Brandon Allman, Brownstown Central High School, Brownstown, IN
How much different could things really be moving just a couple of seats down the bench? Being the freshmen boys basketball coach, I already plan my own practices, take care of paperwork, transportation to and from games, and coach my games. Plus, I attend every varsity practice and game. I also have coached varsity boys’ and girls’ golf for many years. However as I found out in year one as head varsity basketball coach at Brownstown Central, it is more difficult than I ever imagined but a lot of fun, so here are a few lessons I learned from year one hoping it might help some future head coaches and maybe even a veteran or two.
Lesson #1: Be Thankful for the Job You Have
I know this is much easier to say now during all of the chaos we are currently experiencing with Covid-19, but I am truly thankful for the opportunity that was afforded to me by the Brownstown administration. To quote Coach Nathan Fleenor, “It’s okay to be patient. It has to be the right fit for you.” This has resonated with me since his Coach’s Roundtable presentation. I had been in coaching for 13 years, 10 of those at Brownstown when I decided to take my first varsity job. I have been presented with several opportunities to become a head coach for other programs, but turned them down because they were just not the right fit for me. I am also beyond thankful for those administrators for allowing me to grow as a coach during the interview process. All of those years helped prepare me for the challenges and responsibilities of being head coach. Most importantly, just thankful my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has put me in this position to help young people.
Lesson #2: Be You and Go to Work
I have had the distinguished opportunity to play for and coach under Dave Benter, who is hands down one of the best in the business. He is my mentor and go-to for any questions I might have, but at the end of the day I am not him and I have to be myself and run the program with my touch with what works for my coaching style. Always take, steal, and use whatever you can, but put your own touch or emphasis on it to benefit your team. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and lean on other coaches; most are more than willing to help. I know it is cliche, but treat every job like it is your dream job or your last job (never know what is going to happen) and to paraphrase Merle Haggard, keep your nose on the grindstone and work hard every day.
Lesson #3: Have to be Organized
Trust me I am still working a ton on this one! Organization might be the most difficult one for me. If you come into my office, most of the time my desk is completely covered with stuff; some say that is a mark of a genius though. In all seriousness, the stuff behind the scenes is what wears me down at times. All of the paperwork,fundraisers, ordering of materials, scheduling spring/summer/fall stuff, meetings, and all of the in-season scheduling is extremely difficult and frustrating. Sometimes I wish I could hire my own secretary. However, it has taught me to become more organized by taking more notes and creating calendars to stay more organized. Make sure you have your player/parent expectations set up and clearly communicated to help alleviate any issues that may occur or help you get out ahead of them.
Lesson #4: Delegation
Another area that I have to continue to improve on is delegating tasks to my assistants and players. One other tough aspect of year one was selecting loyal, supportive, and dedicated assistants. I am confident I have done that, so I need to become better at handing off some of the responsibilities to them. Give them jobs to do and things to focus on. I was guilty of trying to do everything on my own because that is my mentality. Also, it is important to give players control to do some things as well. I take the approach that it is not “my” team; it is “our” team. The more influence the players have the more buy-in they will have. For instance, my two seniors have already taken leadership leading Zoom workouts with their teammates.
Lesson #5: You Must Have Support and Balance
Don’t let the job completely consume you! If you do, it won’t be fun anymore. I’m a firm believer that you have to enjoy what you are doing. You must have balance in your home life and family life. You must have a spouse that loves and supports you and wants you to achieve your goals. I have never made my wife attend my games, but she seems to make it to every one of them. She pushes me to be the best version of myself and takes care of the kids during the busy season. Most importantly, no matter what happens at practice or during a game, my two kids always bring a smile to my face. Do not neglect them and make it a priority to find time to spend with them. I also feel it is important to have them around our team; it is great for the players, but my children also get a bunch of role models to look up to. After all, we are all family. Winning a sectional and a regional would not mean much if I didn’t have family to share it with.
In closing, sometimes I wonder if all the time and hassle that coaches put into the season and off-season are worth it. However as coaches, we have a very unique job. Not only do we get to teach a game that we love, but we get to inspire and push young people to be the best versions of themselves they can be. If you make this job about yourself, you are not going to get nearly as much gratification if you make it about your players. Buy into them and let them know how much you care and how much work you put in for them, and in return, they will buy in to you and run through brick walls for you. Value the relationships that you make more than the victories.