Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A New Season Ahead

I love the changing seasons.  When I was young, my favorite time showed up with the deep, blue skies of October.  The reds and oranges of the leaves and the crisp air would signal that I would soon get to ski and skate.  Then, winter would slowly go away and golf would be right around the corner.  It was always exciting and I looked forward to all four seasons.  Now, my changing seasons mean the cycles of coaching and they excite me just as much.  I greatly needed a rest and a recharge this summer, but I'm ready to go now.  As I do each year, I looked closely at what I failed to do well last year and also what went well.  That process always leads to adjustments for the upcoming year.  The trick for me is to commit to what is needed and keep it in plain sight to remind myself not to fall into my habits of old.

Coaching is a unique profession.  You can take the job whichever direction you want to go.  You can make competition your purpose or focus on education.  You can value relationships or structure.  You can make recruiting the most important factor of your success or development of players.  Your job is created by your philosophy and work ethic.  It is also a job that can be reinvented with each new year and each team.  Once you find what works best, you have a blueprint for your culture and your program.

Our blueprint is pretty well set after over 20 years of coaching.  David has added so much good energy and good ideas to our culture and has helped shape us in new ways.  Constant learning and adjusting has also helped us grow.  I look forward to the fall now, not for the weather as much as for the fun we will have getting started on another year.

This year, the team is reading The Energy Bus prior to arriving on campus.  We will use the ideas in Jon Gordon's book to help us build a culture that we want to sustain in good times and bad.  Gordon is a big believer in character + talent = strong team.  I agree!  From the outside looking in, others might not understand our recruiting process, but from the inside looking out, it's clear.  We want players who love golf.  We want players who love their teammates.  We want players who want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.  We want players who will work tirelessly toward their goals.  We want players who aren't afraid to set high goals and hold themselves to a high standard daily.  We want players who excel in the classroom and the community as well as on the course.

Those are the people about to join us for the upcoming year and you can understand why I'm ready to get started.  Coaching is always easier when you haven't posted a score yet.  It is always great when it's simply about the sport.  However, real coaching starts when the scores are high or when the golf is the simplest thing in the player's life instead of the hardest.  In other words, coaching is about the person in front of you and all of her successes and failures; not just the ones on the golf course.  It's about love, support and positivism when it seems like you should be offering a kick in the butt and a harsh word.  It's also about offering harsh words when called for and asking for more; always more.

It's time for the last weeks of preparation before the freshmen start arriving and my head is whirling with what I want to do and the tone I want to set.  Luckily, there are people like Jon Gordon who help me get the ducks in a row and remind me what's important.  The work is piled up after 10 days of vacation, but it will get done in good time and I will be ready on the first day of classes.  I can't wait!

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