I just got a phone call every parent dreads, “Dad, I’m OK- but we were in a car accident.”
My daughter is out in California for a wedding and she and two friends were driving from San Diego to San Francisco when they got rear ended by an 18 wheeler. Their rental car was totaled. They are a little beaten up but not enough to go to the hospital. The police gave them a ride to a hotel. They are trying to negotiate a new rental car and have no way to get down to rental car office.
We have an issue with my family that we have trouble asking for HELP when we may need it. My daughter is no exception. So when I told her that I had a friend out there near by and that I was happy to reach to him I fully expected her to say, “Nah, I got it.”. When she said, “Could you get me your friends numbers, we are having trouble dealing with the rental car place. It would be great to have a local contact.”
After saying Hello I said, “Dave, I have a favor. My daughter was in a car accident out there and she just needs a local contact to help navigate things.”
WITHOUT any hesitation he said, “Give me her number, tell me where she is. I am on the way.”
In our sport, we face challenges everyday. But because of the nature of our sport, we have friends and colleagues we can rely on.
Dave- I owe you one buddy. Thanks so much.
“He is going to be shocked we no longer want him.” “Come again?” I asked the college assistant coach seated across from me at lunch. “You flew across the country to meet him, and now you won’t recr…
Source: Talent Needs Character | James Leath
“He is going to be shocked we no longer want him.”
“Come again?” I asked the college assistant coach seated across from me at lunch. “You flew across the country to meet him, and now you won’t recruit him anymore?”
The coach had recently stopped for a day in another state to check in on one of their prospects, before arriving at my school in Florida.
“He is a great talent, he certainly has the skills needed to play for us,” said the coach. “Sadly, he just won’t fit in well with our culture. It’s sad how many kids we come across every year that we cannot recruit, and it has nothing to do with their ability.”
As the Head of Leadership at IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL, I have the privilege of having conversations with college recruiters from major universities every week. One of saddest topics we discuss are stories of top high school talent being passed over because of behavior off the field. High talent and low character is a poor combination.
I have heard these stories enough to feel compelled to write this so that it may be passed onto every high school athlete that dreams of playing in college. There are a lot of talented athletes out there, but talent alone will not land you a coveted roster spot. Your talent may get your foot in the door, but it takes a lot more to hit the field at the next level.
The recruiter is not there to see you tackle, throw, bump, spike, pitch, catch, hit, shoot, or pass for the thousandth time. He already knows your stats. He has already watched your highlight film and read all the press clippings. He has likely seen you play. What he is looking for are called intangibles, the things that cannot be easily measured, but make all the difference.
Of the countless conversations I have had with college recruiters, here are the most common questions recruiters are searching for answers to decide whether they should recruit you or not.
What are you doing when you think no one is watching?
Recruiters are not always wearing their school clothing. That guy in the corner of the weight room talking to your coach? He might be a recruiter on an unscheduled visit. That woman in the stands taking notes? She may be writing down the behavior she sees to report back to her head coach. The more talented you are, the more people are watching you to try and see what flaws you are hiding. How do you treat your teammates, coaches, parents, and officials? Do you make eye contact with your coach when she is talking? What is your body language like when things are not going well? This all matters, a lot!
Are you one thing in person, and another person online?
Social media is the microphone of your character, and whether you agree or not, you will be judged by what you post. Please, pause and think before you post! If you wouldn’t want it on a billboard so your grandma could read it, you probably shouldn’t post it online.
Colleges put a lot of research into your character, especially the high-profile sports such as football and basketball. Most schools have teams of people who use very creative tactics to comb through your social media feeds.
For example, I heard a story recently about a prospect who used a lot of racial slurs on his Twitter account. This recruit was shocked because his Twitter account was set to private. However, a few weeks prior to the recruiter’s visit, this prospect accepted a request to allow an account with a profile picture of a pretty girl. That account was actually owned by a guy named Chris. Once accepted as a follower, Chris was given access to that prospect’s entire feed. Chris also discovered that the recruit had a habit of ridiculing teammates online. The recruiter thought that prospect had the talent to play at the next level, but talent alone gets you nowhere.
Who are your biggest influences?
You will become like the people you hang out with the most. This includes who you follow on social media. Take a look at who you are following on social media sites, and in life, and unfollow those you do not wish to be associated with or become like.
Last year, I spoke to a coach about a 5-star baseball recruit being watched by all the major universities. That was until a news story came out about all the accounts this recruit was following on Twitter that promoted sexual assault towards women, drug use, and alcohol consumption. This recruit also had a Twitch account where he would play certain games that glorified abuse towards women and was recorded cheering when an explicit event would happen during the game. Not surprisingly, he ended up going to community college and getting kicked off his team halfway through the year.
Ask yourself, “If I were a coach, and I looked at the list of people influencing me, would I recruit me?” Be honest with yourself, because your potential future coach will be looking very closely at your influencers.
Are you a great teammate?
I coached varsity football for a number of years and had some decent talent under my supervision. I remember one recruiter visiting from a big school in Southern California to take a look at our star linebacker, maybe the best at his position I ever coached.
When the recruiter arrived, he was wearing boots, jeans, and a t-shirt. Nothing about what he was wearing gave away where he was from or connected him to his university. As I spoke to him in the corner of the weight room, he watched one particular athlete with great intensity. If he were to tell the story, this is how it would go:
“When I arrived at the school, I was taken directly to the weight room where our number one linebacker prospect was lifting with his team. He did not know who I was because I was wearing regular street clothes. I do this during all my visits because I don’t want to influence their normal routine just because I’m watching. I am sure the amount of weight he was squatting was impressive, but watching him squat was not what I flew 400 miles to observe. One thing I noticed was during every set, he had a spotter standing behind him just in case he needed help. This teammate was yelling encouragement during the prospect’s last few reps and helped him rack the bar.”
“After all three sets, sadly, I watched our recruit sit down and pull out his phone instead of returning the favor of spotting his teammate. His coach asked him to put his phone away after his first set. He did. He then pulled it back out after the second set. I stopped his coach from intervening again. We look for guys who can be trusted to do the things after being told once. During the third set, he finally put his phone down, but only because he saw his teammate struggling to finish his last few reps. This teammate was there for the prospect every rep. The prospect, however, did not spot him or encourage him, putting himself and those around him in danger. I began to question his ability to be a great teammate, and if he would fit in with our team. Then, when the workout was over, the coach blew the whistle to start cleaning up. The prospect headed straight for his cleats and walked out the door, never even making eye contact with me, and leaving his teammates to clean up and rack the weights. Definitely not a good fit for our culture.”
Do you make a good first impression?
One of the first things I teach all my athletes is the art of the handshake. Firm grip, eye contact, be fully present while you introduce yourself. I had a group of NBA prospects in my leadership class recently. I had been working with this particular group a few weeks so they knew how to enter a room, command presence, shake hands, make eye contact— all things that will set them apart from the hundreds of other NBA draft prospects.
A new guy showed up to campus and was put in my class. When he walked in, he gave me a handshake that could only be described as “a dead fish.” He mumbled his name and never really made eye contact. The class booed him and told him to “try it again,” pointing towards the door. He was confused and shocked that he was booed when he walked into the room. He came back in, did the same thing, and was again booed by his peers. Here was a phenomenal athlete, tall enough to have to duck when he entered the room, and he was getting booed for how he entered. I walked out with him the second time.
“Why are they booing?” he asked.
“Because you suck at entering a room.” I could see the confusion on his face. Then I saw a smile as he realized class had begun.
“How are you going to stand out if you enter a room like everyone else? And what’s with this handshake? Give me your hand,” I said.
I showed him a proper handshake and I encouraged him to walk across the room with purpose, introduce himself clearly, and look me in the eye when he shook my hand. Then I walked back into the classroom, shutting the door behind me.
The large man destined for the NBA walked in, smiled, and walked across the room with purpose. He shook my hand, looked me in the eye, and introduced himself clearly. The room full of other large men erupted in cheer.
You are always being watched—from the moment you get out of your car to the moment you leave the parking lot. The more talented you are, the more people pay attention. Give them a reason to remember you off the field, court, mat, or pool.
Do you “sweep the shed?”
The most successful sports team in the professional era is not the NY Yankees, or the Boston Celtics, or Real Madrid, but a team from a far less known sport. It is the New Zealand All Blacks in rugby, who have an astonishing 86% winning percentage and numerous championships to their name. In the outstanding book, Legacy, written about the All Blacks (the most winningest professional team in the history of modern sports), author James Kerr discusses one of their core values that epitomizes the selfless attitude.
It’s called “Sweep the Shed.”
You see the goal of every All Blacks player is to leave the national team shirt in a better place than when he got it. His goal is to contribute to the legacy by doing his part to grow the game and keep the team progressing every single day.
In order to do so, the players realize that you must remain humble, and that no one is too big or too famous to do the little things required each and every day to get better. You must eat right. You must sleep well. You must take care of yourself on and off the field. You must train hard. You must sacrifice your own goals for the greater good and a higher purpose.
You must sweep the shed.
After each match, played in front of 80,000 plus fans, in front of millions on TV, after the camera crews have left, and the coaches are done speaking, when the eyes of the world have turned elsewhere, there is still a locker room to be cleaned.
…by the players!
If the New Zealand All Blacks are sweeping their locker room, then why aren’t you out there helping younger players, picking up cones, arriving first and leaving last, and setting the example for others? Are you leaving the uniform in a better place, or counting the days until they retire your jersey?
I once asked a recruiter what he thought of the prospect he came to watch.
“Remember when they were doing pushups?” he asked. “He led the team by counting, but he missed pushup 13 and pushup 18. He just didn’t go down, even though he commanded the team to do so. I am not sure about this guy, honestly. Out of twenty plays, we can’t have him taking off two because he is tired.”
You are always being watched, so sweep the shed.
Do you show a sense gratitude?
How you treat the people who take care of you matters. The coaches, the trainers, the ball boys—they are there to serve, but they are not your servants. True leaders serve those around them. When the trainer shows up, don’t bark, “I need tape!” Instead, ask for it. Say “please.” Say “thank you.” Clean up after yourself. When you are grateful, and treat others with the respect they deserve, people take notice. More importantly, it’s the right thing to do.
Your talent will get you noticed, but your character will get you recruited.
- Show gratitude.
- Be a positive influence.
- Do the little things.
- Be a great teammate.
- Make a great first impression.
- Sweep the shed.
And always remember, whether you are online, on the field or in the classroom, someone is watching.
As president Calvin Coolidge once said, “nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.”
Your reputation is who people think you are; your character is who you are when you think no one is paying attention. Someone is always paying attention, and every recruiter has countless stories of passing on a talented athlete who failed the character test. You must be the exception. You must be extra-ordinary. That’s how you get recruited.
I am in Iceland right now. The best place to watch any Olympic gymnastics is at the Bjarni Fel Sports bar in downtown Reykjavik. It is probably the only time that gymnastics is on the TV in bars with out the being REALLY creepy.
We have been there so much that the bar tender sees us coming, cleans off “our” table and turns the channel to gymnastics. Depending on what is on it is either Icelandic commentators (a husband and wife team whom I know. They are doing a great job) or the BBC.
This bar has a Big TV in the window, many people were lined up in the street watching gymnastics.
1. …could I do this?
2. I bet I could have been an Olympic gymnast if my parents had started me when I was 3.
3. Actually I bet my parents probably looked at me and said: “Yeah, let’s just make sure that one doesn’t drown in Jell-O, or whatever.”
4. WOW VAULTING IS TERRIFYING. Vaulting should award points for not landing in the audience.
5. Simone Biles just did something more incredible than I have ever achieved in my life and she looks about as satisfied with it as someone who just tied their shoes.
6.HOW ARE THESE SCORES SO LOW?! (Argument starts)
7. She lost points for hopping while landing?!
8. Look, taking a hop after landing with an incredible level of energy onto the floor is just how physics works. Are we really punishing these incredible, talented young women for physics?
9. I know they are pros and can handle it, I’m just really worried for them, OK?
10. Wow, every floor routine is basically what I think I look like while dancing alone in my room.
11. I feel like there’s actually four medals you can earn: bronze, silver, gold, and Making Márta Károlyi Smile.
12. HOW AM I SO NERVOUS. I’M NOWHERE NEAR AN OLYMPICS.
13. SORRY I CAN’T BREATHE RIGHT NOW, I’M WAITING FOR LITTLE ROCKET PEOPLE TO FINISH DOING A GOOD JOB AT STUFF.
14. Can I sign up for whatever class you all attended where you learned how to give yourselves nonbumpy topknots and ponytails?
15. I have carpal tunnel just watching this vault.
16. I bet everything these ladies own is covered in a thin layer of chalk.
17. I have never seen so many bedazzled remixes of different countries’ flags in my entire life.
Then they found out we were gymnastics coaches:
18. So…it’s not possible to get a perfect score in this sport, right? Like, ever?
19. Like if Simone Biles isn’t getting perfect scores, can we all drop the ruse that getting a perfect score in gymnastics is even possible?
– Of course they ask, “Can you do a handstand? Like- on a Bar?”
20. I CAN’T EVEN DO A HANDSTAND ON LAND.
21. The commentators are explaining why this vault is hard, but, like, don’t worry, guys, it already looks pretty flipping hard to me. (Replay of Samir Ait Said’s broken leg)
22. I’m just glad all these ladies are using their powers for good, because I could equally envision a world where you wouldn’t want to meet a gang of disgruntled gymnasts in a dark alley.
23. OK, but some of the things y’all are doing actually look like someone is messing around in Photoshop.
24. Commentator: “Her air awareness is a little off on those double pikes right now” Guy next to me at the bar: ::NODS AS IF HE IS AT ALL FOLLOWING WHAT HE IS SAYING- then orders another beer
25. Ah, Olympic Gymnastics: my once every four years reminder that there are 16-year-olds with better resumes than me.
“I love coaching moody teenagers!” said no one ever. Our adolescent athletes can be challenging, that is for sure. One minute they are perfectly normal, the next minute they are sullen, cranky or j…
“I love coaching moody teenagers!” said no one ever.
Our adolescent athletes can be challenging, that is for sure. One minute they are perfectly normal, the next minute they are sullen, cranky or just in tears.
Come to think of it, they are like giant two year olds…who drive…
That said, I actually like teenagers. Having raised four of my own and worked with hundreds of others, I have great empathy for the challenges of growing up.
Like most things in life, working with teens involves balance—the balance between respect and discipline. It is in balancing these where the bulk of the problems in coaching teens crop up.
Here are a few of the mistakes I’ve made (so you don’t have to) while trying to find my balance:
Not listening. Teens want to be heard. So even when you don’t agree with what they have to say, give teens the opportunity to explain their thought process or feelings. Remember: they probably don’t agree with you either, but you want them to listen to you, so extend the same courtesy.
Trying to have a rational conversation when they are emotional. Don’t do it. When teens are upset, their ability to use the rational part of their brain (which is already somewhat diminished because of their stage of development) is non-existent. Let the emotions calm down before rational conversational happens.
Letting your emotions get the best of you. Teens can make us pretty frustrated. Again, we are not at our best to have a productive conversation when we are agitated. Let your emotions calm down before you try.
Using threats or guilt instead of reasoning. It may be more expedient to manipulate the emotions of a teen, but since the long-term goal is to raise a moral adult, taking the time to explain the reasoning behind your rules is better for the child.
Attacking them personally, instead of their behavior. They are not lazy, though they may be acting lazy. They are not disrespectful, though their tone may be so. Labeling them, instead of their behavior, not only attacks them and places them on the defensive; it is not good for their developing psyche or your relationship with them.
Treating them too young or too old. Finding that sweet spot of “just right” is hard, but constantly seek to remember how old they are now. Your baby is growing up—let them have greater independence. But remember, while they look and act like an adult, they are not.
Not helping them find their own balance. Teens lives are increasingly complicated as their world expands. They need assistance in figuring out how to manage their newly complex world of school, sports, friends, work and community.
Doing too much for them. With power comes responsibility. If you fail to allow too much of one side without balancing it with the other, you are doing your teen a disservice. If your teen has the power to have access to use a car, he/she should have some responsibility to maintain that car. If he/she has the power to have a job, he/she should have the responsibility to deal with the employer directly.
Losing your sense of humor. Sometimes just laugh. Trust me, it helps!
Coaching a teen has many challenges, but when they go off to college and you see the role you had in raising a happy, responsible and thriving young person it is worth it!
On occasion I will hear about a job or two and will post them here. To get more information on the job, please send your resume and cover letter to tony AT gym momentum.com I will forward it to the club looking and have them get in touch with you. I have included as much information as I have on each position.
HEAD Xcel COACH and Program Director. Massachusetts.
TEAM Head Coach. New Hampshire. Primary coaching responsibilities level 7-10. Administrative responsibilities for all levels.
TEAM Head Coach. New Jersey. Primary coaching responsibilities Level 6-9/10.
TEAM COACH. North Carolina. This is a position that they can modify based on the qualifications of applicant.
TEAM HEAD COACH, Reykjavik Iceland. Stjarnan Gymnastic club in Iceland. looking for one or possibly two coahces for our highest level womens artistic gymnasts.
Upper level bars coach, Massachusetts. Must be a team player, responsible, hard working and positive. Spotting bars is necessary. Great pay & benefits
Xcel coach, Preschool program director/coach, Class coaches. Massachusetts gym that is restructuring.
Full-time coach for Developmental and Team programs.Viking Gymnastics, located in Niles, IL, Full-time employees are eligible for healthcare benefits, paid PTO, and other benefits.
e-mail me your resume, cover letter and goals and I will get you in touch with the club.
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department has opened an investigation into state-sponsored doping by Russian athletes, a person familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.
The probe is being overseen by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn and is examining Russian officials, athletes, coaches and anyone who benefited from the doping, the person said.
A spokeswoman for Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Robert Capers said the office cannot confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.
Prosecutors are believed to be pursuing conspiracy and fraud charges, according to the New York Times, which first reported the probe.
U.S. prosecutors have been permitted by courts to bring cases against foreigners living abroad if they can show a connection to the United States, such as the use of a U.S. bank.
A World Anti-Doping Agency report in November alleging widespread state-sponsored doping in Russia led to a ban on the country competing in international athletics competitions.
There is a difference between discipline and punishment. Discipline is about fixing and learning from your mistakes. It is corrective and instructional, focused on the child’s long-term wel…
There is a difference between discipline and punishment. Discipline is about fixing and learning from your mistakes. It is corrective and instructional, focused on the child’s long-term well-being. Its goal is to teach what behavior is and is not acceptable. Punishment is about paying for those mistakes. Its goal is to inhibit a behavior that the adult does not want to have happen.
The ultimate goal of discipline is self-regulation. It is to teach the athlete the skills needed to regulate themselves in your absence. It is not to control them or train them like an animal but rather to develop their character.
The best discipline happens before there is a problem. Avoiding conflict and redirecting behavior are two of the best ways to discipline. Setting up your lesson plans so the athletes are engaged and busy prevents many a discipline issue. Noticing when an athlete is veering off track and needs a gentle nudge to stay focused is a skill of a great coach.
Use logical consequences whenever possible. Logical consequences help kids learn to be accountable for their actions. For instance, a logical consequence for a gymnast unprepared for her turn is that she loses her turn. Or for a preschooler who pushes to the front of the line is to return to the end of it.
Don’t have too many rules. Instead focus on having principles, especially for older kids. Honesty. Respect. Responsibility. Kindness. Instill those four principles in your gym and your need for rules are almost zero.
Let the stakeholders (read: the athletes) be involved in creating any necessary rules. For instance, sitting down with your athletes and asking them what they think team rules and consequences should be gives them buy in to the social contract of the team. If, for instance, as a team you all agree that cheating on conditioning assignments results in starting the assignment over from the beginning then when this rule in enforced the athletes know what to expect because they had a voice in creating the rule.
Always look to compliment the positive instead of focusing on the negative. Instead of focusing on the kid doing it wrong, compliment (loudly) the kids who are doing it right. The others catch on fast.
Just because your coach did it this way, doesn’t mean you need to. Old school coaching techniques are often just that—old. Back in the day we didn’t wear seat belts or helmets, and yes, we survived but that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t have benefited from seat belts and helmets.
You aren’t always going to be liked (but it doesn’t mean you aren’t loved). Kids are going to be mad at you (and maybe even parents too) when you discipline your athletes. Do it anyway.
Don’t take an athlete’s misbehavior personally. It may feel personal but this isn’t about you. An athlete misbehaving is about their journey to learning how to behave. It’s nothing personal.
Yelling and nagging don’t work. They don’t. And in fact they do damage.
You are the adult. Always, always, always remember this. You are the adult in the coach-athlete relationship. As such you have more power and with that power comes a greater responsibility. Act accordingly.
The synergy between social media and college recruiting continues to grow. Social media is evolving into the primary tool of communication between prospects and college coaches. If used prudently, these high tech platforms can help streamline evaluations significantly to help college coaches recruit best.
On the flip side, it is important for prospects and families to realize that social media sites are “public platforms,” where information and opinions can directly define a prospect’s core character and values.
Social media and the accelerated pace of college recruiting are two strands of the evolution, and they are merging into a streamlined communication platform.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google are valuable places to share your personal story. That aside, the substance and tone of your postings will define you in the eyes of college coaches.
Think of social media as an opportunity to make your personal statement to both the public and to college coaches. Envision each post as an individual thread that helps weave your college recruiting experience into a seamless and comprehensive package.
Inspire your followers with positive messages and experiences, and avoid using social media to express irresponsible and potentially damaging opinions.
Share your college mission statement and goals.
Identify your glorious moments and success stories.
Do not be afraid to share your failed moments.
Demonstrate the importance of team and loyalty to your coaches.
Prospects rarely realize the potentially severe consequences of ill-advised material on social media. In today’s high tech society, everything you communicate is out there for people to see, and recruits need to be vigilant about vetting the information they share, especially the ways in which they respond to critics. I offer the following points as an informal reference guide:
Everything you put on the internet is easily shared and therefore “permanent.”
Understand the potential repercussions before sharing your opinions.
Carefully review any photos or videos you plan to post which even remotely degrade your character or personality.
Use a communication coach (mom, dad, club coach) to review your posts before they go live.
High school athletes are being observed and evaluated on several complex levels, and college coaches are using social platforms to get inside the minds, spirits and emotions of their prospects. This should serve as an important reference to boys and girls who regularly navigate social media sites.
Make an effort to keep your posts positive. Share messages that take the “high road” and that can serve as an inspiration for younger student-athletes. Avoid using social media as a sounding board to debate reckless viewpoints. Keep anything remotely negative to yourself.
Social media and constantly changing communication technology and strategies are huge parts of the new landscape of college recruiting, allowing prospects and coaches to connect instantaneously. That being the case, savvy student-athletes will take great care in organizing and managing their social media communications in ways that will impress college coaches—and they will do so in a positive and responsible manner.