As I reflected on my first year as a head baseball coach…. Not one official practice, not one game played, no chance for a Henry County Title, didn’t get to compete to win our conference, we didn’t get the unforgettable experience of competing in the IHSAA tournament. What a disappointing first year, right? Then I realized I was looking past the many weeks/days/hours of work our player’s put in during our offseason program together. I reflected on the first call out meeting, standing in front of 30 high school athletes eager to start the journey with me. We began our offseason baseball program at the beginning of December consistently having 12-16 players attend, many of them freshman but also several returning players ready to take on the role of leaders. It was exciting, players were making great progress and coaches were learning their roles of guiding players towards our season. They were showing signs of a leader and most of them didn’t even know it.
During this time of reflection, I came across a quote from Minnesota Gophers head football coach PJ Fleck.
Bad teams… Nobody leads.
Average teams… The coach’s lead.
Elite teams… The players have to lead.
I could not agree more with this quote/philosophy from coach Fleck and now more than ever, you as players must take on roles of a leader! Many players will handle the current quarantine situation differently. Some will likely struggle to figure out how to make themselves better, but some players will take it upon themselves to put in work and make the best of the situation.
Looking at some characteristics of a good leader, how can you practice leadership during this time??
Support/Encouragement/Inspiration: Reach out to fellow players, even those you may not yet have a relationship with. Talk to them about how they’re handling their time and share what you’re doing with yours. Encourage them to develop a plan to continue to work while inspiring them to be better!
Vision: How do you want to come out of this time of separation better? Through the methods of support and encouragement, create a vision towards what can be accomplished now to make yourself prepared for when teams can resume activity.
Set the example: One of the easiest ways to lead and motivate others is through examples of your own. Sharing the work you’re putting in is likely to push others to do the same.
I miss the opportunity of coaching our Raider athletes! I’m eager to return to our sport. Until then, reach out to each other, lead each other together through this strange time and make sure you don’t leave anyone behind!
Varsity Baseball Coach