The perfect musical composition has never been written, the perfect game never played, the perfect sermon never preached and the perfect life never lived. Not by mere mortals, anyway. Across the ages, though, lots of folks keep trying.

These thoughts came to mind upon the retirement of Dallas Cowboys’ Coach Bill Parcells. Here’s a man guaranteed a place among the best coaches in history, yet sadly one who seemed frustrated and/or unhappy during his four years in Dallas. He’d tackled the job relentlessly and with unquestionable passion. I pondered a preacher friend’s observation about passionate work.

Dr. Richard Jackson should know, having been a pastor for more than 40 years. He handled well the challenges and frustrations — not unlike those faced by coaches. Hanging in the balance were eternal consequences, not mere trophies…

My friend started out in the 1950s at a small church where plastic flowers adorned the altar except on special Sundays. A few dozen people gathered for worship each week, most of them calling the others by name.

His final pastorate spanned a quarter of a century. The church grew from a few hundred members to some 22,000. He was in the glare of TV cameras each week; thousands of parishioners worshiped in multiple services.

It would be correct to place “mega” in front of the church’s name during most of those years. And yes, it had real flowers…

I know something of his schedule and a smattering of the demands of such a pastorate.

“Life’s work is a lot like spinning a ball,” he said. “If we are passionate and growing, the ball seems to get bigger and bigger, and gradually more difficult to spin.”

“We feel that it must be done and that we must continue to do it, however, so we spin continuously. If the ball were square, we could put it down, like a suitcase, thus resting from time to time.” He also pointed out that it is round, and has no handles…

“Finally, the ball seems too big, and we don’t feel equal to maintaining the spin,” Richard said.

He talked about difficulty in letting go, and how many prayers ascend that successors will take care of the ball, putting their unique spin on it.

“Keep in mind that Parcells’ ball was oblong, making spinning even tougher,” Dr. Jackson reminded…

With Super Bowl XLI fast approaching, I find myself thinking not about the trophy, but vignettes that don’t make the sports pages — accomplishments that don’t show up on transcripts or resumes.

I can think of tens of thousands of other coaches who never reach the big stage, but still manage to touch untold numbers of lives along the way.

One such man is Steve Chevreaux, a high school coach for some three decades…

At one stop, he took on the challenge of coaching a rag-tag team that had rarely scored and never won for several years.

He won his share, but this account has nothing to do with scoreboards.

Instead, it is about a nameless boy, perhaps 7-8 years of age who showed up regularly for twice daily work-outs in the heat of August. At first, he stood far back in the end zone, as if he feared being told to leave.

He became bolder, and soon was helping the managers gather up footballs and equipment after each session…

Steve and his staff noticed him. They started chatting with the youngster, and he became more and more comfortable. That’s the way it went for several weeks.

One day it dawned on the coach that maybe this little boy didn’t have a football at home. So, he bought him one.

Days went by, though, and the lad was not seen at practice…

After a few weeks, he re-appeared. Chevreaux greeted him, asking that he drop by the field house following practice.

The youngster’s face lit up when the coach handed him a football—his “very first one ever.” He started toward the door, but returned to ask if the coaches would sign the ball.

With lumps in their throats, they signed…

Steve doesn’t remember the kid’s name. Or many details that have grown fuzzy about the games—including some of the outcomes.

Unforgettable, though, is that beaming smile of a grateful lad who wanted autographs of the men who had befriended him.

These are the coaches I respect most. With or without trophies, they help youngsters put the best possible spin on life…

Don Newbury is a speaker and author whose weekly column appears in 125 newspapers in six states. He welcomes comments and inquiries. Call him at (817) 447-3872, or send e-mail to newbury@speakerdoc.com His Web site is www.speakerdoc.com.