Monday, January 27, 2014

The Influential Coaches Series

Given that the name of this blog is "Coach of All Trades," I figured that it might be good to take a break from castigating the Baseball Hall of Fame (and the BBWAA), NBA conversations with friends, and general amateur sports writing to actually focus on coaching. To that end, I will shortly be unveiling the first installment in a monthly series about coaches who have personally influenced my career. By "personally influenced" I mean that I either played for or coached with them or studied under them in some capacity, so you're not going to get yet another missive on how awesome a coach John Wooden was. If you're reading this (and especially if you're one of my ten or so regular readers), there's a good chance you know that already.

So these thirteen people (I said it was a monthly series , but one of them will be a dual entry because in my mind it's impossible to separate the two - as I suspect will be the case for those familiar with their work) will be a mix of those who have, in one way or another, shaped my style and approach. A couple of them are famous (as in famous enough to have Wikipedia pages), but most are not. A couple have coached professionals, several have coached (or still coach) college athletes, and a few have never coached at a higher level than high school. Some made the profession a full-time career, while others have pursued coaching as more of a secondary thing (I don't want to say hobby, but you know what I mean - they also had a full-time job). All of them, in one way or another, are (or were) good at what they do (or did). Perhaps one of the most important reasons as to why I decided to pursue this project is that I feel like their work, in some cases (certainly not all) has been undervalued in one way or another.

Like I said, this will play out over the course of 2014, with a new entry coming right around the middle of each month. There is no ranking associated with this project, so you shouldn't read into what order the names pop up in. I will open and close the series with the two undoubtedly best-known names out there, but other than that everyone is scrambled in no particular order. I have been associated with a lot of coaches in my twenty-four years of playing and coaching competitive athletics; I would estimate the number to be somewhere around seventy or eighty. I've attempted to winnow that list down to thirteen of the people that I have learned the most from, particularly in a good way (I have certainly learned what NOT to do as well from some people, but we won't visit that material here). I'm also not going to reuse stories I've used earlier, so I'm sorry, Richie, you've already had your moment in the sun. Apart from telling a good story, I guess I most want to impart the lessons that I've learned and why I love the work of coaching, despite all of the frustrations that may be associated with it. I hope you enjoy, and stay tuned for the first installment tomorrow.