Our school hired a new teacher/coach for the upcoming school year. I’m very excited, but also kind of bummed out. Since the new coach is coming, I won’t be needed as much in some of our sports. While I look forward to the freeing up of my schedule, I’m a little hesitant to step out of some of the sports that I had been coaching. Most of this is because I’m a control freak, but another huge reason is that I truly enjoy interacting with young people in an athletic setting. I hate thinking that I might be losing opportunities to make an impact.
People have asked me if I would ever want to be an athletic director at a bigger school or a college or something like that. The answer is “absolutely… but I’ll still be able to coach, right?”
I don’t think I would ever want to take a job where I wasn’t coaching. That could change, but right now it’s how I feel. I mean, I’m even struggling with a lessening of coaching responsibilities. I don’t think I could be done with it altogether.
However, as a school grows, athletic directors are often afforded the luxury of more administrative duties and less coaching duties. This is probably not the case for most of our readers, but I’m sure many of us coach less now that we are ADs.
The question that I’m now forced to face is this:
How can I serve God and minister to our school’s athletes by making a lasting impact while coaching less?”
I’m writing this article to myself today to help me sort through my thoughts and set up a plan for dealing with coaching less and administrating more. Hopefully it helps you as well.
Get as much face time as possible.
Coach a team if you have the opportunity; but if you can’t, make sure the athletes at your school see your face as much as possible.
Visit practices. Go on a road trip with a team you don’t spend much time with. Take time to encourage and engage individual athletes on a daily basis. Be creative and be intentional.
People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Be every athlete’s biggest fan. Look for opportunities to pour into their lives.
Make sure that your face time with them is in a positive context as much as possible. This will help if you ever have to deal with an issue.
If you want to have an impact, don’t just sit in your office. Get out and engage your athletes.
Seek to provide a quality program.
Always strive to offer the sports program that your athletes can be proud of. Don’t settle for second best.
Most of the time you are judged by your actions and how those actions affect others. Students will attribute the status of your athletic department to you. They obviously don’t know all the things that an AD does to keep the ship sailing smoothly, but they’ll know whether or not you care to do things in a first class way.
Don’t be scared and think that your department needs to spend more money in order to offer a quality program. Just think through how things are perceived. If you want to impact athletes don’t make them feel like second class citizens.
Treat every sport as “the most important sport” and every athlete as “the most important athlete.”
This may sound like similar to our last point, and it is. But it is a bit different. The last point had to do with how you manage the athletic department. This point deals with how you lead the athletic department.
If you want to have an impact on athletes from the AD’s office then you need to do the right thing and support each sport and it’s participants wholeheartedly.
Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” – Peter Drucker
Kids will notice whether or not you are fair. I struggle with this as an AD. Obviously, I’m going to look out for the teams that I coach. We all need to do our best to make sure that every athlete and every sport is valued.
I recently received a thank-you card from an athlete that only participated on our track team his senior year. He was involved in some field events. He worked hard, but he never really competed for any medals.
The kids at our school know that their athletic director does NOT get out of bed in the morning for track and field. (there’s literally 1,000 things I would get out of bed for before track)
The thank you card that he gave me told me how much he appreciated all that I did for the athletic department. He reference all the sports not just his one year as a track athlete. He thanked me for caring about his endeavors as much as the other athletes.
He had a coach who was very committed and poured into his life, but he still thanked me additionally because he saw me at all his meets. Even when the field events were early in the morning and the rest of the team wasn’t showing up until the running events started.
He noticed that I cared about him individually as well as the whole team.
I could have just managed track and field. Schedule a few meets. Make sure we have a place to practice. Done. However, I exercised an opportunity to lead in the athletic department. Clearly, it made a small impact in one athlete’s life.
Ok enough tooting my own horn. Moving onto the last two points…
Lead by example.
We’ve said before that if the only way you lead is by example, then you are a poor leader. This is so true. However, we need to make sure that in addition to being an intentional leader, that our lives and the way we work speak about what we value.
I’m sure many of us can think of people that we didn’t have a bunch of personal interaction with but still were impacted by the way they lived their life.
You can have an impact on athletes without ever blowing a whistle by doing simple things. Here are just a few:
- showing up on time
- working in an organized, deliberate way
- looking and acting professional
- being polite
- making quick, smart decisions
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he shall not depart from it.” – Proverbs22:6 KJV
Be sure to set an example for your athletes by living and leading the way in which you want them go.
This last point is short and sweet. Servant leadership has a far greater impact than just directing.
In fact, think of you job title as “athletic servant” rather than “athletic director.”
Always look for opportunities to serve your athletes, coaches, fans, and families. What better way to show Christ’s love? What better way to make an impact from the AD’s office.