspire millions by writing about his experiences that early spring day and his ongoing mission to walk again.
STRONGER, Jeff Bauman and Bret Witter. Published by Grand Central Publishing.