Thursday, May 27, 2010

Coach Dick Corn’s Points of Emphasis for Players’ Parents:

A coaching friend of mine shared his notes for proper Coach / Parent relationships with his teams over the years. This coach won over 700 high school basketball games and a couple of state championships in Illinois. His list could be helpful to you and/or to those whom you serve.

Coach Dick Corn’s Points of Emphasis for Players’ Parents:

• Our goal as coaches is to try to make each situation a "win-win." We want what is best for your son, but that has to fall inside the boundaries of what is best for our team and our program.

• A player can only play for one coach. Let us coach your son. Your job is to support and encourage him.

• As the Head Coach I will only meet with you, the parent(s), if your son is present. We will NOT discuss his playing time.

• If your son is dissatisfied, encourage him to talk to the coach first. He is the person responsible for the interaction between player and coach. Only accompany him is he doesn't feel comfortable approaching the coach.

• Our rules are in the school athletic code. Those that fall outside the athletic code will be dealt with on an individual basis. We will make every attempt to be fair and consistent and will try to weigh what is best for your son versus the team and the program. One should simply be a Good Citizen!

Friday, May 21, 2010

"The Lord's a Tough Guy"

A couple of times over the last two years I have written about a coach friend of mine who is in a battle with melanoma. I have been writing him once or twice a week with a scripture to read and a prayer to pray. He has responded amazingly. I gave him a “Coaches Bible” just over a year ago and he reads two of the devotions and one chapter of scripture daily. I saw his wife at a function on Good Friday and she said, “He reads his Bible every morning. If you had told me that 18 months ago I would have laughed at you.”

When I visited the coach in his office in March and as he was telling me about reading Genesis through Leviticus he said, “The Lord’s a tough guy.” I agreed with him and he started telling me stories from his reading of the Lord’s toughness. He related the stories with respect and admiration. Tough guys respect and admire other tough guys.

We are planning to publish these simple scriptures and prayers in a book to benefit a local cancer fund. I asked Coach if he’d like to contribute a couple of paragraphs about his situation as a foreword for the book and his submission is below. I hope it encourages your hearts to care deeply for coaches and players, especially for those who don’t naturally fit in the normal evangelical culture and all its expectations. They’re worth it.

“During my recent bout with cancer, I’ve noticed several revelations, some minor and some more major, in nature. I think most glaringly is the support and concern I have received, not only from my immediate family, but from my friends, co-workers and even complete strangers. The outpouring of love and has been difficult for me to define, yet at the same time very humbling.

Maybe more importantly, is my new found appreciation for The Bible, as well as the influx of prayers I receive from concerned friends like Roger Lipe, Woody Thorne and Coach Kill. As recently as several years ago, I couldn’t delete fast enough what I considered “Junk Mail” when I received a blessing or special prayer. Now, things have changed, and being on or close to your death bad, can initiate change IN A HURRY!

Is my paying closer attention to the scripture self-serving or an act of desperation? Maybe so. I do know this, though, and to put it rather generically, The Bible claims “better late than never.” I have found that through scripture! I don’t know if I’ve TRULY discovered The Lord and the Bible’s true meaning; but it now means more to me and I’m glad I’ve become one of those “better late than never believers.”

When someone emphatically states ‘The Lord stand behinds you,’ it catches your attention. If Coach Cal can become a believer, you can too. My best to whoever takes the time to read this and ‘thank you’ for YOUR support.”

Friday, May 14, 2010

"I got fired yesterday."

A couple of weeks ago I received a phone call from a coaching friend who had just been fired. Our lengthy conversation was full of pain, disappointment, frustration and feelings of betrayal. I was helpless to do anything except to listen, to care and to assure him that God knew and cared about his situation.
My friend felt the pain of loss. His team had won only four games on the season. He had invested hundreds of working hours and thousands of miles of driving to practices and games for a meager annual salary. He felt the pain of loss in his wallet and in his heart.

He had a sense of betrayal in that the administrators had earlier assured him that he was doing the right things to build the program and that he was on the right track. To now hear that they “want to go in another direction” left him feeling abandoned and betrayed. The fact that a couple of players had accused him of intimidating them, without ever expressing anything like that to him, led to further feelings of betrayal.

He felt deeply disappointed that he had failed to accomplish the turnaround in the program he had envisioned. He was disappointed that the values he had been building into the program were not valued as much as the winning percentage.

The coach felt shame because he was losing his job and had no immediate prospects for a new one. The administration also asked him to have no contact with the players and that led to a greater sense of shame because he values the relationships and investment of years in the players. The dismissal struck him directly in the heart.

He was indignant that the team’s accomplishments in academics, recruiting, and individual achievement were undervalued. He was angry with the cavalier attitudes of those in power over him, the program and the players. All of them seemed to be treated unjustly by the administration.

Lastly, he was shocked by the firing. He had no indications that anything like this was likely to occur. He had just done post-season interviews with each player and heard nothing to indicate their feelings of intimidation. The administrators had been positive and encouraging in their most recent conversations with the coach.

Feelings of shock, anger, shame, disappointment, betrayal and pain all mixed together made for a tough phone conversation. He said that he had been trying to pray about the situation, but felt paralyzed. He couldn’t even pray. He wondered if the Lord cared about any of these things. I assured him that these things did not happen behind the Lord’s back and that He surely cared deeply about him, his players and his work. We prayed together on the phone and we asked the Lord for His grace to deal with all this situation has brought about. We prayed for the future and for the Lord’s purposes to be accomplished in the coach’s life as well in the lives of the players he’s leaving as well as in the administrators who made the decision.

It is in moments like these that I most often feel terribly inadequate as a Sport Chaplain. Everything in me wants to fix the problem. I cannot. My inadequacy leads me to turn to the ever-listening ear of the Savior for comfort and counsel. Let’s take the risk to be woefully inadequate and carry our friends’ cares, pain and frustration to the One who cares for us. (I Peter 5:7)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Comfort in Chaos

Our service of the people of sport is often mundane and slow. There are hours of standing and watching a practice, long bus rides or plane flights to endure along with occasional doubts about the wisdom of such use of time. At other times we’re in a vortex of noise, confusion, anxious personalities, screaming people and indecision. To serve effectively we must find a way to be comfortable in such chaos.

We feel the chaos for a number of reasons, among them is the fact that we’re really not in control of most of the situations where we serve. Someone else is running the practice, the competition, the emergency room, the surgery center, the coaches’ conference room or changing room. The lack of control feels like chaos.

Another reason for our discomfort is that we’re seldom the center of attention. If we’re Church leaders, we’re probably used to everyone following our lead and our agenda. It feels chaotic when we’re not in charge of the timing of the team’s activities. We have to become comfortable with that and simply fulfill our responsibilities.

The closer one is to the court, pitch, field or ground at the time of competition, the more the chaos is amplified. While standing on the sideline of college football for 15 seasons has ruined me, I hate to watch games from the seats, it has made me progressively more comfortable with the rush of chaotic-feeling noise and activity which surrounds me and the team.

Let’s become comfortable with the chaos which accompanies our world of sport and simply relax. Our relaxed attitude will make us more effective in service, more winsome in nature, and more intuitive in heart with those whom we serve.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

2009 Saluki Football Teambuilding

Below is a summary of the teambuilding process I conducted with Southern Illinois University Football last season. I have found this sort of process to be very effective in building community within the team and in developing the culture of the program as shaped by values. I hope it can serve as a model for your ministry. Please feel free to email me if you would like to discuss it further.

2009 Saluki Football Teambuilding

2009 was an outstanding season to be a part of the Saluki Football family. From December of 2008 through the final seconds of the season-ending loss to William and Mary, the team and the seniors in particular, had their sights set on winning championships. They won the Missouri Valley Football Conference championship, but fell short of their ultimate goal of becoming Division I Football Champion Subdivision champions.

Like every season since 2002, we were privileged to lead the Football Salukis through a set of exercises during pre-season which we call Teambuilding. This process has grown and developed over the years and this year’s set of discussions was focused on their collective goal of becoming champions.

In the following paragraphs we’ll share with you the ideas and the process which helped shape the values and relationships which ultimately made them champions. I hope you’ll try some of these questions with family members, coworkers and colleagues as you build your team to be champions.

The principle ideas around which we shaped all our teambuilding discussions, pre-game chapels and written communication were in these five statements -

Championship Teams:

• Love the game and make sacrifices for it.

• Are highly committed to their teammates.

• Develop strong leadership.

• Diligently prepare and execute their game plan.

• Compete on every play of every game.

In each of our Teambuilding sessions we had two main goals – 1) to build the team’s relationships so that they would know each other, trust each other and ultimately commit to each other. 2) To develop the culture of Saluki Football around values which make for championship teams.

In pursuing our relational goals we would interview a set of players each evening in small groups and then one of their teammates would relate another player’s answers to the questions to all ninety of his teammates. We asked them questions like these:

• Tell us your name, your home town, the position you play, and your uniform number.

• What is there you have yet to achieve in football that is very much a goal for this year?

• Tell us about a significant sacrifice you have made to be a Saluki Football player.

• Where you like to be and what would you like to be doing with your life in 10 years?

• If you could trade places for two weeks with anyone on the planet today, whom would you choose and why?

• Tell us about one of the most influential people in your life. How has that person impacted your life?

• If you could have a three hour lunch with any living person on the planet, whom would you choose and why?

• How would you like for your teammates to describe you at the end of your college football career?

In the process of building the culture of Saluki Football, we would discuss questions like these in both small groups and then with the whole team:

Championship Teams: Love the game and make sacrifices for it.

• Tell us about something you absolutely love about the game of football.

• What might you have to sacrifice now to become the player you want to be and for us to become the team we want to be?

Championship Teams: Are highly committed to their teammates.

• How have your teammates from the past demonstrated commitment to you and to your teams?

• How do you normally show your commitment to this team?

Championship Teams: Develop strong leadership.

• Tell us about one of the best team leaders with whom you have played football.

• What are some of the qualities you respect in team leaders?

Championship Teams: Diligently prepare and execute their game plan.

• Which of your teammates are the most diligent in preparation?

• How well does their diligence in preparation translate into execution on Saturdays?

Championship Teams: Compete on every play of every game.

• Can you recall an opponent from your past which competed at less than his best on some plays? What did you think of him?

• Tell us about an opponent from last year who was absolutely relentless. What did you think of him?

The 2009 Football Salukis were champions in large part because they fulfilled the five characteristics listed above. They grew to know, to trust and to make commitments to their teammates. These qualities make for championship teams in sport, in churches, in business, and in families. I pray your team will employ such Christ-honoring values as you pursue championships in all of life.