Before I was ever involved in training, I was coaching. Started coaching about two years before my oldest daughter, maybe three. After so long, and different stops, it's kind of hard to tell when things started, the timeline gets fuzzy. I see it more in phases. I had HS, then a couple years dicking around after HS, then I got a phone call from my old coach asking my if I was interested in getting involved. I started off as a scout and volunteer middle school, I made $25 per week. Doesn't that already sound like some old school story from the 50's? "I made $25 per week," and never cared.
Even then I had a knack for communicating and tapping into a deeper level, something I think all coaches must have. If you've read anything or know me the slightest, you know I grew up idolizing Joe Paterno (even typing the name still makes me cry, literally), but I was also a huge Phil Jackson fan and read all his books. His first "Sacred Hoops," I feel is one of the best sports psych around. How he drew a picture, combining chaos of sports and art of movement, was inspiring. He wrote about basketball as if it were yoga, moving meditation. Calm in chaos. So as I'm coming along, learning as I go, being around some solid coaches, following JoePa and taking in this Zen mindset, things began to develop. My approach to coaching was developing.
my own development
This past week was our awards banquet for the team. All coaches had a chance to speak about their guys and inside the days leading up to it, were nerves. I'm actually not nervous about public speaking, I'm nervous about saying too much and not know when to shut up or slip up and take things down a completely different direction. I had one kid to speak about and wrote up a power point of things to remember in case I slipped away from task but I nearly blew it up within 3 seconds. Anyway! It went well, I'm sure parents were pleased, it was a 5, safe and sound.
But then we text after and I'll keep his end private but I will share what I wrote:
"Let football be your guidelines for other greatness and use what you went through as a learning tool and strive for excellence at everything you do moving down the road. Words like preparation and persistence, and then what I said about you tonight "intensity, passion and enthusiasm," let those words ring in your ears to help you build an incredible life. Never lose the drive, never lose the heart, and work hard at everything you do."
What I said about this young man was that he had the basics to play the position. Speed, strength, awareness, experience. But it was the x factors that made him stand out. Enthusiasm to play the game, the will to play with intensity and the passion to play full go, regardless of score or outcome.
So many of us have the basics we need for x, y and z. We are all able to play our "positions." But to be great, you/we/I have to have more.
I remember a guy I coached a few years ago, we had some troubles connecting. We got along fine, but when I needed some fire out of him, it just wasnt there. He was a very smart kid and it made me wonder, "Does he just think too much? Can he not let it loose?" So I knew I had to find a more common ground for us to BS about and see what I could learn. Turns out he plays guitar, ironically enough I've had a handful of guitar playing linebackers. So I ask him, "who do you play like? Who inspires you?" Thank God he said Jimi Hendrix, because that was all I needed. I asked more questions, diving into why he plays guitar, what he feels, why he enjoys it and on and on. Within a few days, I turned guitar into defensive football and it felt like I stole a chapter right out of Coach Jacksons book. His play improved immediately. He started playing faster, he started communicating more and he started playing with more confidence and I'm pretty sure ended up w a nice collection of awards when it was all said and done.
He was smart, so he didn't need me to help him get it together in the class room. He had plenty of family support, so he didn't need me there. He was strong and fast, didn't need me there. What he needed was to play with passion, enthusiasm and intensity, the same tools he already possessed but didn't realize. All I did was show him a door, help him through and turned on a light.
I've had other guys that were the opposite. Too much fire and explosive passion and it needed to be reigned in a bit. Some guys get out there and the game is so emotional, things can get very intense. If a guy doesnt know how to channel it, damage will be done. Physically to himself, someone else and/or odds are very high of losing control. Also, when guy is only fueled by emotion, the mind is removed, and I want and need balance. The position I coach, in a lot of ways, is the QB of the D. My guys cannot be absolute maniacs (but I do kinda like when they potential to be a maniac) because they need to see things clearly, make particular calls and move the defense. If his mind is clouded with explosions and chaos, it wont work well. Balance. Calm in chaos. Knowing when to explode and when to play safe.
This is what coaching is for and this is 100% why I do it. I've been a part of teams that went 1-9 and teams that went 10-0... does losing suck? Absolutely. Is winning more fun? Obviously.
But the only thing I ever care to actually do is help guys improve and prepare them for the path. Football is just a tool we can use, temporarily, to teach fundamentals for life and add to the experience.
Thinking back to my HS days, without football, I couldn't even imagine who I would be today. The lessons I may have missed. Without the coaches I had, without the experiences with my friends and teammates on the practice fields... I don't know where else I would've learned them.
How about a few pics?