I have been fortunate enough to play for some tremendous coaches throughout my basketball career, and they have all taught me a variety of skills and lessons in their own respective ways. I have played for almost every style of coach imaginable: the screamer, the perfectionist, the cheerleader, and the stickler for fundamentals and sportsmanship. While reflecting upon the leaders who all relayed valuable lessons to me in a multitude of ways, I started to ponder what exactly makes a coach great. I came across a list of qualities that make a coach effective on “The Layups Blog” that I found quite interesting:
Great coaches are leaders who are have integrity and honor.
A great coach knows that character counts and teaches this by example.
They lead by building relationships with people.
They recognize the potential in others and inspire development.
They have drive, believe in excellence, and organize their lives accordingly.
They affirm, encourage, and have a positive attitude with those they coach.
They rise to the occasion, adapt when necessary, and strive to overcome obstacles.
They are organized, disciplined, and focused. They assist others to be the same.
They are hard workers; they pull up their sleeves and work alongside their athletes.
They think outside of the box.
They foster an environment of change and adaptation for accelerated growth.
They believe in education and learning as a continuous process throughout their life.
A great coach loves coaching and lets the world know about their passion.
A successful coach knows their own methodology, belief system, principles, and system and do not back down from it. A great coach never apologizes for doing what he knows is right, good, and correct. Never.
I certainly could apply these qualities to every coach I’ve played for, however, as I began to analyze each quality, I couldn’t help but think that my current boss embodies and personifies every attribute on this list.
Six years ago I decided to leave my job for a teaching position at a school that was a mere five minutes away from my home. I remember sitting down with my boss and explaining to him that the two hour commute to and from work was taking its toll on my wallet and my well-being. He did his best to discourage me from leaving, but my mind was already made up. While he was disappointed, he wished me luck, and we went our separate ways.
I started my new job, and after a week, I found myself pining for my former job. I made the hour trek down to my old school for a basketball game, and luckily for me, my boss was in attendance.
“How’s it going? I’m happy to see you,” he said
I replied, “I absolutely hate it.”
“Do you want to come back? We’d love to have you,” he responded.
Needless to say, I was thrilled to hear him utter those two sentences. I returned to my position the following school year, and that two hour commute was one that I was more than willing to drive because I knew I was traveling to work for a man who truly valued me as a person and as an educator.
Recently, I faced some personal challenges that my boss helped to coach me through; in my battle to defeat my perfectionist nature, he said to me, “You’re in a one-on-one battle with yourself.”
That simple sports analogy was the inspiration for The Crossover, and while it may seem like I’m “kissing up” to my boss, I’m quite simply trying to say thank you. Being a high school principal has to be one of the toughest coaching jobs that exists in the professional world, yet he does it with pure enthusiasm and aplomb. He has fostered a love for education in me, and he makes me strive to be the most effective teacher that I can be every single day. More importantly, however, he has provided me with support and perspective. For that, I consider him to be my most valuable and efficacious coach, and I am proud to count him as my mentor in this unpredictable game of life.