I started the day today the first day of my 45th year of coaching with a dryland session with the Sarasota Sharks at 4:55 AM. I began coaching in January 1969 (An El Niño year of near record rainfall – 40 plus inches, fortunately we had just gotten a new asphalt track so we never missed a workout. Amazing what 440 yards of bad road can enable you to do when you don’t know any better) at Santa Barbara high school in Santa Barbara California my hometown. It has been a long and rewarding journey, as in any journey there have been detours, ups and downs and bumps in the road along the way but for better or for worse I have done it my way on my own terms. The biggest satisfaction has come not from the championships and records but from the people, the incredible coaches and athletes I have been so fortunate to work with and learn so much from. I am so blessed to have a wife who has supported me all these years and my children who often had to share dad with a whole bunch of other kids. Over the past several years my coaching role has evolved to an emphasis on mentoring through my GAIN professional development network although I still continue do hands on coaching. I think it is very important to keep “skin in the game” as they say, if you don’t actively coach you can quickly lose touch with waht coaching is about. I am looking forward to continuing the journey, to continue to teach and learn and help young athletes reach their potential.
Here are the biggest differences I see from 1969:
- In 1969 there was mandatory daily physical education from kindergarten through twelfth grade. This insured that the athletes had a foundation of basic physical literacy.
- Off-season football training was competing in track or playing baseball, more athletes did multiple sports.
- Parents were interested and supportive not involved and over invested.
- There were no recruiting services or showcases tournaments. Kids PLAYED sport for the intrinsic value not to get scholarships or pro contracts.
- Sport was centered in the schools and the coaches were teachers
I am often asked if kids have changed? I am not sure that the kids have changed as much as our expectations of them has changed. I know I have the same expectations of the athletes that work today that I did forty-five years ago I just have to do it differently. I have adjusted without lowering my expectations. There are things that I thought mattered in 1969 like dress codes and hair length that I now know don’t matter, they are superficial, what matters is the person and how I can motivate them to want to achieve their potential. The journey continues . . .