A strong athletic commitment is, arguably, one of the most important elements needed to support a strong, vibrant academic culture. So, if this is true, we need to look at athletic excellence as a necessary component for school success. A great athletic program leads to a great academic program but, it has to be great. A good athletic program is inconsequential in its overall effect.
Athletics has always been the ultimate example of experiential education, and its value should never be underestimated or misunderstood. In the case of Selwyn House, it is directly connected to both our Vision and Mission. Athletics builds self-awareness, self-respect, and self-confidence. It develops passion and begins the process by which each boy can come to understand the value of hard work and commitment. Through conduct in athletics, we learn to cooperate, to empathize, and to demonstrate true levels of respect. And of course, athletics allows us to deal with failure. Remember, we all need to fail, as greatness is unattainable without heavy doses of wonderful failure.
Athletics deals with so many skills required for success in the 21st century: teamwork, problem solving, creativity, leadership, and character. And then there is the reality of marketing. The public views our teams, they see our coaches, and they study the behaviour, deportment, and conduct of our players. It says a great deal about a school and so we need to get it right.
The enemy of great is good. We need our athletics at all levels to be a model of greatness. There are many ways to attain greatness, but for now I want to focus on what I believe to be the most important aspect of athletics at Selwyn House: the role of the coach. Please remember, this is all based on my opinion, but nonetheless, I have, over my career, seen the impact of great coaching, I have seen the irrelevant effect of good coaching, and I have seen the damage of poor coaching. Thus, here are my thoughts on coaching excellence. I will challenge each of you (even if you do not coach a team) to review this list and see where you stand. This is another exercise in self-awareness and honest self-evaluation. If we are lucky, our Physical Education Department can take my ideas and formulate a document that represents greatness in coaching at Selwyn House.
1) At Selwyn House each coach treats their role as a professional with the knowledge that the boys will respond in a positive fashion.
2) SHS coaches understand that relationships with all their players are crucial.
3) SHS coaches make their players feel they are part of something special.
4) SHS coaches value sportsmanship and are only satisfied with the utmost level of respect demonstrated by their players.
5) SHS coaches are passionate about their team.
6) SHS coaches are fully aware that they are role models in their talk, actions, deportment, and activities.
7) SHS coaches are organized for practices, meetings, and games.
8) SHS coaches are prepared for each practice to offer a high-quality experience. They always remember that coaching is a wonderful teaching opportunity and, therefore, insist/demand that all players are present for each practice.
9) SHS coaches remember that boys want to feel professional.
10) SHS coaches display passion and knowledge about their sport.
11) SHS coaches are totally prepared for each game.
12) SHS coaches insist on a disciplined approach and demand complete discipline from all their players.
13) SHS coaches ensure uniforms are in good shape and that each player looks great for each game.
14) SHS coaches ensure that players’ deportment is excellent for all away games.
15) SHS coaches take pride in how their team is depicted on the website.
16) SHS coaches make a substantial effort to ensure their team’s information is updated on the website (kudos to Colin and Kevin Boyle for a great Midget Basketball web page).
17) SHS coaches prepare a summary and reflection after the season, which is posted on their team component of the SHS website.
18) SHS coaches communicate effectively with their players’ teachers and parents.
19) SHS coaches support the Athletic Director and demand his support in return.
Again, this represents my own personal thoughts, but it is a basis by which we can move forward.
Clearly, we need to build on what we have and create sustainable athletic greatness.