Respect in Coaching

Podcast Season 2, Episode 2.

In this episode I take a look at respect in sports and coaching.

Respect in Coaching


8.9.17 ~ Matthew 4:12-17

Matthew 4:12-17

12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— 14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:

15 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
    the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,
    Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people living in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
    a light has dawned.”


17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

For the sake of this blog all of my posts will relate to coaching sports teams, even though this passage of Scripture (and all Scripture)  is useful in all areas of life. Just because I write with a certain audience in mind, doesn’t mean you can’t take this Scripture and let the Holy Spirit transform another area of you or your life.

I think the Holy Spirit is a good member of the Trinity to remember when we read and study Scripture.  I’m going to share my opinion and thoughts, but ultimately the Holy Spirit is our guide and our Present Teacher.  When we study Scripture let’s make sure we pray and ask the Holy Spirit to come and teach us and help us to relate what we read to our lives.

There are two things from today’s passage that I want to mention.

As someone who needs his quiet and space, I appreciate that Jesus needed his space as well.  In verse 12 we read that when Jesus heard about John he withdrew.  Elsewhere in Scripture we see Jesus either withdrawing, or going off by himself (or with his disciples) to pray and spend time with God.  In today’s Scripture we see that Jesus withdrew to Galilee.

We aren’t told what Jesus did there, but we do know of the different places he lived and visited.  Part of the reason for his withdrawing was to fulfill a prophecy, and I have to believe that another reason was to just get away and rest.  As coaches I think modeling rest to our athletes is a good idea.  Of course you have to be under the belief and understanding that athletes, no matter their age, can’t train year round without taking breaks.  As coaches we can model rest in our own lives by how we scheduled periods of rest into a balanced routine, and we can also schedule rest for our athletes during and out of the season.  If we don’t our bodies and their bodies will break down and we won’t be able to “perform” at a high level.

I think that Jesus’ withdrawing also shows that He knew Himself well enough to know what He needed to do to recharge.  I know in my life there needs to be a good balance of activity and rest.  Even in busy seasons of life this is possible, and we constantly need to be reminded that it is okay to take care of ourselves and slow down every once and awhile.  Or slowing down might just be for a moment, but sometimes a moment is all we need.

In verse 17 we read that Jesus began to preach “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Another thing I like about Jesus is that His message never changed, from the beginning to the end of His earthly ministry.  Jesus knew His mission, He knew what the task at hand was, and He set out to do it.  I can appreciate Jesus’ unwavering pursuit of His mission, as He desired to reach people with the grace, hope, and love that we experience through our salvation  in Him.

A couple of things here. 1) As Christian coaches we have the same message to share as we point the people in our spheres of influence to the hope and truth of Jesus Christ.  This is pretty simple and everything in our life, including our words and actions, can point others to Jesus. 2) Jesus never wavered in his message.  I wonder how this relates to us as coaches?  I think this might mean that when we have a philosophy that we believe in, stick to it. I also think this means we are consistent in what we teach, how we discipline, how we encourage, how we interact with players, how we treat the officials, and more.  Consistency is important as we work with and seek to have a positive influence on the lives of young people.

I know here in Idaho that fall sports seasons are getting started in our public and private schools around the state.  My prayer is for there to be opportunity for young people to experience the greatness of sport and sportsmanship, while learning and having fun, building relationships with their teammates, and learning about Jesus or growing in their commitment and relationship with Him.  My prayer is similar for coaches.

Thanks for reading.  Have a great day.

What Would Coaching Like Jesus Do?

Because of a job change giving me less flexibility and time in my schedule my availability for coaching youth sports has decreased.  I’m still the pastor of my church on a ¼ time basis while I also work full-time as the manager of two local organizations.  Because of these changes I am having to say no to some of the opportunities I have had as a paid coach, and will do what I can in a limited role and on a volunteer basis.

In all of this, and in a creative way to continue to be involved in coaching basketball and track and field I have spent some time reflecting on the state of youth sports and culture in the United States of America and around the globe, and my own coaching philosophy and desire as a coach.

My goal is to post a written blog twice a month, and a podcast twice a month to share these reflections as I process the part of my story which involves coaching. Given my track record with both of these mediums we won’t celebrate until we see consistency.

I was at a track meet a couple of weeks ago to watch my youngest son and track enthusiast run.  A friend of mine was picking up hurdles towards the end of the meet and I passed him as I was on the way to see my youngest get his medal for the race he had just completed.  As my friend and I engaged in conversation he asked me if I wanted to help him pick up the hurdles.

After my lack of a favorable response he asked, “What would Coaching Like Jesus do?”

“Probably go take a picture of his kid receiving a medal,” I replied, feeling a little like a jerk, but not enough to make me help with the hurdles.

I was glad moments later when I saw that the hurdles had been picked up.

“What would Coaching Like Jesus do?” is the question that I would like to try and answer in my written blog posts and in my blog.  But the answer goes beyond sports as well as I have already mentioned in previous unread blog posts.  How does this question apply to other areas of life?  As a parent? As an employee? As an employer? As a spouse? As a friend? As a …. whatever it is you are and do.  “What Would Jesus Do?” was a popular question from the book “In His Steps” by Charles M. Sheldon, and the question is still relevant to us today as we seek to follow Jesus the best we can.

This is what I am going to reflect on and explore.  We will see where the journey takes us.

5.24.2017 ~ Wednesday Devotion

2 months ago I started writing a weekly devotional for this blog, and then after a few weeks I abruptly stopped.  I’m hoping to pick this routine up again, although I can’t promise anything.  Now that I’m in the off season I should have some more “free” time to write.

On Wednesday mornings I participate in what we call Wednesday Worship.  We gather at 6:00 am with a cup of coffee in our hands to study the Bible and to pray. This time is a blessing during the week for me.  This morning we were in Colossians 3.

Here is some of what we read.

Colossians 3:12 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”

As coaches working with young people we are to take these virtues with us and live them out as we interact with players, coaches, referees, and parents. Our identity comes from being holy and beloved children of God.  Out of this relationship we are to know and practice compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

Colossians 3:14 “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

While this statement is not unique to me, I will continue to share that our number one job as coaches is to love our players. We need to “put on love” every day. If we are able to “put on love” all of the other virtues from Colossians 3:14 (and others) have opportunity to shine.

Colossians 3:20-21 “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children or they will become discouraged.”

As I read this I changed the words to allow them to emulate the relationship between athletes and coaches.

It would then read something like this … “Athletes,obey your coaches in everything, for this pleases the Lord.  Coaches, do not embitter (provoke) your athletes or they will become discouraged.”

Just like in the relationship between parents and children, I believe the greatest responsibility here relies on the coaches to live lives worthy of respect and being obeyed. Young people see right through phony, and won’t obey (nor should they) or follow people they don’t deem worthy of their respect or obedience. So, coaches let’s live, act, and talk in such a way that our athletes will respect us and want to follow our lead. Perhaps, even seeing us as mentors and role models in their lives.  Let’s make sure we encourage, support, and love the athletes entrusted to our care.


5.23.2017 ~ 11 More Reflections

After I finished sharing my reflections yesterday I knew I still had a few lingering in the archives of my mind waiting to be processed.  So, today I will add them to the list.  Most of the reflections are from track, but I will also add a few from basketball.  I shared reflections after coaching the 7th grade girls team in the fall, but because of busyness and a day off before track started I never shared reflections from the 8th grade boys basketball season.

Once again I offer these reflections from coaching very humbly, recognizing that they are my thoughts and reactions and not necessarily anybody else’s.  I also recognize that I think about and take a different approach to youth sports than many other people.  I don’t always share the thoughts behind my reasoning, and maybe through the course of this blog I will some day, but don’t always feel the need to express myself.  Perhaps, in these lists you will get a glimpse of where I am coming from.

  1.  From the Head Coach: Heidi, my wife and Head Track and Field Coach at Homedale High School, shared this with me this morning. “You have me thinking about more reflections this morning … one I’m stuck on is when there is respect, encouragement, and a positive environment, you get more out of kids … harder work, better results, more leadership.
  2. Judas Didn’t Get It: Perhaps this reflection is a bit broader than just my thoughts and observations from sports.  Okay, I know it is.  I’ve been thinking about Judas as I interact and work with people.  Judas spent significant time with Jesus, and in the end he still decided that he didn’t buy in and opted for a different path.  I’m convinced that this will happen every once in awhile in our work with people. Sometimes we can agree to disagree, sometimes we can’t. I wonder what Jesus’ thoughts were about Judas? Did he weep?  Did he run through conversations and interactions in his head? Did he think “Father, forgive him”? Sometimes on our teams with players and parents there is total buy in, and sometimes there is not.  There are a variety of reasons … some of them valid.  I think as coaches we have to humbly examine those reasons, and know when we need to stick to our guns (thoughts, philosophy, approach) and when we need to rethink.  I don’t think Jesus needed to rethink what He was doing, Jesus knew the mission, and was steadfast.  But since we are fallible humans we have to be open to God’s guidance and the leading of the Holy Spirit as we coach.
  3. A Better Coach: I’m a better coach because of the young people I get to work with. I’ve learned to better listener, to have empathy for the athletes, and to really try and hear where they are coming from.   Three years ago one of the girls I coach shared with me how she responds when coaches yell excessively for no apparent reason.  She just tuned them out.  I started watching other coaches and athletes, and noticed that most young people tune out when their coaches use yelling as coaching tactic on a regular basis.  I wasn’t much of a yeller before, and I am even less of one know.  I’ve learned other things from shutting my mouth and listening to my athletes, and I am grateful to them for the things I have taught me.
  4. Saying Goodbye Is Hard: We have our end of season team awards banquet tomorrow night, and I will probably cry like a baby at it.  When I’m sharing with people my thoughts about how awesome they are I can get emotional.  Last year I cried when I talked about a sophomore, and didn’t even say anything about a junior except “I can’t do this two years in a row, I will say something next year.” Now, it’s next year and she is a senior, and there are several other seniors … saying goodbye is hard. This happens when you invest so much in the lives of the young people you work with and coach. You grow to love them, and develop amazing relationships with them and it is hard to not work with them in the same capacity anymore. The cool thing is that the relationship continues and changes.  I love it when they swing by the house to say hi when they are home from college, or they just need to stop and visit.  Tomorrow night will be hard, I’m already preparing myself because it will be good too.
  5. PR’s: One of the reasons I like coaching track is because if athletes work hard and focus on being their best selves, competing against themselves daily to bring out their best, they can see results.  I don’t care about places, but I am passionate about young people working hard, and doing their best. In track and field everything is easily measured, and athletes can see the result of their hard work and effort.  They get times, distances, and marks for every event they do and we keep track of those things. The goal is to progress throughout the year and peak at the end of the season.  We measure their distance, times, and marks and celebrate Personal Records or PR’s. PR’s allow the athletes to see the result of their efforts … pushing themselves to be their best.
  6. There’s Always Been Basketball: I’m contemplating a book by this same title.  This year I was able to coach my son’s 8th grade basketball team, and I now know this is exactly what I needed to do this year.  We were having trouble finding an assistant coach for the B team, and so before Christmas I asked my dad (a retired teacher and coach) if he would like to help.  I also had one of my former players volunteer to help. So, this season I got to coach my son, and coach with my dad. How awesome is that? (The answer is very awesome.) In January we found out that my dad’s cancer came back and all I kept thinking was that I was glad he had basketball practice and games to give him something else to think about.  My dad and I have shared a lot of experiences on the basketball court, and I am grateful we could share this past season together as well.
  7. Hand Shake: I always teach my basketball teams how to properly shake hands.  I don’t know why I started doing this but I do think being able to shake hands properly is a valuable life skill.  One of the fun things for me is when I get to shake former player’s hands. Every time I show up at the middle school one of the young men who played for me this year comes up with his hand out ready to shake hands. (I told them to always be prepared when they see me.) Lately, some of the guys I’ve coached in the past have been coming home from college for the summer … lot’s of proper handshakes. Good stuff. I just think you can tell a lot about a person from how they shake hands and I want to make sure my players represent themselves well. Plus they will use the art of shaking hands more than they will use their cross over dribble.
  8. A Space to Belong: One of the goals of our track program is to create a space for young people to have a since of belonging. Within this environment they are free to be themselves and connect with their friends and coaches as they see fit. Positiveness, encouragement, and support are on display and being a great teammate is of the upmost importance.
  9. Being a Good Teammate: One of the things I saw on display often was how great of a job our track and field athletes did of being good teammates.  They loved each other. They supported each other. They encouraged each other. They cheered for each other. They talked to each other. They joked with each other. They mentored each other. They helped each other. They coached each other. They looked out for each other.  They were good teammates.
  10. In The Grand Scheme of Life: In the grand scheme of life high school athletics are a small blip on the radar, but they can have great impact.  I think it is good to keep this in perspective as we work with young people, and understand that high school athletics are extra-curricular activities that are one part of their training and education. Let’s make sure we don’t put undue pressure on our young people while encouraging them to do their best and have fun.
  11. Rest: I think rest is important and I think one of the reasons we had such a successful season is the way we included rest within our training schedule.  Our message the last few weeks during training as been “go fast, and full recover.” Proper rest allows student athletes to shine when they need to shine, and reduces injury and burnout.  Sabbath rest is an important topic in the Bible, and I believe is one that needs to be encourage in youth sports for the best results to be obtained.

5.22.2017 ~ 10 Reflections from Track

I’m an assistant coach for the Homedale High School and Homedale Middle School Track and Field teams.  We run a combined program with all of the coaches coaching specific areas in both programs.  This was our third year running the program this way, and even with turnover in our coaching staff this year, everything seems to be working really well.

This is my fifth year coaching track and field, and this year I added coaching the sprinters to my job description, while I also focused on the jumpers.  This last weekend we competed at the Idaho 3A State Track and Field Championships and had our best showing as a program in the past 5 years.  The boys team took 5th out of the 21 schools competing, missing 4th place and a trophy by 3 points.  This was accomplished with 5 boys.  The girls team took 6th place out of 21 schools, competing with 8 girls. You can find results from the meet here.

I would like to share some of my reflections from the season, the state track meet, and my coaching experience in both basketball and track and field.  I share these reflections humbly as my opinion knowing full well that I think differently than others do about coaching and working with young people. These reflections come after observation, thought, prayer, interactions, reading, and conversations.

  1. Young People Are Still Driven: Often I hear how this generation of young people doesn’t want to work hard for anything, and while this may be true for some of our young people I can assure you this is not true for all of them.  For those of you who might think this generation of young people doesn’t know how to work hard nor do they want to, I would challenge you to attend a track and field meet.  All weekend I witnessed young people pushing themselves to the limit both emotionally, mentally, and physically to give of the very best of themselves.  Their effort was commendable.
  2. Sportsmanship Was on Display: Time and time again I witnessed good sportsmanship on display as athletes competed against themselves and each other, and then shared their excitement and disappointment with one anther.  I saw the opposite of this as well, and fortunately it was few and far between. I can tell you that the good sportsmanship shined brightly, and the bad sportsmanship stood out like a soar thumb … or ego.
  3. Having Fun: Time and time again I hear young people say the number one reason they want to be involved in sports is to have fun.  As a coach I (we) are challenged to make sure this happens within the community and environment of our track program.  I (we) have found fun can be had while also demanding hard work, commitment, respect, and discipline.  While demanding these things we also foster support, care, love, kindness, grace, relationships, and the opportunity for team members to be themselves.
  4. Mental Fortitude:  This year one of our athletes was state champion in the 100m and 200m sprints.  He also anchored the state champion 4x200m relay team, and the 2nd place 4×100 relay team.  I can tell you that the 100m and 200m races were won before this young man got on the bus in the morning to head to the meet.  He had ran them over and over so many times in his head that there was no doubt in his mind that he was going to win.  The only people that didn’t know were the people watching the track meet, and the other young men he was racing against.  The positive mental approach to sports can not be overlooked.  Being mentally strong is a huge asset to all coaches and athletes.  I recommend for all coaches and athletes to read the book “With Winning In Mind” by Lanny Bassham.
  5. Mental Fortitude #2: When submitting names of relay team members coaches can include an alternate or two per relay. We hope we never have to use the alternates, because that usually means someone had an injury that prevented them from running.  Saturday we had to use our alternate.  The lead off runner for both of our relays was injured Saturday morning while he was competing in the long jump.  We knew right away that he was done for the day, and while tending to him and making sure he got the help he needed at the training table we quickly got our alternate ready to go. Our alternate was a freshman who had never ran either relay, who had never practiced starts with a baton, and who had never done a blind hand off.  But I knew mentally he was strong, and physically he could perform the task.  We taught him hand offs, and how to start with a baton, and then we and his teammates coached him up.  From the time he was ready to go to the time the relays were finished his “I’ve got this” attitude and confidence allowed him to do the job he needed to do for us.  I was sad to see our lead off man go down. Sad for him, because he put so much into this season, and because he is such a great kid. I was happy for the young man who stepped in, and for the rest of the team members for doing their collective best for all of 5 of the team members.
  6. Love and Relationships:  As coaches the two most important things we can offer our athletes is our unconditional love, and a relationship with us.
  7. More Than Sports: I’m convinced yet again that what we do as coaches involves so much more than the sport itself.  When we only focus on the sport we miss out on so much more. We miss out on the opportunity to get to know some great young people, to engage in their lives on a personal level, to teach about all aspects of life, and to have a positive impact and influence on their lives.  The real win as coaches is when young people leave our programs a better version of themselves than when they started, and they go out and have great impact on our world.
  8. Respect: Aretha sang about it best, and the young people I work with remind me that they will give me their respect if I give them mine.  We have to respect the athletes we work with as the valuable people they are.  We are to treat them with respect, talk to them with respect, and coach them with respect.
  9. We Will Make Mistakes: Coaches and parents will make mistakes, and the mistakes we make can have a detrimental impact on the athletes we coach.  We need to be careful folks.  When we make mistakes we need to apologize and move on.  If we linger in our mistakes we can do great damage to our athletes … our sons and daughters.
  10. Coaching With My Bride: The last five years I have been able to coach alongside my beautiful wife, Heidi.  She is the Head Track and Field Coach and the Head Cross Country Coach at Homedale High School.  She makes it easy for me and the other assistants to do our jobs, and her love and care for the athletes on her teams is amazing.  Coaching together these last five years has brought me great joy.  One of the things we are able to do, hopefully, is model for the young people a healthy marriage and family.