The following article is from the February 2015 NABC Full-Timeout and is written by the Executive Director, Jim Haney.
The pressures coaches face in today’s world of basketball challenges the minds and hearts of coaches across the board. The pressure to win and develop a successful program now and every year creates an intense and often isolating atmosphere. Job turnover, family pressures, even physical health issues come into play each and every season. Coaches can begin to feel like they are on an island. This pressure is magnified as coaches are constantly striving to deal with life away from their jobs while trying to find the appropriate balance to fulfill their commitment to their players, their program, the university, athletic department and their families.
Every person is made up of three aspects: mind, body and soul. Countless hours and money are spent to develop our athlete’s bodies and minds as they pursue success in the classroom and on the court. However, the real issue coaches are facing is how they impact the life of the student-athlete’s soul and character with the limited time they have to do so. With time being such a high commodity for coaches as they find themselves recruiting, breaking down video tape, preparing scouting reports, leading practices, monitoring players’ classroom attendance, attending speaking engagements and all the while being a husband and father to their wife and families each day, the amount of time they can pour into their players is limited. The problem then lies in the fact that coaches have only so much time to lead young men in their character development.
Coaches are feeling limited in sharing the necessary time they need to develop the heart of the student-athlete. I have heard coaches say things like, “My players know I love the game, but their lives off the court are compromising their play on it.” “How can I help my players more fully develop as players, young men, husbands and fathers?”
Creating a program that meets the needs of the players’ mind, body and soul leads to a strategy that develops young men of character. All coaches desire to win championships and banners; but the legacy of a coach ultimately finds its roots in the men they produce for the world to see. As coaches, one of the greatest joys is to look back over the years not focusing on winning and losing but witnessing the many young men we were able to serve and see how they have become great husbands, fathers and role models for all of those they influence. This is the legacy of a coach!
So the question still remains, “How can I lead my players in character development with such limited time?”
A growing number of programs are addressing character development by providing a character coach for their program. A character coach is someone who has the sole purpose of serving your coaches and student athletes. This person is not another basketball coach on your staff, but a person willing to come alongside you and help the head coach develop the soul of the athlete. The character coach provides character development studies based on values that help the student athlete make right decisions on and off the court. This person is available to provide one-on-one mentoring with the student-athletes. The head coach allows this to be a part of the overall strategy he is providing for all that are in his program. The character coach serves at the request of the head coach.
Here are just a few examples of how character coaches have and are making a difference.
“In all my years of coaching, one of the greatest decisions we ever made was to place a Character Coach in our program.”
-Dave Odom, Former Head Coach Wake Forest and University of South Carolina
“Adding a character coach is one of the best things I’ve ever done for my program. To have a man of great character deliver meaningful messages to my players each week about life and making the right choices has become an irreplaceable asset for my team.”
-Mark Turgeon, Head Men’s Basketball Coach, University of Maryland
“I would say that our Character Coaches have been as big a part of our success as anyone involved with our team.”
-Ritchie McKay, Associate Head Coach University of Virginia
Every coach has the wonderful opportunity to invest in the lives of their players. I encourage you, with the significant time demands on the coaching staff, to provide a character coach for your program. When you do, you will be well on your way to helping student-athletes live out a life of character and integrity.