SportsLeader is a virtue-based mentoring and motivation program for coaches. This blog shares stories from coaches all over the country transforming lives. For more information contact Lou Judd -

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

When Your Assistant Coaches Turn the Corner

One of the most rewarding experiences of SportsLeader is watching your assistant coaches "get it". That's when things really start to get fun.

Having a staff moving full speed ahead is a powerful witness for your players. Your actions as a group speak much louder than your words ...


By Dan Duddy
Head Football Coach Toms River NJ Monsignor Donovan HS
Speaker at 2010 and 2011 Character Building Clinics

There is no nicer scenery than looking at our football practice field right after we “close out” our practice.  There are ten separate conversations taking place between an assistant coach and a player. They stand informally anywhere from 20 to 100 yards apart from each other. Some will sit down on the ground as if they are sharing a picnic lunch, while other pairs will walk slowly and aimlessly perhaps while flipping a football lightly up in the air. Couple this with the pastels of the setting of another soft sun, the exhilaration of a good hard practice under our belts, and the lingering haze of airborne dust as the rest of team staggers off the gridiron ...

What’s most exhilarating is the willingness of my assistant coaches to “man-up” to mentoring, amazingly they have become intrigued by it, and I am so pleased with it. I am 54 years old, and most of my staff is close to half my age. I have seen them grow in leaps and bounds as they have “flexed courage”, “crossed lines” and mentor young men to “a resolve to a specific action” daily for about three minutes a day. It has literally changed their lives, and they laugh, literally, at the thought that other coaches like them are hesitant of doing it, or feel that “they are doing enough already”, or they might say “yeah, yeah, we already do that”. But the fact remains though, they started it because I told them, “this is what we do here.” Now, they can’t picture coaching any sport without it.

These coaches, some of them being ex-players of mine, others players that I had the horror of coaching against, could line up today and knock your helmet off. They played the game their way. They were unique individuals and tough competitors. They were typical kids as they got away with whatever they could, and they tested the waters.     Slowly they would find out what was right and wrong, what was compromising, and what a positive catalyst was, and yes they found all this without mentoring. But it took so long to find these things on their own, and some of their team mates are dead.

Dead.  And so are some of your team mates. Either physically or in spirit, and you know that. Maybe you escaped a spiritual death because of a coach. Maybe you chose to not drink one night because of something a coach said. Maybe that car hit a tree that you might have been otherwise driving in.

“Joe” is on my staff, a tough defensive back that played against my team in 2001. He had never mentored a kid in his life. After our very last staff meeting last season, Joe came to me with tears in his eyes thanking me for the opportunity to mentor kids. He said “I found out things about my own manhood that I never would have known otherwise”.
All of my coaches mentor, if it were “something that everyone else does” then trust me, they wouldn’t be doing it. It takes a very unique coach, “a real coach,” to mentor, the kind of guy that would knock a helmet off, the kind of coach that we want our players to be. We want our players to “step out of the box” and be special.

Our players are a reflection of their coaches. Our coaches’ reflections are in their mirrors.

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