Getting To The Podium

February 15, 2010

The podium at the Olympics is a place where rewards collide with accomplishments. There is nothing like it. As an olympic athlete, reaching the podium and having a medal placed around your neck becomes a place of recognition that few rarely attain. The fulfillment of years of sacrifice culminates in your name and country going into the record books for the ages. But what is the cost of getting to that pinnacle? For some, just getting to the podium is not enough; it must be the highest spot-the gold medal spot-to be considered a success. As we have approached the area of failing as a coach and an athlete, we must examine the cost of failure and what it means for one’s future endeavors and challenges in life. Dealing with the failure of one moment, especially at the Olympics, can be paralyzing to a world-class athlete.  The bitterness of defeat can leave a bad taste that can last forever. A radio broadcast from Feb 8, 1992 caught our attention.   The link below leads you to the page where it is archived. Listen to the perspective of previous Olympians, and, as a coach, consider once more the cost of setting the podium as the ultimate goal and the possibility of disappointing circumstances that keep that goal out of reach.

Select the link below, and then select the radio broadcast number 2 about Olympic disappointments on the page. You need about 7.5 minutes to listen to it in its entirety.

http://archives.cbc.ca/sports/olympics/topics/1341/

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“Why?”

February 13, 2010

Imagine being Nodar Kumaritashvili’s coach! Nodar is the young luge athlete from the Republic of Georgia who was involved in a fatal accident at the 2010 Winter Olympics yesterday. How would you process these moments during your life? As we have thought about failure, the above picture has caught our attention such as it is similar in posture to previous posts. It does not represent failure as much as grief and shock. One young athlete with so much enthusiasm for doing well at the world’s greatest sports venue has his life taken from him. This picture portrays his father, David Kumaritashvili, sharing a private moment with Nodar’s friends outside his home in Georgia.  What would you say to them? What answers can a coach, who is supposed to have all the answers for his/her athletes, give during a tragic event like this?  It is at these moments that a coach does not have the answers but must trust in the ONE who does. As finite beings, we are limited in our knowledge and understanding, but, in this kind of difficult circumstance,  answers do not come through having knowledge; instead, these are moments of truth when we must trust instead of trying to have an “answer.”  Not discounting  knowledge of our sport, let’s also be coaches who live out our faith so that we can be there for our athletes in times of tragedy and loss.


“If Your Bat Breaks, Keep Swinging!”

February 11, 2010

“My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging”
-Hank Aaron


“Five Rules of Being Human”

February 11, 2010

The Super Bowl has come and gone with a victor and a loser in the W-L column. The Olympics now loom on the horizon. Each of these competitive events contains elements that can be considered failure at some point. Not taking home a gold medal can be considered a failure . Throwing an interception can be considered as failure. Falling on the ice can be seen as letting down an entire country. Not making the tackle becomes fodder for the armchair quarterback.

As we explore this topic of failure, one of our readers sent in these “Rules of Being Human.”  Take a look.

Rule #1:     You will learn lessons.

Rule #2:     There are no mistakes – only lessons.

Rule #3:      A lesson is repeated until it is learned. (Unless you don’t care)

Rule #4:      If you don’t learn the easy lessons, they get harder.

Rule #5:     You’ll know you’ve learned a lesson when your actions change.

Coaches have the responsibility of  helping their athletes not only deal with success but also with overcoming failure. This lesson may not be learned best by winning  but by helping them see loss as a gain. Is this possible? It is not only possible; it’s a must! Coaches must model this in their own response to a loss or a moment of failure if they expect their athletes to do the same. We all have these points in our lives, yet we continue to judge success based only on wins and losses. One pertinent definition of success is “the favorable or prosperous termination (ending) of an endeavor or attempt.”  Does this mean the Indy Colts are failures as coaches and players? Are the New Orleans players and coaches the only successful ones? Is the W-L column the deciding factor here?

The above picture is a powerful statement about how to live life because our failures should not define us. If we are not  building our own character as well as helping others build theirs, then we are failing because we are not building something that will last beyond  our lifetimes. As humans we were created to represent and live out success in ways that  do not show up in the final stats. How are you defining and modeling “success”?


“An Incessant Seeker”

January 23, 2010

A coach’s schedule is so demanding that priorities must dictate how that individual uses his or her time to meet all the demands of life. In trying to become more informed about the 2010 NFL final four football coaches, we read about Coach Jim Caldwell, and realized that he is a man who cares about people. He is known to talk to everyone in the locker room about everything from physical ailments to family details. When a coach takes time to talk to every person associated with that team, you might wonder if they will be a winning coach. The proof is in the pudding with the Indy Colts this year under Caldwell’s leadership. He also is quite a reader and constantly seeking to draw on the wisdom of others. Books are a mainstay of the content in his office. Reading about sleep habits, jet lag, and how probability theory affects one’s life are just some of the areas that Caldwell desires knowledge about. One of the main things that caught our attention though was that Jim Caldwell reads his Bible first thing when he arrives at the office every morning between 5 and 6 am. This truly tells us that his priorities are in proper order. A coach who begins his day like this with a demanding schedule that comes with being in this profession has disciplined his or her life to  be a person of character. That may explain why resting players for the playoffs and seeking a berth in the Superbowl were bigger issues than having a chance at a perfect season. Criticism reigned down on him for making that decision but truly he was sticking with his plan for the bigger picture. Coach Caldwell’s example to us should cause us to evaluate our priorities for every day and set out to change our personal lives in order to be successful as an individual of character.


“Time To Go Home”

January 20, 2010

When a coach retires, people who have been influenced by him or her share how that individual helped to shape their lives. TCC has reflected recently upon the career of Coach Bobby Bowden as he stepped down as head coach of the Florida State Seminoles. Our attention was directed to a statement that he made in an interview recently when Coach Bowden said that he wanted to be remembered as a man who “did it the right way”. A former player on one of his FSU teams, Derrick Brooks said, “His longevity speaks for itself. Coaching generations of players from grandfathers to fathers to sons. A lot of people don’t get the chance to do that. When you start to think about Coach Bowden that way, you really appreciate his greatness. … When you look at Coach Bowden, you see integrity, a winning tradition and a coach who did it the right way. With everything that’s going on in college football now, you’re going to miss that consistency.” What a compliment!!! His W-L record is not what was touted but his integrity. That is what the coaching realm is all about. Are you able to leave your career as a coach with former players speaking of you like Brooks, a Tampa Bay Bucs star speaks of Coach Bowden? In order to win 388 games and last 43 years as a coach, your life has to have things set in order. The Fellowship of Christian athletes has even named an annual national award after him. The National Bobby Bowden Award, which honors one college football player for their achievements on the field, in the classroom and for his conduct as a “faith model” in the community is a signature of what Coach Bowden believed in. Nominees must have a 3.0 GPA or better and must also have the backing of his school’s athletic cirector and head football coach. The award is presented each year prior to the Bowl Championship Series” national title game and from all that has been written about him, those qualitities were ones that he desired for his players. The following remark sums up the order of priorities his life has taken over the years. After Coach Bowden had fielded many questions at his last press conference after the 2010 Gator Bowl game, Ann Bowden, wife of Bobby Bowden of 60 years, walked up to him and said: “Time to go home, honey.”  She gave him a kiss and hug and the crowd applauded. In walking away from this position as a coach, TCC also applauds a man who has set the bar very high for the rest of those who aspire to be a great coach.


“Strike 2 and 3”

January 18, 2010

Per a report from The Associated Press, Jose Offerman, manager of the Licey Tigers, was banned for life from the Dominican Winter Baseball League today after striking an umpre with his fist. This incident was the second one in which Offerman has “attacked” someone on the baseball field. He has been an all-star player in MLB so he has plenty of experience between the lines. TCC supports the President of the Dominican League, Leonardo Matos Berrido, for taking this action because as a coach your actions set an example for all who participate and also for those who sit in the stands. A new approach to coaching must be adopted where we recognize the responsibility of leading a team and commit to be coaches of character as well as wins. We salute The Domincan League and hope that professional baseball will follow suite in their realms of discipline.