Monday, December 15, 2014

Instant Communication and Social Media

We live in an era of Instant Communication and Social Media:  Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc......A person can post a video or pic right off the phone and right out to the world instantly, texts, emails and all sorts of instant communication have made the world smaller and have tremendous potential for good!
The flip side of all of this is it also allows us all to be a little too "Self Important" and for every great twitter account and website practicing integrity, there is one banking on shock factor with no regard for the consequence.  I remember years ago talking to a reporter, who openly bragged about getting a coach fired because of an article he wrote, I was appalled that this was a bragging point, but heck if he uncovered a real transgression that warranted dismissal, well good job buddy.
The problem is where is the line drawn between reality and a funny twitter or facebook post by  somebody with a fake account.   With all this out there we live in a very strange time, when many actually really enjoy having a major negative impact on good hardworking peoples lives and hiding behind the cloak of social media!   Modern electronic communication is a wonderful thing let's just use it wisely and be responsible for what you put out there and realize it's affect on peoples lives.

Monday, December 8, 2014

"Laundry"

In my years as a Women's Tennis Coach,  I have developed a phrase called "Laundry Schools".  This was born out of a conversation I had a long time ago with a Coach who had left a lower profile D one school to take the job at The University of North Carolina (No it was not the current UNC coach).   She said to me "It is amazing how much of a better coach I have become in the week since I put on this UNC polo!  Is UNC a "laundry' school?  You are darn right it is and by that I mean you are going to attract a certain level of recruit just by virtue of the name.  Does that mean you are going to win a National title there every other year there?  No because there are several laundry schools that you are having to compete with.  In my nearly 30 years of coaching only one non laundry school as ever won a national championship in Women's Tennis, Georgia Tech in 2007.
I am going to name  the laundry schools in women's tennis: Stanford, Duke, UCLA, UNC, USC, Florida, Texas, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Northwestern, Michigan, Virgina, Georgia, Cal and possibly Pepperdine.....these are all schools that will get top players no matter who is coaching there.....Of this group of laundry schools the ones who consistently achieve the highest are the ones who are coached best and the ones who do the best job of selecting, please notice I said selecting not recruiting.   Is there a pecking order amongst laundry schools? Yes, absolutely and I will comfortably say that Stanford, Duke, UCLA and USC are at the top of that list, if you think it's a coincidence they are mostly small private and academic you are wrong.  If you are not  small, private and Academic, you will get on the laundry list by location and/or being a highly rated public school academically.   While I hate to ever speak in absolutes, this is about as absolute as you can get.

Friends and Colleagues

Over my many years in coaching I have established many "professional" friendships.  I  also have a select few that are much closer than that.  I have a  group coaching friends that I share a lot with and we  have helped each other immensely as we  navigate our  way thru a profession that has become more expectation and bottom line  driven than ever.
Preventing the stress of our jobs from dripping over into our private lives is at times a challenge.  I am glad to say that my select group of friends and colleagues has helped me greatly in this.   We often make the mistake of thinking that we are the only ones with issues regarding: motivating, recruiting, discipline, compliance, teaching, mentoring and guiding student athletes.  The fact is we all do.
The axiom that "you don't know who your true friends are until you face adversity" is so true.  It also helps to have a group of colleagues you can open up to and allow them to know you and understand the struggles we face on a regular basis but also understand the "gift" we have to coach at a high level a  game we have loved since we were kids.  My only regret (and it is a big one),  is that due to the nature of our business my great "friends/colleagues" are scattered all over the country and I don't see them near as often as I would like.  Technology has made the world much smaller and we do connect regularly.
I am very lucky to have a great group of friends and I am so proud that they are some of the best in our business!  I can't convey enough how much this has helped me over the years.   One of my favorite sayings is "You only get, what you give!'  and no where is it more apparent than with friendships.  If you judge a person by the company they keep then I will be judged well because of this extraordinary group!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Big Dance

I love the fact that nearly 20 years ago the NCAA expanded the field for it's Women's Tennis Championship to 64 and like basketball making the field as an "at large" selection is one of the hardest things to accomplish in Collegiate athletics, their are over 300 Division one tennis programs and each year only 30 or so make as an "at large" selection. It is true measure of success in a season. While I am happy and proud that I have Coached two separate teams to the NCAA Women's Tennis Tournament and made it to a regional final at both places (twice at Purdue, and once so far at Utah, first and only times ever at both places) My good friends and Colleagues Mark Guilbeau and Michael Hegarty have done me one better, Mark has taken two separate teams to the final 16: Kentucky (at least twice, with af a final 8 mixed in)and Virginia twice so far. Michael Hegarty had accomplished something no Coach has ever done: in taking both a men's team (Fresno St) and a Women's Team (Arkansas, final 8). It is very cool to do something that has never been done. Both these guys are friends and I a better Coach and person for knowing them! I will get to Athens a little early this year to support Mark in his quest to take the Cavs to the final four and beyond!?!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Team Building

Previously I have talked about many things that can affect the concept of Team Building. In my mind team building begins during the recruiting process as we as coaches go out to try to find and convince young women to join us here at the University of Utah. If you are going to do a good job of team building you must recruit young women who have the skills necessary to thrive in a team environment. Some coaches feel very strong about doing a lot of team building activities....I am not a huge advocate of that....However I am very much an advocate of putting all the challenges to team unity on the table and dealing with them in an open matter.....What might some of those be? Selfishness (Big in a wealthy persons sport like tennis!), "In your face" competitiveness (I love it, so they have to deal with that cause I am not going to make it go away), passive aggressive behavior (Get it out in the open and deal with it!), Oh and one of my favorites: female stereotypes regarding open dialogue, recently I had a player defend this by saying "you know coach we are girls!" to which I replied no you are not you are Young Women and I expect adult like behavior and that things get dealt with in a "grown up" manner.
In it's simplest form team building involves respecting and getting along with others.....If I want to like you I can focus on the things about you I really like about you and easily find common ground.....If I don't to like you I can focus in on what annoys me about you and easily not like you and have "good" reason not to.
In closing I once said winning is the "magic bullet" the van ride shorter after a win, the food tastes better after a win, the person next to you smells less after a win etc.....but the real challenges to team unity come after a loss. I say judge me on how I handle adversity that is my true measure and I hope by handling it with dignity my team learns from me.....I also know that if they see how much I care about each one of them they will care about each other! As a coach you must take responsibility for team building and sometimes taking responsibility is making the team accountable in this area!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Stress

Several years ago Dick Gould told me he learned to embrace that tightness in the pit of his stomach before a big match......Which got me to thinking.....Why? Answer came to me quickly, many of us spend so much of our lives avoiding or trying to avoid stress rather then accepting it as inevitable and learning to deal with and even embrace because let me tell you.....If you were perfectly relaxed going into that board meeting, speaking engagement, exam, match, date or whatever does the outcome mean as much? No, very likely not. Stress comes from a true desire to succeed and we can play all the mind games in the world to avoid it or we can accept it and learn effective ways to deal with it! What Dick was basically telling me is he loves the challenge and is totally prepared to deal with the stress that entails. Learn to us stress to work for you and you will be more successful! Don't shy away from or run from it!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

PAC 10!

Last Week the University of Utah was invited to join the PAC 10.....An invitation that was readily accepted! I did not leave Purdue and come to Utah three years ago with this being a possibility but with the success we have had in the last 3 years, particularly last year (Mountain West Conference Champs). I feel we are ready for the challenge.
I feel like I have come full circle as I started my Women's Coaching Career as Assistant at Cal closely followed by a stint at UCLA. So in a way I am coming home....I know what it takes to win in our new league and while it is not going to be easy, I am thrilled to have the opportunity. I have many good friends who coach in the PAC 10 and a lot of respect for the coaches in arguably the finest Women's Tennis Conference in the land. I do feel that I have worked very hard over my career to prepare myself to compete at the highest level as a coach....I also believe that without Dr. Chris Hill our AD this would have never happened.
In short I am very thankful for this opportunity but I am also sure that I am ready. GO UTES!