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The Power Of Your Coaching BeliefsMonday, January 11th, 2016

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

Every morning, within 5 minutes of waking up, I read my beliefs about coaching.

Most times that means even before I get out of bed.

I recorded those beliefs years ago. I did so in response to the quickly changing landscape of college coaching, evolutions in athletes and their morphing expectations, and the increased pressure to be successful in won/loss more than developmental/instructional.

I found I was being impacted by those things — not in a good way.

I would tweak my beliefs to each situation, changing my actions to best get through the day.

Compromise is one thing, but this was different. I constantly felt like I was being forced to give in. It was exhausting, mentally and physically.

A Mirror

I’ll share my beliefs in a moment, but first, let’s hold a mirror up to you.

What do you believe about coaching?

Could you, this moment, write down 10, or 5, or even 3 things that you truly believe about your coaching?

If you were to record those beliefs in solitude would they be the same beliefs you would say to an interviewer on national TV?

The Elephant In The Room

Here’s a thought … imagine an elephant. A big gray one.

On top of him sits a driver.

They’ve known each other for years. Every morning the driver gets on the elephant and they go to work — moving the heavy objects they were hired to move.

During the day the elephant may want to stray from his work, but the driver, being mindful of the day’s chores, keeps the elephant on track.

In our case, the driver is what we believe, and the elephant is our actions. Your beliefs guide you and your actions during your day.

For instance:

  • If you believe athletes should be treated with respect — you will expect them to do the same to each other, and you
  • If you believe in playing by the rules — you will not tolerate cheating
  • If you believe family over winning — the personal schedule you create will reflect it

See, belief then action. With me, years ago, I found I had my beliefs but I hadn’t let them rise to the surface. So I had a driver, but I just didn’t know he was there.

And because of that, we often had battles.

My coaching experience changed significantly (and positively) once I determined and acknowledged my beliefs. Today the elephant and I get along much better.

How to Find Your Beliefs

This was not straightforward for me. First, I didn’t know I needed to do it. For years I just stumbled along.

Second, when I realized I need to articulate what my coaching beliefs were I didn’t have a clue how to proceed. Most things I believe were given to me by my family, or school, or society as a whole — but coaching? No one I knew was a coach, so no help there.

And my friends and family, nice as they are, were no help either.

I finally resorted to a process of trial and error. I would:

  • think on the belief (for example: importance of winning)
  • write it down
  • try the belief
  • then adapt it, if necessary

That was it, four simple action. It has seemed to work. All the while, I was reading as many helpful books as I could, such as:

My Beliefs

I hesitate slightly to share these not because they are personal, rather I worry someone may choose one of these beliefs when it’s not right for them. Regardless:

  1. I believe as coaches we are a critical part of society.
  2. I believe as coaches we are often misunderstood, under supported, undervalued, and never fully prepared. (That’s why I took action and wrote this book).
  3. I believe that the job of being a coach is changing rapidly.
  4. I believe an important part of my coaching should be to guide, protect, and nurture.
  5. I believe as coaches we must invest heavily in my personal and professional development.

Action You Can (And I Believe You Should) Take

Now it’s your turn. This may be a review for you, or new territory. Either way, it will have an impact:

  1. Record 3-5 things you believe about coaching
  2. Each morning for 7 days read them to yourself. Out loud is best
  3. Each evening, find a little solitude and ask yourself, “Were my beliefs challenged? Did my beliefs drive my actions?”
  4. Did you meet people who were not in-line with your beliefs? If so, how did you navigate the situation?
  5. After 7 days, review your beliefs, and ask yourself this question, “Do I still believe them?”

— — —

I’m grateful we have an opportunity to discuss important parts of our coaching, like this. Write me back and tell me about your beliefs. Its how we improve.

Until next time, coach well. We need you!


How College Coaches Control The Future Of SpecializationSunday, October 11th, 2015

wayneby Wayne Mazzoni, Pitching Coach, Sacred Heart University

I hope all college coaches reading this agree with this statement: The specialization of young athletes is an epidemic we must take part in changing.

To do this, let’s look at the facts and trends. Over the past 15 years there has been a strong movement by people/coaches to make a living from their sport. These are generally well meaning people who enjoy coaching young people, but in an effort to make a living doing what they do, try to get their pool of kids to pay for their coaching services not only in their primary season, but in as many off-seasons as possible. Some of these coaches give priority attention and playing time to their best customers and thus creating an environment where others feel they need to do the same to keep up. In addition, often times these coaches tell their players and parents that not only is playing their sport for two, three, sometimes four seasons is the only way to develop to play in college, but that this is what college coaches want!

So we are left with young athletes and their parents not knowing any better any who think the only way to develop, and in fact keep up, is to narrow their focus on what they spend their time doing. But this is completely contrary to the way we were all raised. It is also completely contrary to raising a healthy, physically and emotionally balanced child. Worse yet, it also seems to put a focus on the future and making that sport seem like an “investment”. It is not an investment. It is a fun, competitive way for children to grow as people. If an 8 year old is hitting baseballs all winter so his parents get rewarded with his recruiting or a scholarship down the road, then we have completely lost our minds. Plenty of other things for a kid to do in the winter. Wrestle, play basketball, ski, walk in the woods with his dog, you name it. If he loves baseball he can find the time to hit or play a day or two a week during the winter and still be involved in other things.

I am not telling anyone how to live, trust me. I am still figuring out live like everyone else. But I do know when I hear a nine year old only play soccer all year round, give up family time, friend time, to devote to this one sport, this one endeavor, I feel like I’m living on Mars. I just don’t get it.

This concept seems to continue in high school. Kids who either would like to play two or three sports start getting the message that to be really good you have to spend time on just one sport. Most of us know better. We know that the more sports you play, the more skills you build, that will help you be a better overall athlete and better in your primary sport.

As college coaches, I think it is our duty to let all people we come in contact with, whether it be at coaches clinics, speeches, during recruiting, or even around the office, it is important we let everyone know how we feel. Recently helping coach my son’s 6th grade football team I saw the older brother of one of our players. Big kid, great shape. He was a very good high school football player. But when I asked him how the season was going, he said he gave up football (as a hs junior) to play fall lacrosse. He said he was getting attention from the lacrosse coach at my school (Sacred Heart University). So I said to the kid, “Do you think Coach Basti would rather you play lax or football this fall?” The kid replied that obviously the coach would want him to be playing lacrosse. Having had this conversation with many of my fellow coaches, across many sports, I went on to tell the kid that I was 100% sure that coach would prefer him to play football and told him all the reasons why. He was floored and said he would give it a second thought.

When I ask the players on my college baseball team if they have any regrets about their sports experience, to a man, they always tell me they wish they had not given up playing another sport when they were in high school. They realized later that this is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and you don’t get to even play high school basketball again when you get older.

While I am a big public school proponent, this is one of the things I love about private/prep schools. Many of them in New England require athletes to play three sports, thus making them well rounded as people, teammates, and athletes. Often times you hear about a kid who did something he never did before and loved it. We have a freshman pitcher on my team now who went to Canterbury School and had to pick up diving to meet this requirement. He said he went into it pretty skeptical but came out loving the whole experience.

Let’s do our part to let all our recruits, friends, family, and community know that believe kids should play multiple sports. If not formally on their school teams, then pick up a golf club, tennis raquet, or even bike or skate board and do something athletic outside of what they plan on doing their four years in college. Specialization will come soon enough, why rush it?

Wayne Mazzoni is the pitching coach at Sacred Heart University and writes his blog at www.CoachMazz.com


by Erika Brennan, National Recruiting Coordinator

The coaching world is extremely dynamic – one in which no two days are ever exactly alike. It’s probably what drew many of you in to coaching – the ability to impact young people for the better using your respective sports as the vehicle for change.

Pat yourself on the back, coach! You pour in to the young people that fill your roster on a daily basis (I’ll spot you the mandatory day off per week on your CARA logs). Indeed, it seems that a coach’s job is never done – never completely caught up.

Here’s the question though: As you continue to help shape the direction of the young lives on your teams, who is helping to shape you?

It is so easy to become consumed in helping others that we forget we need help too.

Who is pouring in to you, and your development both personally and professionally?

A mentor is sorely needed for us who choose to embrace this ever-evolving world of college athletics.

The tricky part is in finding the right one:

  • One who strikes the perfect balance between guiding you and challenging you.
  • One that knows when to push you past the limits you created in your mind, and one that knows when to metaphorically put their arm around you and tell you, “It’s going to be ok.”
  • And most importantly – One that has walked a mile in your shoes but knows that there are many routes to the same destination.

Yes, these precious few mentors are not a dime a dozen, and unfortunately they don’t wear a stickered name tag that says, “Hello My Name is….And I’m The Perfect Mentor.”

There are, however, a few ways to get out there and find the mentorship that you desperately need.

LOOK AROUND: Consider your current network and mentally make a list of people you want to emulate. Perhaps it’s a peer who is wildly successful on the playing surface. Maybe it’s somebody in administration – if that is your long-term goal. It can even be somebody outside of college athletics. Remember, It’s easy to be successful; the challenge comes in doing so in the right ways. What’s important is to take in to account the personal values these people have – and chose wisely based on those values.

ASK: This is undoubtedly the hardest part. The trick is to understand that you can ask without using words. By building up a relationship over time, you can create a mentor for yourself without ever coming out and explicitly asking. A simple “I’d love to pick your brain later this week and get your thoughts on an issue I’m having,” is a wonderful place to start. From there, the mentorship can evolve organically.

FOSTER: Once you’ve gotten a few exchanges under your belt, and you feel that there is worth and vale in the relationship, don’t let it die on the vine. Most people in a position to mentor are busy – after all, it’s their success and hard work that drew you to them in the first place. In the early stages, you may need to fight for it to gain traction. Continue asking questions and seeking advice, sure, BUT also make sure you are prepared and able to offer commentary of value when probed. A mentor-mentee relationship is just that. It’s give and it’s take.

A strong mentor makes all the difference. It gives you a sounding board and creates an ally. It gives you permission to push past the barriers you created in your mind– and it allows you a safe place to both test and challenge new ideas. The byproducts of a mentorship are limitless – who knows, you may even come away with a dear friend.

Do you have a mentor? If not, what’s stopping you? If you do, what is the next evolution in the relationship – how can you begin to add value reciprocally?

**I’d love to hear from you on this or any other topic as it relates to the world of college coaching, email me at erika@dantudor.com, and let’s chat**


5 Ways To Ensure A Steady Pipeline Of Leadership On Your TeamMonday, February 2nd, 2015

by Erika Brennan, National Recruiting Coordinator

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just put a “WANT Ad for Team Captains” out in the classifieds of the theoretical team newspaper?

Certainly, then we would have our pick among those eager respondents who have had previous training, right?


Calm, level-headed, essentially flawless, coach seeks team captain.

Must be able to (at age 19-22 by the way)

  • Conduct themself with maturity 100% of the time
  • Be professional and act as a conduit between myself and the rest of the team.
  • Must consistently (and by consistently I mean ALWAYS) demonstrate loyalty
  • May challenge decisions privately, tactfully, and most of all sparingly, but then MUST support my decisions in public.
  • Must lead by example – never letting up and never, ever faltering. EVER.
  • Must be a verbal leader, capable of deciding in a split second if a teammate needs to be pushed, pulled, or simply left alone.
  • Must possess the knowledge that the very next second that teammate may need something different, and adapt accordingly. SEAMLESSLY.


I write this satirically, of course, but let’s be honest here coaches …We do demand A LOT from those we place in positions of leadership on our teams.

What are you doing as a coach to ensure a steady pipeline of leadership within your program?

If you’re drawing a blank, or just don’t have it all mapped out, consider the following strategies:

  1. OBSERVE – Dig in and really take a look at the things happening before, during, and after practices. Look at things outside of traditional practice such as conditioning sessions, the athletic training room, and during team travel. You’re not doing anything other than “taking it all in” during this stage. Note those individuals who are quieter but are always doing the right things. Also note those who are more vocal and who the team naturally tends to rally around or follow.
  2. IDENTIFY – With your entire coaching staff, identify those student-athletes who are leading by example, those who are leading verbally, and the few who may do both. Don’t concern yourself with their class, position, whether they will likely be a starter, or anything else. Simply make a short list of those with potential to lead. NOTE: As you implement these strategies each season, you will begin identifying earlier and earlier. The goal is to accomplish this during a student-athlete’s freshman or sophomore year.
  3. ACKNOWLEDGE – Here’s where it gets fun! Acknowledge those from your list in Step 2. Bring them in and talk to each of them, 1 on 1, and lavish the praise. Tell them, specifically, why they stood out to you as somebody capable of being a team leader. ASK them if a position of leadership is something they aspire too? If you get a “no” keep them on the list and talk with them again in the future – everybody is ready to step up at different times.
  4. EQUIP – The most critical step in the entire process.   Create opportunities for learning. Consider a weekly discussion/training outside of normal team activities. Slowly dive in to issues they will face. Tell them how you would like for them to handle certain things. Solicit their input too; after all, you tabbed them for leadership based on how they were already going about their business. On larger rosters where there is more than 1 captain, discuss ways for the leaders to fill in each other’s weaknesses. This should be a conversation, not simply a lecture on the Do’s and Don’ts. NOTE: Take your time on this step; it’s perfectly fine if this training lasts an entire semester, or even year.  
  5. EMPOWER – This happens concurrently with step 4. Build up and support those who are learning to become the type of team leader you want them to be. Encourage their natural leadership styles and reward the behavior you want. Show them that you view mistakes as opportunities to refine their roles – use those mistakes as teachable moments. Acknowledge their efforts and victories publically in front of the team. Send a clear message that being a team captain is a position of honor. One that you invest in. One that you respect.

This isn’t the easy way, of course, but IT IS the way to sustain the type of leadership we all crave.

I challenge you, right now, to look at ways to implement these strategies. Who on your coaching staff will take the lead to get this off the ground?

Remember the life cycle of a student-athlete…What you do TODAY will affect your team culture for the next 4 years.

Be Brilliant!


This Is Important!Monday, January 12th, 2015

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

[This is part two in the series on effective persuasion for sport coaches]

You’re reading this, which means the title did exactly what I hoped it would do — it sparked your interest. And that’s exactly what effective sports coaches have to do — they have to spark people’s interest.

Why Sparking Interest Is Important

Persuading someone to take positive action is at the core of what coaches do. And it’s one of the hardest processes for a coach to master. Barking orders at an athlete and expecting positive action is unrealistic — especially today.

Shoot, it never really worked.

Today, once you’ve grabbed someone’s attention, you have to spark their interest to get the action you want.

From a little spark may burst a flame
– Dante

It’s a pivotal step. Here’s an example.

Jake had been playing left tackle all season. He’s done a good job, stayed healthy, and worked his way into a starting position. Now, due to injuries, you need Jake to switch to right tackle. He won’t start immediately, which will be tough for him, but he will once he has learned the position.

You’ve asked Jake to stop by your office, to discuss the switch. That is Step #1 in the persuasion process — you’ve got his attention. (BTW, if you ever ask an athlete to stop by your office without telling them why, rest assured, you WILL have her attention.)

Now for Step #2

The outcome of this meeting is critical:

  • for you
  • for the team
  • for Jake

Unfortunately, often coaches tell an athlete what to do and then assume that’s the end of story. But that was sooo yesterday. Today it’s different. Today it takes more to persuade.

Simply, it comes down to value.

Effective persuasion is convincing someone to take POSITIVE action. If Jake doesn’t find some value in taking the action, he won’t be committed to the task. Which means he might take action, but even if he does it might not be positive action. That could be the opposite of what you want, and for poor Jake, making the change is going to be challenging enough, but tougher still if his interest is not sparked and there is not value in it for him.

Sport leadership expert Jeff Janssen has constructed a commitment continuum which lends perspective. The greater the value for the team member, or in our case Jake, the further to the right on the scale he will be.


Try Mapping The Value

Focusing on Jake, how could you determine what he values?

Well, maybe his dream is to be the best left tackle in the conference. Or possibly he is the type of special athlete who dreams of sacrificing personal gain for the team’s best interest. If it’s the former, then the switch will fail. But if it is the latter, then things are looking much brighter.

How do you tell what the person on the other end of the conversation values? One way is to use an Empathy Map. Created by Dave Gray, at Xplane, Empathy Maps are a tool to get into the mind of another person. They help you:

see what they see
hear what they hear
feel what they feel

And with that knowledge you have a better understanding of what is of value to the other person. As Aaron Orendorff says,

it’s about entering the conversation that is already going on in a person’s heart

Your Turn

Time for a quick review.

  1. Persuasion, an important tool for a coach, is “convincing someone to take positive action
  2. There are four main steps to effective persuasion
  3. Step #1 Is Getting Someone’s Attention
  4. Step #2 Is Sparking Interest
  5. There are other ways to figure it out, but an Empathy Map is an excellent way to grasp what someone might value

As a coach, you’ll need the skill to persuade.

The more effective you are at that skill, the better coach you’ll be.

And as I started the conversation, This Really Is Important.

Featured Series: The ‘Miracle’ Behind Herb Brooks’s Miracle On IceMonday, August 25th, 2014

by Charlie Adams, StokeTheFireWithin.com

The 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team and their upset of the mighty Soviets on their way to Gold was named the greatest sports moment of the century. I will be writing regularly here on how coach Herb Brooks put together that team, his recruiting as a college coach, and lessons we can learn from him and the miracle on ice.

When Herb Brooks took over as head coach of the University of Minnesota hockey program in 1972, they were last place in their conference. They had gone 8-24 the year before he came aboard. He coached them to a 15-16-3 record in his first year and, get this, guided them to 3 NCAA D1 national championships in the next 7 years!

Although many college hockey powers got their players from Canada back in the 1970’s, Herb made the decision to recruit only Minnesota players. While they may not have had the skill, he recruited for toughness and loyalty. He also knew kids from Minnesota would care more about representing their state University.

In Ross Bernstein’s book, America’s Coach, Don Micheletti shares the story of when Herb was recruiting him. Herb first offered him a half scholarship. Don told Herb that Colorado College had offered him a full, but that playing for Minnesota meant so much he would take the half. Herb smiled and said he had a full scholarship for him the whole time but he wanted to see how badly Don wanted to be a Gopher. 

Herb was big on home visits. He watched carefully to see how players acted around their parents. Values. He wanted kids with values. He was big on kids that had been captains in high school. He was big on muscle as he liked his teams to have an intimidating feel to them.

Herb knew it would take a couple of recruiting classes to take the program to new levels, but from day one he told his current players they could learn to get tougher immediately.

In future articles here, I will share how he recruited and put together the 1980 Miracle on Ice team. For now, I will end with this story of one of the kids he recruited at Minnesota. The team had a stretch where Herb told the players there would be no going out and certainly no beer. A player named Jim Boo had a Dad who came to town. They decided to go out to a pub near the hotel for some brews. The waitress came over with a beer and said it was for Jim and paid for by a customer. Jim thought it had to be a pretty lady, as he was a good looking hockey player. Well, he looked across to the bar and there was Herb Brooks staring at him. Herb had a look that would go through you forever.

Jim gulped. Herb walked over and said he would see him at the rink at 6 am the next morning. For two hours, Herb skated Jim to the brink of annihilation. There was throw up all over the place. Finally, Herb skated over to the slumping player and said, “How’s that beer tasting now?”

Motivational Speaker Charlie Adams delivers his More Than a Miracle program to college coaches and athletes. He explains how the 1980 Miracle on Ice was not so much a miracle as it was work ethic, remarkable vision and leadership, commitment to change, commitment to team, and perseverance.
Charlie can be reached at StokeTheFireWithin.com and at charlie@stokethefirewithin.com

A Product Of The ProductSaturday, May 24th, 2014

by Tyler Brandt, National Recruiting Coordinator 

Have you ever looked at the pictures of the dogs that look just like their owners? What about when you look at your baby pictures versus your child’s baby pictures? Scientifically, a product refers to “the result of one or more multiplications”. What this means is when the original is multiplied, the result is separate but connected to the original. There is no getting away from that – a derivative of a product is a:

Product of the Product!

So the dog looks like the owner, the kids look like the parents and the new model resembles the old model…usually. This is almost always the case regardless of whether the result is good or bad, positive or negative. Invariably this is the situation in athletics. Look at a team and you will see an extension of the coach and the leadership. Look at an athlete and you see the teachings and the coaching of their mentors and coaches – it is inescapable!!!

I stepped on the scale this past Fall and unfortunately verified what I already knew – “ I was extremely overweight!” Tipping the scales at the most I had ever weighed, I decided it was time for a little reflection. I realized that EVEN WITH all of my scientific knowledge (BS & MS in Exercise Physiology) and practical knowledge (12 years as a successful wrestler and 25 years as a successful wrestling coach) I made the conscious decision to use the resources available to me by trying what the Olympians use and starting on a regimen of supplements. After 30 days I had seen results, but then I let my EGO get in the way of continued success. I told myself that “You can do this, you’re an Exercise Scientist and a former college athlete and coach – you got this – you don’t need ANY HELP so I stopped the promising program to do it myself. Two months later I had gained back the weight I had lost and vaulted to a new “Highest I Had Ever Weighed category.

Once again I decided to reflect and look at the results of doing things on my own versus doing things with assistance. The decision was easy, I chose to start another regimen of supplements but this time with a different caveat. This round I committed to 3 straight months on the program no matter what. The result was I lost 25 lbs, so I kept using the products and got to 30 lbs, then 35 lbs and now I am starring down the barrel of being 40 lbs lighter since January. What did I learn from this experience? First of all, consistency and commitment are crucial to success. Second, everything is a Product of the Product!

Athletes are a product of their coach, teams are a product of the collective athletes and both will represent what and who the coach is. For instance, if a coach places a team in a lower division to dominate the competition, they probably will dominate, but at what cost? The development of the athletes? The reputation of the coach? When those athletes need to compete against the top talent  the result will be – A Product of the Product – they will not be ready!

When I see someone that I haven’t seen in a while they all react the same way – “Wow, you have lost a ton of weight! What are you doing?” I let them know what I am doing to be successful in my goal to lose weight and become healthier. Now they’ll become a product of THEIR product. If they choose to make a change to what they have been doing they will see success and be a product of that change. If they choose to make excuses as to why they can’t or shouldn’t change – they WILL BE a product of that choice.

When you see athletes and coaches in interviews after winning National Championships, rarely do you hear selfish statements like “I was the one who made this happen – without me this would not have been possible – I want to Thank ME, MYSELF and I for having the courage to win this National Title for my team!”  What you hear is thank yous to the people who made that Championship possible! They are a product of a team atmosphere, of an open mind, of faith, of accepting help and understanding that they don’t know everything. They allowed themselves to become A Product of the coach and his leadership – they are A Product of the Product. Now ask yourself about the team that didn’t even make it to the National Tournament – are they still A Product of the Product?  YES!

What is the PRODUCT that you represent and how are you representing it? What culture are you promoting through the success or failure you are publicly displaying? If you were asked right now to choose between the words SUCCESS and FAILURE to describe your current athletic season which one would it be AND who would get the CREDIT for Producing that Product?

Remember if your team is losing or if your team is winning – they are A Product of the Product – and as the coach you are the Product!!!


“Think Outside The Box” For Recruiting Strategies That Can Make A DifferenceMonday, January 7th, 2013

By Sean Devlin, Front Rush

This week, I digressed from technology…

“Love something besides magic, in the arts.  Get inspired by a particular poet, film-maker, sculptor, composer.  You will never be the first Brian Allen Brushwood of magic if you want to be Penn & Teller.  But if you want to be, say, the Salvador Dali of magic, we’ll THERE’S an opening.”

This excerpt is from an email between celebrity magician Teller (Penn & Teller) and a young up-and-coming magician Brian Bushwood.

I read the above in a blog post and my head exploded with the simplicity and obvious nature of it, yet we all practice this so little. It’s true. Think about how often you look to your peers or predecessors for inspiration but rarely look outside the coaching world. Or think about how often you emulate your competition instead of seeing how others in a different domain dealt with their challenges. We all fall into this trap of tunnel vision so let’s explore the idea of breaking away a bit.

Let’s start with an example that you are already using with this blog/newsletter. You are learning techniques that Dan Tudor has taken from a parallel industry (sales) and applying it to your own (recruiting). It’s a small chasm to cross to make the leap from recruiting to sales yet the lessons and strategy and passage are the same.

So let’s step further outside our comfort zone, and look at magic. Is your presentation style that of David Copperfield: very dramatic, very elegant, very artistic. Or more of a David Blaine: up close and personal, very raw, very simple. Or maybe you are the Chris Angel of the recruiting world? Where else? What about music? Could you learn from the calculation of Mozart or the business of KISS or maybe the intelligence of Tupac? What if you research business leaders? Are there lessons from Rockefeller and his outright declaration of war on his competition or Warren Buffett and his focus on the long term?

In the competitive world of college recruiting where so many coaches and schools are looking to “stand out” or find their niche, one great way to do so is look beyond your initial surroundings. Instead of looking at the person next to you, look to outside worlds…look to presidents and world leaders…look to artists and musicians…look to engineers…look to war heroes…look to ancient cultures. Expand your recruiting and coaching by incorporating ideas found far off of the playing surface.


You, Recruiting and “A Message to Garcia”Friday, November 9th, 2012

What kind of a coach and recruiter are you?

At your core – when nobody is looking, and you’re the only one in the office – how focused are you on getting the job done for your program, your fellow coaches on staff, and your college?

That question applies directly to your role as an effective recruiter.  What you do, how well you do it, and what kind of focus and energy you apply to that part of your job, will (in the long term) determine what degree of success you have as a college coach.

Which brings me to a short piece written in 1899 in pre-Socialist Cuba by a businessman and author named Elbert Hubbard.  If you are a college coach who wants to be the very best in the business, this should be something that you print out and read regularly.  It’s powerful, and though written in language that is better suited for the last century, the core questions it raises for hard-working recruiters are timeless.  In my opinion, it’s also an excellent piece to have your team go through, as it addresses the concepts of hard work, personal accountability, and results that each individual is responsible for in their professional and personal lives.

After the piece, I have three key questions for every college recruiter at the end.  Enjoy.


“A Message to Garcia”

by Elbert Hubbard, 1899

“In all this Cuban business there is one man that stands out on the horizon of my memory like Mars at perihelion. When war broke out between Spain and the United States, it was very necessary to communicate quickly with the leader of the Insurgents. Garcia was somewhere in the mountain vastness of Cuba- no one knew where. No mail nor telegraph message could reach him. The President must secure his cooperation, and quickly.

What to do!

Some one said to the President, “There’s a fellow by the name of Rowan who will find Garcia for you, if anybody can.”

Rowan was sent for and given a letter to be delivered to Garcia. How “the fellow by the name of Rowan” took the letter, sealed it up in an oil-skin pouch, strapped it over his heart, in four days landed by night off the coast of Cuba from an open boat, disappeared into the jungle, and in three weeks came out on the other side of the Island, having traversed a hostile country on foot, and delivered his letter to Garcia, are things I have no special desire now to tell in detail.

The point I wish to make is this: McKinley gave Rowan a letter to be delivered to Garcia; Rowan took the letter and did not ask, “Where is he at?” By the Eternal! There is a man whose form should be cast in deathless bronze and the statue placed in every college of the land. It is not book-learning young men and women need, nor instruction about this and that, but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies: Do the thing- “Carry a message to Garcia!”

General Garcia is dead now, but there are other Garcias.

No man or woman, who has endeavored to carry out an enterprise where many hands were needed, but has been well nigh appalled at times by the imbecility of the average man- the inability or unwillingness to concentrate on a thing and do it. Slip-shod assistance, foolish inattention, dowdy indifference, and half-hearted work seem the rule; and no man succeeds, unless by hook or crook, or threat, he forces or bribes other men to assist him; or mayhap, God in His goodness performs a miracle, and sends him an Angel of Light for an assistant. You, reader, put this matter to a test: You are sitting now in your office- six co-workers are within call.

Summon any one and make this request: “Please look in the encyclopedia and make a brief memorandum for me concerning the life of Correggio”.

Will your co-worker quietly say, “Yes, sir,” and go do the task?

On your life, he will not. He will look at you out of a fishy eye and ask one or more of the following questions:

Who was he?

Which encyclopedia?

Where is the encyclopedia?

Was I hired for that?

Don’t you mean Bismarck?

What’s the matter with Charlie doing it?

Is he dead?

Is there any hurry?

Shan’t I bring you the book and let you look it up yourself?

What do you want to know for?

And I will lay you ten to one that after you have answered the questions, and explained how to find the information, and why you want it, the clerk will go off and get one of the other clerks to help him try to find Garcia- and then come back and tell you there is no such man. Of course I may lose my bet, but according to the Law of Average, I will not.

Now if you are wise you will not bother to explain to your “assistant” that Correggio is indexed under the C’s, not in the K’s, but you will smile sweetly and say, “Never mind,” and go look it up yourself.

And this incapacity for independent action, this moral stupidity, this infirmity of the will, this unwillingness to cheerfully catch hold and lift, are the things that put pure Socialism so far into the future. If men will not act for themselves, what will they do when the benefit of their effort is for all? A first-mate with knotted club seems necessary; and the dread of getting “the bounce” Saturday night, holds many a worker to his place.

Advertise for a stenographer, and nine out of ten who apply, can neither spell nor punctuate – and do not think it necessary to.

Can such a one write a letter to Garcia?

“You see that bookkeeper,” said the foreman to me in a large factory.

“Yes, what about him?”

“Well he’s a fine accountant, but if I’d send him up town on an errand, he might accomplish the errand all right, and on the other hand, might stop at four saloons on the way, and when he got to Main Street, would forget what he had been sent for.”

Can such a man be entrusted to carry a message to Garcia?

We have recently been hearing much maudlin sympathy expressed for the “downtrodden denizen of the sweat-shop” and the “homeless wanderer searching for honest employment,”  and with it all often go many hard words for the men in power.

Nothing is said about the employer who grows old before his time in a vain attempt to get frowsy ne’er-do-wells to do intelligent work; and his long patient striving with “help” that does nothing but loaf when his back is turned. In every store and factory there is a constant weeding-out process going on. The employer is constantly sending away “help” that have shown their incapacity to further the interests of the business, and others are being taken on. No matter how good times are, this sorting continues, only if times are hard and work is scarce, the sorting is done finer- but out and forever out, the incompetent and unworthy go.

It is the survival of the fittest. Self-interest prompts every employer to keep the best – those who can carry a message to Garcia.

I know one man of really brilliant parts who has not the ability to manage a business of his own, and yet who is absolutely worthless to any one else, because he carries with him constantly the insane suspicion that his employer is oppressing, or intending to oppress him. He cannot give orders; and he will not receive them. Should a message be given him to take to Garcia? His answer would probably be, “Take it yourself.”

Tonight this man walks the streets looking for work, the wind whistling through his threadbare coat. No one who knows him dare employ him, for he is a regular fire-brand of discontent. He is impervious to reason, and the only thing that can impress him is the toe of a thick-soled No. 9 boot.

Of course I know that one so morally deformed is no less to be pitied than a physical cripple; but in our pitying, let us drop a tear, too, for the men who are striving to carry on a great enterprise, whose working hours are not limited by the whistle, and whose hair is fast turning white through the struggle to hold in line dowdy indifference, slip-shod imbecility, and the heartless ingratitude, which, but for their enterprise, would be both hungry and homeless.

Have I put the matter too strongly? Possibly I have; but when all the world has gone a-slumming I wish to speak a word of sympathy for the man who succeeds- the man who, against great odds has directed the efforts of others, and having succeeded, finds there’s nothing in it: nothing but bare board and clothes.

I have carried a dinner pail and worked for day’s wages, and I have also been an employer of labor, and I know there is something to be said on both sides. There is no excellence, per se, in poverty; rags are no recommendation; and all employers are not rapacious and high-handed, any more than all poor men are virtuous.

My heart goes out to the man who does his work when the “boss” is away, as well as when he is at home. And the man who, when given a letter for Garcia, quietly take the missive, without asking any idiotic questions, and with no lurking intention of chucking it into the nearest sewer, or of doing aught else but deliver it, never gets “laid off,” nor has to go on a strike for higher wages. Civilization is one long anxious search for just such individuals. Anything such a man asks shall be granted; his kind is so rare that no employer can afford to let him go. He is wanted in every city, town and village – in every office, shop, store and campus.

The world cries out for such: They are needed, and needed badly – the man or woman who can carry a message to Garcia.”

* * *

So, here are my three questions for you as a college coach:

  • What are you doing – or could be doing – without being asked?
  • When you set your mind to recruiting, do you approach it begrudgingly?  Or, do you strive to learn as much as you can about this part of your job and attack it with the same enthusiasm you do in preparing for the pure coaching part of your career?
  • What needs to change right now?

Look for opportunities to “carry a message to Garcia”.  And when you get that opportunity, excel at it.



What Coaches Can Learn From the Amazing Life of Steve JobsMonday, October 24th, 2011

Steve Jobs’ death brought an end to the amazing life of a man destined to go down as one of the most incredible innovators of our time.

He is also someone who developed principles that every college coach should try to learn from, and put to use in their program.

Here is a list of Steve Jobs’ rules for success.  Are you following them in your coaching career?

1. Do what you love.   Jobs once said, “People with passion can change the world for the better.” Asked about the advice he would offer would-be entrepreneurs, he said, “I’d get a job as a busboy or something until I figured out what I was really passionate about.” That’s how much it meant to him. Passion is everything.

2. Put a dent in the universe.  Jobs believed in the power of vision. He once asked then-Pepsi President, John Sculley, “Do you want to spend your life selling sugar water or do you want to change the world?” Don’t lose sight of the big vision.

3. Make connections.  Jobs once said creativity is connecting things. He meant that people with a broad set of life experiences can often see things that others miss. He took calligraphy classes that didn’t have any practical use in his life — until he built the Macintosh.  Jobs traveled to India and Asia. He studied design and hospitality. Don’t live in a bubble. Connect ideas from different fields.

4.  Say no to 1,000 things.  Jobs was as proud of what Apple chose not to do as he was of what Apple did. When he returned in Apple in 1997, he took a company with 350 products and reduced them to 10 products in a two-year period. Why? So he could put the “A-Team” on each product. What are you saying “no” to?

5. Create insanely different experiences.  Jobs also sought innovation in the customer-service experience. When he first came up with the concept for the Apple Stores, he said they would be different because instead of just moving boxes, the stores would enrich lives. Everything about the experience you have when you walk into an Apple store is intended to enrich your life and to create an emotional connection between you and the Apple brand. What are you doing to enrich the lives of your customers?

6. Master the message.  You can have the greatest idea in the world, but if you can’t communicate your ideas, it doesn’t matter. Jobs was the world’s greatest corporate storyteller. Instead of simply delivering a presentation like most people do, he informed, he educated, he inspired and he entertained, all in one presentation.

7. Sell dreams, not products.  Jobs captured our imagination because he really understood his customer. He knew that tablets would not capture our imaginations if they were too complicated. The result? One button on the front of an iPad. It’s so simple, a 2-year-old can use it. Your customers don’t care about your product (Coaches…translate “your recruits don’t care about your program at first”). They care about themselves, their hopes, their ambitions. Jobs taught us that if you help your customers reach their dreams, you’ll win them over.

Special thanks to Coach Karen Corey, Head Volleyball Coach at Bowdoin College, for sharing that with us.

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