Rodney Walker, Head Coach at Central High School, Evansville, IN
The Right Fit? You either are, or you will learn that you are not. Hopefully, through some proper preparation, you learn that the job you are preparing for has to be the right one for you.
As a young coach, I simply learned boys were much better for me to coach than girls. Not because I disliked coaching girls, but I enjoyed the pace of the boys game better. I learned more coaching girls for several years than I did all five years of coaching boys prior. After my experience, I realized how much more I had to learn about the game and how to be patient. While I still have much, much more to learn about that word – I share an analogy with you about a vegetable familiar to me.
The Seed – Experiences
Gain as many experiences as you can to be a sponge. As Coach Scott Hudson (Head Girls Coach at Wapahani High School) always said, “You gotta soak it all up, Coach.” Eighteen years of soaking it up at various and very differing levels allowed that. We live in a society where there is a natural race to get to the top. Guys want to be the best without the work. We want to be given more than we sometimes deserve for our work and sacrifices. From sixth grade basketball in 2000 through junior varsity basketball in 2018, experiences piled up and a foundation was set for growth. Basketball camps, coaching clinics, and being on a staff all give that soil the nutrients we need. Conditions have to be optimal for the seed, and you have to find the right fit for you.
The Stalk – Relationships
So, you are beginning to grow and mold into your individual self – now what? You are your own unique ~You~ Take the right step for you. Not every coach is meant to be a head coach.
One word that is emphasized in life that means so much to me is – Relationships. As a teacher, we get to know the secretary and the janitor very quickly. They are the people who get things done, or may be able to get you an extra hour in the gym while you’re waiting on your game uniforms to dry at 12 a.m. on a Tuesday night. We want to have great people surrounding our kids as they grow, just as the soil helps the stalk get stronger and become a plant. Those great people become your assistants, your managers, and eventually your friends.
The Corn – Intrinsic Reward
Growing up the son of a farmer, I chose to work in the field at Pioneer Seed for ten years. The work was strenuous and taught a lot of responsibility. I learned that the fruit of your labor comes one time, and we can easily compare that to living life. If you do the proper things as a young seed, you can grow into a strong stalk, and then produce a fine product. This is everyone’s goal as a coach. Producing a fine player is satisfying, but producing a fine young man is the reason for doing it. Enjoy the fertilizing, the watering, the sun, and then reap your reward of the smile you see ten years down the road. You can’t have the fruit before the seed – embrace the process. Resolve conflict, remove distractions, confront problems, and don’t forget to be the ‘watering can’ of praise.
The Stalk – Complacency
Once you are on top, you can become susceptible. Just as the stalk becomes susceptible after the fruit has been taken, we have to become certain not to forget the hard work that it takes to be consistently efficient. Still be the seed who wants to learn, and the stalk that remains strong. Soaking it up is what got you there – don’t change who you are for a job you’re not comfortable in.
I appreciate the opportunity to share with you, and for Coach Heath Howington. He was kind to reach out, and I enjoyed writing an article for Feel for the Game. Many wonderful coaches donating their time for all of our benefit. Thank you!
If I can ever be of help to any of you, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Evansville Central Boys Basketball Coach