The Coach's Revolving Door
by Paul Thomson, Drake Women's Tennis, 14 July 2011
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In the movie The Cowboys John Wayne's character, Wil Anderson last dying words to the adopted group of young boys he hired to drive his cattle to market were these:
Coach Paul Thomson addresses his players
courtesy, Drake Athletics
"Every man wants his sons to grow up to be a better man than he was. You are."
With those words, he took his last breath and passed to the hereafter. There is a great deal to be said about that line - from what I think is one of the greatest movies ever made about growing up, maturing, and doing the right things. Those words are - and should be - the goals of all parents, coaches and teachers. We should all want to have our children, players and pupils grow up to be better people and leaders than we have been.
College coaches have many duties, and among these are building successful programs, developing athletes, and winning contests. But they hold a deal more responsibility than that. As a coach, I have a responsibility to each player - and the parents of that player - to push them towards being successful both on the courts and as individuals. Sure, we want to win, and we want our kids to be victorious on the courts and fields of play. But we can win every match and every title and still not fulfill our roles as coaches.
One of the biggest things I tell the student-athletes and parents I am recruiting is that I see myself as a revolving door. The parents have their sons and daughters for 17,18 maybe 19 years. Then, all of a sudden, they are out of the house, away from home and on campus under my guidance for four, maybe five years. I see this time as a revolving door.
This idea of the revolving door encompasses a huge responsibility and commitment. As the cells of the revolving door go around, each one represents a different year of college and a different level of growth. All are equally important and vital to the athletes. And once they leave that last cell of my revolving door, it spits them into the real world. That's often a reality check for those who aren't prepared. But while they are with me I am responsible for them, I am their leader, their support - and I am their path to the future.
The first cell of the door is the freshman year - the trust and belief cell. The freshman year is where the trust in a coach by his player and the player's family is fortified. It is so vital to show genuineness: that I have the best interest and intentions for the player and the team. Once that trust is established, a coach can really begin to build upon that student athlete. Fortifying confidence and purpose early goes a long way. Getting players to believe in themselves as well as their abilities is a primary goal for coaches. Most of all, once a player trusts me, that player will understand that my motives are golden even when they do not understand my methods.