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Coaching Based in the Foundation of Love! Through the Eyes of an Athletic Director

Jul 2, 2021

I really don’t care how many games you win….

I don’t care how many state titles you win….

I don’t care how many awards you win….

The one true indicator of a successful programs is a foundation built on love. When I hear coaches and student athletes talk about their team and I hear the word love I know there will be success. It might not be in the form of a trophy, media coverage or front-page headlines, but nonetheless success!

In my years as an athletic administrator all the great coaches I have had the opportunity work with have one irrefutable quality that transcends winning. That quality is love! Sometimes I feel that in coaching love is many times is discarded and considered “soft coaching”. I honestly believe that coaching with love is one of the toughest ways to coach today’s student athlete. Love doesn’t always mean rainbows and butterflies.. Love requires discipline, honesty, and the occasional heated conversation. Coaching with love requires sacrifice, commitment, and consistency.

Some of the most emotional reunions are that of a coach and their players. The overwhelming theme amidst all of the success, the trophies, bright lights and headlines is love! Love for their Team & Love for their Coach!

Throughout the years I’ve heard so many stories about the coach and student athlete relationship. The stories that stick are built in the relationship, not the extrinsic rewards of sport.

“Coach made sure I had food to eat. My mom always had to work late and Coach would always make sure I had a ride home and something to eat.”

“Coach helped me with my homework. I was really struggling in math and he made sure I understood the importance of graduating.”

“Coach came to my dads funeral when I was a freshman and he always made sure I was doing all right even when I went off to college.”

“Coach came to the hospital when sister was in a car accident he stayed there all night.”

“Coach made me understand that hard work and commitment in the pursuit of excellence was key to my future success.”

“I loved playing for Coach.”

Very few of the comments had to do with coaching strategy, preparation, or even motivation. It was all built with the foundation of love. A Coach’s love of all their players, whether they were all-state, all-conference or the student athlete that never played a minute.

Any true great leader whether it’s a coach, teacher, athletic administrator or CEO leads from the heart. That means being strong yet vulnerable, consistent yet flexible, and most importantly they love those they lead!

“Leaders become great, not because of their power, But because of their ability to empower others” -John Maxwell

We all are flawed and at times are not always great, but our ability to re-focus our purpose reflect and move forward is important in our daily lives to lead in the service of others. Reflection is key to one’s purpose. On a daily basis it is easy to fall into negative thoughts and actions. Frustration and negativity can tear us down and cause us to lose our focus. At the end of the day as coaches and athletic administrators our purpose is to develop young people. To help them achieve far beyond their expectations. That is why reflection on your day is so important. How could I have handled situations differently? How could I have better served others? How can I be a better leader? What is my Why? As coaches and administrators we have such a profound affect on our student athletes positive or negative.

So many times throughout my career I think back on all the situations I could’ve handled better and regrettably made a negative impact instead of a positive outcome. Now as I reflect on those situations… they are a part of my journey and I have learned greatly from my many failures.

One of my favorite stories is about Amos Alonzo Stagg Legendary football coach. After playing in the national championship game Coach Stagg was asked by a reporter “what do you think of your team coach?” Coach Stagg simply responded “I’ll let you know in 20 years.” Coach Stagg knew over a half a century ago that his legacy and impact would touch the lives of his players far beyond they’re playing career.

Sports is truly an amazing platform to teach our student athletes about the game of life. Teaching them grit, determination, how to conquer adversity and the bond that is created on a team based in love.

“Who said a good coach can change a game a great coach can change a life” -John Wooden

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