27 April 2009

Check yourself...

I'm a coach, and a teacher of kids, and it's something I take very seriously. I didn't think that was the way it would work out, as strayed as far from the position of role model as I could have. My goal was to stay off the radar, do my job and have my fun- kids had parents at home that should be their role models- Charles Barkley was right (about not being a role model, not about needing a dirty headshot so badly you get your drunk ass in the sled, get a DUI and tell the fucking cops you needed a blowjob...still stuns me he has a job- horray TNT!)...but as i have gotten older, my desire to be a role model hasn't increased, and at my core i still believe in the concept of plausible deniability, but I have realized that, despite my best efforts, my students do watch what I do, and sometimes that makes me happy, and sometimes it makes me sad...

...we just returned from the state tournament, and as a squad, we had an excellent weekend, with almost all the students advancing to elimination rounds and winning awards, had teams in the quarters and semis and had students place second, sixth and ninth in the state. This seems like something to be joyous about, but in each instance, when i saw and spoke with the students about their accomplishments, they all were happy about their accomplishments, but were also frustrated with not winning...

...when i took this job a few years ago, there was no frustration when students didn't do well, it just seemed they were expecting to not succeed. It was infuriating at the beginning that students were just happy to win occasionally, and they seemed to not care at all when they lost. This was the first culture i needed to change, i needed to change from a culture of failure to a culture of success. my problem is that i didn't really know what success was when i tried to create a culture of success. to me success was pretty easily determined- if you won, you were successful. It never occured to me that it would be possible to have success in a world where you weren't winning...being the researching type of dork that i am, i decided to start reading and consuming as much information about coaching as i could. Bill Walsh. Red Auerbach. Tommy Lasorda. John Wooden. The Wizard of Westwood provided me more information than i could possibly have consumed. it seemed everything i read from him seemed to help me conceptualize things differently. It's at this point I read this quote from Wooden:

"
Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming."

Despite this being one of the most ackwardly worded statements i've heard in a long time, it pretty much summarizes what success should be measured by- the measurement needs to be did you do all you could do to do the best you could? If you did, you were successful, and if you didn't, you weren't successful. It became obvious to me it was not only possible to be successful without winning, but that most success is truly gained in the journey and in what it is you do to prepare yourself. And as i read more and more about Wooden, i began to realize something- it seemed he never spoke in terms of winning and losing. it seemed that Wooden believed if you did your due diligence, and you prepared to the best of your abilities and tried your hardest, that you were successful, despite the wins and losses. My students work as hard as any students I've ever had the honor to work with, and I feel like I did them a disservice by forcing my hyper-competitiveness upon them under the guise of success. It kills me to know that a student who placed second in the state could walk away with anything but smiles and pride, but i don't know if he does. It killed me inside to see my senior, sitting over by herself after losing the semis, and when i went to talk to her, she voiced her frustration to losing in the semifinals. I explained to her she had nothing to be upset/frustrated about, and it's awesome to get as far as they did...and i don't think she believed me, becasue for a long time, actually most of my coaching career, i wouldn't have believed it myself, but i also wouldn't have said it, either...

...we all grow, even me, as surprising as that is- if you think you're surprised, imagine how i feel...

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