The dictionary defines the word coach as "one who instructs or trains players in the fundamentals of competitive sport and directs team strategy." That definition aptly describes what coaches do; however, coaches do much more. In reality, the roles and responsibilities attendant to being a coach encompass several dimensions.
Coaches expect players to improve daily and to be better tomorrow than they are today. In that regard, coaches have a responsibility to practice what they preach. Coaches must find ways to improve personally and professionally each day, and then convey that method of improvement to those they coach. Coaches must master traits such as commitment, compassion, trust, leadership, and perseverance.
Ethics and integrity must be a vital part of a coach's core values. Members of the American Football Coaches Association are obligated to adhere to the AFCA Code of Ethics. This chapter, "Coaching more than the Game,"
provides quotes from some of the greatest coaches of all time who make it very clear that as coaches we are to teach ethics and integrity by example. In their own style and in different ways, Tom Landry of the Dallas Cowboys, Tom Osborne of the University of Nebraska, Don Shula of the Miami Dolphins, Fisher DeBerry of the Air Force Academy, John Cooper of Ohio State, and Hayden Fry of the University of Iowa proclaimed that coaches have a responsibility to take the lead when it comes to ethics and integrity.
Joining the chorus supporting the coaches' obligation regarding ethics and integrity were the following legendary coaches: Terry Donahue of UCLA, Don James of the University of Washington, John Gagliardi of St. John University, Gordon Wood, a high school coach from Texas, and Bobby Bowden, the former coach of Florida State University. These renowned members of football's coaching community also provided their unsolicited comments urging their fellow coaches to accept the role of a father figure to their players, thereby affecting lives positively through the power of their influence.
Don Shula, whose exploits as the head coach of the Baltimore Colts and the Miami Dolphins are renowned, once said, "Young men in particular look to coaches as father figures or examples. A lot of young people do not have fathers, so the coach becomes that father figure. Make sure that you utilize every opportunity you have to help these young men move on successfully in life. Always think about the example you set for your players. You are responsible and everything you do should be done in a first-class way."
Don's statement proves the need for father figures and role models for our athletes are not just in high school and college, but even in the professional ranks. A lot is asked of coaches and they have huge responsibilities; therefore, coaches should ask themselves the following questions:
• Why am I coaching?
• Does my life reflect the way I coach?
• What do I want my legacy to be?
In summation, this chapter is a challenge to coaches and teachers to use the "Power of Their Influence" and intentionally coach "More than the Game."