#ADgrind: The #ADreadingchallenge

Today’s post isn’t as practical as our previous ones. It’s also probably a bit more entertaining than others. However, if you’re committed to continuous development as an athletic director – and more importantly, as a person – then you’ll be interested in this.

The Challenge

Every January millions of people make New Year’s resolutions. Every year millions of resolutions are broken.

A year ago today I set a goal (not a resolution) to read thirty-five books in 2014. That may not sound like a lot to you, but it was for me. I probably averaged three to five books a year previously.

I refused to call it a resolution because they get broken. I called it a goal because goals get met.

As of December 28, 2014, I met the goal of thirty five books in 2014.

Reading so many books in various categories and genres really helped me to grow as a person. I read books for leisure, professional development, and most importantly, spiritual growth.

So here it is, athletic director. Here it is, coach. TheAthleticDirectors.com challenges you to read more in 2015 than you ever have in previous years. Your goal may be fifteen; your goal may be fifty. Whatever it is, set it and start tearing into it!

The easiest excuse to make would be that you don’t have time to read. Trust me when I say that I am no more or no less busy than you are.

However, write down your goal and be intentional about finding time to read.

If you’re accepting the AD Reading Challenge, tweet at us using the @theADsonline handle. Tell us your goal and hashtag it with #ADgrind and #ADreadingchallenge. Looking forward to hearing from our fellow ADs and coaches!

A couple rules:

  • re-reads are acceptable, as long as it has been a significant amount of time since you last read the book
  • consider the book length, anyone can read fifty ebooks in a year
  • tweet us any books that you think should be included in the AD Reading List that we’re compiling this year


The rest of this post is probably more entertainment. You can stop reading now if you want.


My Year in Reading

Here is my reading list from 2014 if you’re looking for ideas. I’ve also included some relevant or irrelevant thoughts on the book.


Alex Ferguson: My AutobiographyAlex Ferguson

As a Tottenham Hotspur fan, reading a book by a Manchester United man was stomach churning. However, his insights into leadership and bringing an athletic culture from dismal to dominating were solid. Mild language throughout.


Toughness: Developing True Strength On and Off the Court, Jay Bilas

I hate Duke, but I love the Bilastrator. Toughness was a bit redundant, but it was a good read with several great quotes and illustrations. Recommended for high schoolers in athletics.


Any Given Monday: Sports Injuries and How to Prevent Them for Athletes, Parents, and Coaches – Based on My Life in Sports Medicine, Dr. James Andrews

This book should be on every AD’s shelf. Andrews breaks down almost every sport you can think of, lists the most common injuries found in that sport, and then includes preventative measures and treatment for those injuries. Great reference.


Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis

If you know of someone who is interested in Christianity but can’t get past the leap of faith, then you need to give them this book. It’s also a good one for you to read yourself.


In Search of Deep Faith: A Pilgrimage into the Beauty, Goodness and Heart of Christianity, Jim Belcher

I bought this book knowing nothing about it, but I wasn’t let down. Belcher tells the story of how he sought to instill deep faith in himself and his young family. The Belchers traveled to Europe to visit the sites of famous Christians like Lewis, Bonhoffer, and Ten Boom. One thing I didn’t like was how he acted like everyone has the opportunity to quit working for a year and a half and RV around Europe. Gas ain’t free, Jim.


<48 Days to the Work You Love: Preparing for the New Normal, Dan Miller

Um, I guess you could read this if you want. It’s about stuff like getting started, making investments, and being businessy. I honestly don’t remember much about it.


The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis

If I didn’t know what to read next, Lewis was kind of my go to author. Screwtape was legit. The perspective from which Lewis tells the story is very interesting and insightful. While reading this, I couldn’t help but thinking what an awesome tv show/miniseries this would make. The BBC should get on this immediately.


Blog, Inc.: Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community, Joy Cho

I was considering starting a blog, so I read this book. It was helpful, and I guess we all know the rest of the story.


Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, Michael Hyatt

A must read for anyone looking to expand their influence in their field.


Jump Your Shadow: Doing Brave Things in a Broken World, Dr. Phil Johnson

If you’ve never heard of Phil Johnson or globalNext, look them up. I always look forward to hearing him speak. Both of his books Jump Your Shadow and The Leadership Paradox, challenge conventional wisdom and perceptions of what true leadership looks like.


Relentless: From Good to Great to UnstoppableTim Grover

Tim Grover is a nut job with probably the most overtly humanistic worldview I’ve ever encountered. He’s best known for training Michael Jordan and Dwyane Wade. His thoughts on rehab and strength training were helpful and thought provoking. His philosophy of life was down-right evil. An example of how bad: he would read this assessment of his book and say something like, “that’s why that guy is a spineless loser teaching junior high science.”


Mind Gym : An Athlete’s Guide to Inner Excellence, Gary Mack and David Casstevens

I grabbed this book when I mistook it for Mindset which I have yet to read. Anyway, basically it just says if you can believe it, you can achieve it. I’d give it two stars out of five.


Concussions and Our Kids: America’s Leading Expert on How to Protect Young Athletes and Keep Sports Safe, Robert Cantu

This book was huge for me in 2014. So much so, that it led to two blog post on TheAthleticDirectors.com. Check out the book, or read our posts to get the main points. (read the posts anyway!)


Cross Over: The New Model of Youth Basketball Development, Brian McCormick

Brian McCormick is the expert on teaching youth basketball. By youth basketball I mean high school and under. He has coached at literally every level. I’d like to see more Christian schools adopt his philosophies regarding youth sports. Crossover dealt with how a developmental model of basketball in the United States should look and operate.


Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American DreamDavid Platt

Platt is the former pastor of Brook Hills church in Alabama. He now serves on the missions council of the Southern Baptist Convention. I’d heard a lot about Radical. It did not disappoint as it challenged my view of what living for God looks like.


Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus, Kyle Idleman

If you like Stuff Christians Like then you’ll appreciate reading Not a Fan. Idleman talks about how he is “not a fan” of Jesus…. he’s something else.


Game On: The All-American Race to Make Champions of Our Children, Tim Farrey

One of the best reads of 2014. Game On sheds the light on youth sports in America. Comparing and contrasting American youth sports with European, South American, and Australian models, Farrey looks at what we do well and what we should do differently. (answer: almost everything) Entering the youth sports world as a father for the first time in a few years, Game On gave me lots to think about.


The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance, David Epstein

Nature or nurture? What makes a great athlete? Epstein seeks to answer this question in his book. Exhaustive research went into this work. It was a bit tedious and boring from time to time, but I enjoyed it.


Coaching Champions: The Privilege of Mentoring, Jess Gibson

This book was literally a yard sale item. I saw it and thought, “well I’ve never coached champions before, maybe I should give this guy a shot.” It was a good read, although I would argue that it is mis-titled. Most of the book talked about mentoring. Either way, I’ve used it in my teaching, leading, and coaching this school year. In other words: well worth the twenty-five cents.


The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life, A.W. Tozer

I say this with all respect to Mr. Tozer, but this book was a mental slog. I couldn’t handle reading it in bulk. Therefore, I used it in my devotions reading a chapter a day. Once I started that, I was able to make it through. Tozer does as well as any human can at explaining who/what God is.


Whose Game Is It, Anyway?: A Guide to Helping Your Child Get the Most from Sports, Organized by Age and Stage, Ginsburg, Durant, and Baltzell

I found this one in our public library. The authors talk about parents in youth sports. They have a few case studies (which were pretty boring). Lots of the discussion focused on athlete burn-out. It even led to a few articles on TheAthleticDirectors.com.


The Leadership Paradox: Leading in Unexpected and Extraordinary Ways, Dr. Phil Johnson

See: Jump Your Shadow


In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars, Mark Batterson

This was book was recommended to all the coaches that attended Coach T’s Championship Basketball Camp this summer at Lee University. Coach T said, “if you read one book this year, make it this one.” To which I thought, “I’m reading thirty-five so… ok.” Batterson talks about chasing problems and difficult circumstances instead of avoiding them.


Burn Your Goals: The Counter Cultural Approach to Achieving Your Greatest Potential, Joshua Medcalf and Jamie Gilbert

I do understand the irony of reading a book titled Burn Your Goals while I’m trying to accomplish a goal. The book, however, is not a case for apathy. Medcalf and Gilbert talk about the value in treasuring the effort and the process over the results. It’s a book about pure intrinsic motivation. I agree with them on roughly 87% of what they preach. Check them out at traintobeclutch.com. They have their own reading challenge too.


The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis

Still not totally sure what this was about. Not my favorite from old Clive, but it was interesting to say the least.


To Kill a Mockingbird, 50th Anniversary Edition, Harper Lee

When I told my wife of the thirty-five book goal she forced me to put To Kill a Mockingbird on the list. I reluctantly read it in October. It turned out to be one of the better ones of the year. Lee is a great author, and the story was especially interesting in light of this year’s racial and social issues.


The Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling

I feel sorry for you if you don’t have enough Kipling in your life.


Young, Restless, No Longer Reformed: Black Holes, Love, and a Journey In and Out of Calvinism, Austin Fischer

Fischer writes a solid argument for the case of Arminianism. Growing up in independent fundamental Baptist circles, I enjoyed hearing a scholarly defense of “whosoever will.”


What is Reformed Theology?: Understanding the Basics, R.C. Sproul

Since I read Fischer’s book I figured I needed to hear the argument from the other side. Sproul breaks down the common misconceptions of Calvinism. He also explains in detail the five points of TULIP. Where do I stand on the issue between these two books? I suppose somewhere in the middle. It was refreshing to read both.


1984 (Signet Classics), George Orwell

I had never read 1984; I only knew the basics about the book. I really couldn’t put this one down. It was very suspenseful, and it was ominous in an eerie way. The ending surprised me; I’ll leave it at that. Mild language throughout.


Soup: A Recipe to Nourish Your Team and Culture, Jon Gordon

It seemed like a lot of people in my social media circle were all reading this one at the same time. I saw lots of great quotes on twitter so I threw it on the list. I have to say that I wasn’t a fan. Gordon’s leadership thoughts were on point, but I guess I wasn’t into the whole fictional-story-to-illustrate-a-point method. Just wasn’t my style.


The Call of the Wild, Jack London

Because sled dogs. Do you even know the story of the Iditarod, bro?


Already Gone: Why your kids will quit church and what you can do to stop it, Ken Ham and Britt Beemer

This one has been out for a while and is a favorite among youth ministers. I had always meant to read it. Beemer and Ham surveyed one thousand young adults that had left conservative evangelical churches and reported the interpretation of the data. Most of us are Christian educators; for this reason, I would highly recommend reading this book. We need to do a better job connecting the relevancy of the Bible to everyday faith and life.


The 21st Century Basketball Practice: Modernizing the basketball practice to develop the global player., Brian McCormick

McCormick’s newest book addresses the concept of fake fundamentals in basketball. He challenges coaches to do a better job teaching decision making. What I appreciated most about this book was its practicality. The appendix is filled with drills and descriptions of ways to coach basketball decision making. Check it out if you’re a basketball coach.


Holy Bible: King James Version, God

Confession: up until yesterday morning I had never read the Bible cover to cover. I would estimate that I had read 75% of it before 2014. Reading it all the way through, though, was an immense blessing. If you’re like I was and you haven’t read God’s word cover to cover, start this year. Make it your goal for 2015.


There you have it. Those are what kept me busy this year. Like I said, it was a year of growth for me. A lot of it had to do with this goal. Don’t forget to tweet us your goal. Happy reading!



Jeff is the athletic director at Victory Baptist Academy. He is also the founder and administrator of TheAthleticDirectors.com.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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