Welcome back to The Culture Factory where I discuss strategies to build a championship culture. In this edition of The Factory, we will look at what it means to “Coach Beyond the Game”.
In this ‘Factory’ I was planning on continuing my five-part series on systems for program development, but it has been a crazy couple of weeks for me; at North Forney we hosted a powerlifting meet, we hosted a THSCA regional meeting (475 in attendance), a signing day where we had 8 players sign to play college football, and finally yesterday I attended the Texas High School Coaches Association’s Leadership Conference in San Antonio where I was awarded the Grant Teaff ‘Coaching Beyond the Game’ award.
I had to prepare an acceptance speech for the award so as my mind shifted back to TCF I realized what a great topic this would be. In the next Factory we will get back to program systems, but now we should all ask ourselves – are we coaching beyond the game?
COACHING BEYOND THE GAME
First of all, to say this is a big deal to me would be my biggest understatement of all time. In my opinion, I graciously think this is one of the highest honors a coach in Texas can receive because it is about what really matters which is helping young people become better citizens. While we all want to win and winning gives us a voice, to have the Texas High School Coaches Association recognize what we are doing at North Forney to change the culture and help grow young people is truly humbling.
I was given 10 minutes to talk about why it is important to ‘Coach Beyond the Game’ and how we attack it so I knew I had to be specific and concise. I decided to share three points with my audience and I will share them with you in this edition of TCF.
I. COACHING CAN’T BE ABOUT WINS
If you are coaching to win games you will never win enough. We are all infected with the ‘human condition’ which means we always want more. We have all read stories of Nick Saban or Bill Belichick saying how they are already planning for the next season on the plane ride home from winning a championship! It’s just how we are wired. The book of Ecclesiastes talks about Soloman who is described as the wisest and richest man to ever live. Soloman spent years trying to spend enough money, have a large enough concubine and throw enough feasts to be satisfied. He couldn’t do it, God wired us this way.
If you are coaching to reach a certain win total you will always want it to grow. I would hate to retire one day and have it said, ‘he won a lot of games, but I’m not sure he won a lot of hearts or made any of his players better people.’
When I was a younger coach I spent all my time and focus on the tangible things that are fleeting. How strong can we get them? How much faster can we get them? How can we make sure we are the best tackling team? All of these things are fleeting. Even your athletes who are lucky enough to play at the collegiate level will still not need most athletic skills we taught them after the age of 22. While our teams must be strong, fast and good tacklers it can’t be 100% of our focus.
I have coached all over the state of Texas and my name is on a few gold ball trophies…big deal. I am proud of all the championships I have been a part of but I hope that is not the main legacy I left in these towns.
II. WE HAVE TO HELP RAISE THEM
The average parent spends 2.5 minutes a day in meaningful conversation with their children. 2 and 1/2 minutes. This means they spend more time grooming themselves than they do raising their kids. I have been guilty of this also with my own children. It is so easy to come home after a long day and it in a recliner and ‘veg’ in front of the television set. As a coach or even a teacher, we get them for much longer and we must seize this opportunity.
I respect school districts that really focus on relationships and their only goal isn’t college prep, technology, and test scores. Relationships should be the #1 goal as educators or leaders of any organization. Some people have confused what type of relationship this should be. What our players need is a parent to child and not peer to peer relationship. We are not here to be their friend, they have enough of those on Twitter and Instagram. We talk often at North Forney about our players ‘laying in traffic’ for the coaches, but we do not do this with being their friend. We do it with spending time with them helping to raise them.
III. IT IS A DAILY FIST-FIGHT
North Forney football is a leadership academy that happens to play football. We tell our parents this at every parent meeting and we back it up. We have a systematic process we use to instill character, values, and leadership (in the last Factory I discussed this at length, but it was part of my acceptance speech yesterday so I will include the outline of it here also).
1. We stand in front of our team every day and teach a character or leadership lesson.
2. We put them in small, ‘family’ groups and that is led by one of our coaches and allow our guys to discuss the lesson further.
3. We give them homework most every night. We have a closed Facebook group where our players have to post a quote, picture or thought about the day’s lesson.
Here is an example of how we do it at NF: Last week I taught a two-day lesson on body language and eye contact. I presented to not only the football team but the soccer, baseball and basketball teams also. I used a couple of videos of Geno Auriemma, John Calipari, and George St. Pierre that was mixed in with teaching about the how body language and eye contact communicates so much more than the words we say, etc. That evening I texted our guys and told them to post a picture of a player with bad body language on our Facebook page. They must post an ‘original’ quote or picture and can’t use one someone else has already posted so they are learning to move quickly. The ones who complete the assignment get a point for their ‘goon team’ and the ones who don’t bear crawl the next day.
We have a culture at North Forney but it’s not because we have signs on the wall. We have a culture we are building because we believe in the daily fist-fight of mentor coaches being intentional with helping raise our student-athletes.
I love coaches and I love being a coach. No other profession can you say to a group of young people to “hit a knee” and they will do it. The bank president or the owner of the car dealership can’t get this done…it is a big deal!
In closing, a LEADER PROVIDES HOPE. If you are a leader make sure the hope you provide isn’t just to win games. Make sure you are helping raise them by pouring into them daily. Our parents aren’t doing it and our society needs us more than ever.
We are COACHING BEYOND THE GAME at North Forney…won’t you join us?
“A good coach can change a game, a great coach can change a life.” John Wooden
“A coach will impact more young people in a year than the average person does in a lifetime.” Billy Graham
“The best coaches really care about people. They have a sincere interest in people.” Byron Pulsifer