This past weekend I was fortunate enough to attend the Minnesota Baseball Coaches clinic up in St. Louis Park. A variety of college and high school coaches gave some very good presentations in front of hundreds of other coaches from around the state of Minnesota.
Many of the presentations were helpful and gave a great amount of insight, but there was one in particular that stuck out to me. Paul Babcock discussed one of his former coaches, Gordie Gillespie.
Babcock discussed at length the different skills and qualities Gillespie dedicated himself to display to his team(s). Accountability, communication, determination, enthusiasm, competitiveness, pride, passion, you name it.
Babcock mentioned how much of an impact a coach can have on a life. He began his presentation screaming at the top of his lungs, “Do you know how important you are?” The amount of impact you can have on a student-athlete as a coach is truly endless.
Paul said Gillespie taught him to be the best version of you. Don’t wake up in the morning and try to be someone else, be the best you that you can be. Be kind, generous, work hard, play hard, practice hard. Be intelligent, stay determined. Hold yourself accountable.
As a coach myself this presentation as a whole gave me my own reminder that you need to remain invested in the player as a person. You cannot look at a player as an item, so to speak. Don’t necessarily focus on wins and losses, which sounds weird, but I have yet to find a former player of mine or another coach that remains focused on what their record was in high school. A coach that cares about you as a person is the guy I want to go to bat for. A coach should love his players.
Believe in your players, shout praise and whisper the criticisms. Make a “positive sandwich”. If a player screws up, which does happen, give a positive statement, coincide that with a piece of constructive criticism, and then finish the conversation with another positive. Believe in your players so that they can believe in themselves. A player with confidence is tons of fun to watch and be a part of.
Paul always said Gillespie was very calm, always prepared. If you play your game as best as you can and come prepared, it doesn’t matter what the other team does. Prepare yourselves. Nothing really rattled him or his teams, because they were prepared for it. Lead by example. Be what you want your players to be was his message to instill belief.
Gillespie also pushed integrity across the plate. He rather lose than cheat and wanted to act the way he wanted his players to act. In addition, one I liked in partciular was that the dugout was cleaner when you left than it was when you found it. This applies to everything in life, anytime you visit a place, clean it up and leave it nicer than it was when you found it.
Babcock also displayed how Gillespie would utilize bus rides, after wins and losses to talk with his players. Give themselves a brief game recap, or give them a pick-me-up, whatever. He also said to perform a position well, you have to teach also. I think this is great. Teach your upperclassmen the ins and outs of your program as they grow and then you can have many coaches on the team in addition to the coaching staff.
This was a great presentation that displayed wonderful story about the positive impact individuals can have on a person's path in life. There is something to be said about the way people handle adversity, challenges and negative encounters. It was also humbling to hear from someone who is thankful for these things vs the ongoing societal need for more, more, more.
As a current coach myself, I appreciated the amount of positive reinforcement and positive attitude as well as the sacrifices to make his players better as not just players, but people as well.
He didn’t care about his awards, his possessions, he cared about people, and the world needs more of that.