Last spring, I along with Principal Minnig and two Wapakoneta coaches, had the opportunity to attend the Inside Out Initiative sponsored by the NFL and hosted by the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) and the Cincinnati Bengals. The initiative is gathering steam across the country to put the coaching focus on transforming lives rather than the win at all costs attitude. The presentation we attended was an introduction to the program. While we are just in the beginning stages of talking about the initiative, many valuable questions were posed that allow us to refocus on why it is we do what we do. Here are a few of them:
Why do I coach?
Coaching can, at least at times, be a thankless profession. There is no question the pay is very minimal for the time and energy our coaches spend working on the game they love. While the specific answer to this question lies within each individual coach, my observations of Wapakoneta coaches give me a broad understanding as to why they coach: to interact positively with student-athletes, to be a part of and share their love for their game, and to build a sense of community within the school and community for the sport. Our coaches do not coach to see their name in the paper or to serve themselves, but rather they do it because they genuinely care for the athletes and the game. Of course our coaches plan, practice and prepare to win each and every game – but it is not their purpose.
Why do I coach the way I do?
Take a moment to think back to some of your coaches as a youngster. Most coaches, at least in the beginning, coach the way they were coached – for better or worse. Those coaches who had great influences as a kid will likely use those positive experiences in their own coaching. The most effective coaches continually learn how to best interact with all athletes, parents, fans and colleagues with whom they encounter. The Inside Out Initiative is looking for transformational coaches rather than transactional. I can think back on my playing days fondly of many coaches I had. Some were better than others, but all added value to my life. Those coaches that I remember the most were those that built some sort of relationship with me, if only through asking questions about my life. Two of those coaches pointed me to the position I hold today, and although they may not have said it directly, they had an influence in my life; I would say they were transformational.
What does it feel like to be coached by me?
This question is not just for coaches as the question can be posed in many ways: What does it feel like to live with me? What does it feel like to work with me? What does it feel like to interact with me during daily activities? This question can be used to transform the lives of those you come into contact with, and also with yourself. This impactful, reflective question is one I hope all people ask themselves whether coaching (youth to professionals) or simply interacting in their everyday life. I’ve been around athletics long enough to know that you are not always going to please everyone. Parents and athletes are going to feel slighted with playing time and/or a multitude of other factors. Although not all athletes were created equal in ability, the best coaches realize that each athlete has something of value to add to the process in one way or another. The goal is find the value and use it for the betterment of the individual first and the team second.
How do I define success?
Northwest Ohio is one the greatest areas in Ohio for high school sports. Schools, fans and communities rally around the high school sports teams. The stress of winning has slowly started to filter down from the pro level to the college level and even to the high school level. Gone are the days of coaches coaching in one school for 20-30 years. You now see college coaches fired during the season, which was unheard of in the 1980’s. The turnover at the high school level is at an all time high. While I can’t say the turnover is entirely due to the pressure to win, it certainly has an effect. As I stated earlier, our coaches plan, prepare and practice to win, but it is not our purpose. If our focus remains that our successes are a part of a process to transform lives, everything else will take care of itself. The great coach John Wooden said it this way, “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.”
The Inside Out Initiative at Wapakoneta is in its infancy stages. While some of our coaches have no knowledge of the program at all, I truly feel that our coaches all want to transform lives and they truly care about student-athletes, their families, and our community. I am proud to be a part of what our Wapakoneta coaches are doing with our student-athletes.
Wapakoneta City Schools