(With more than 55 years as an athlete, coach, official, parent and spectator, I’ve gained some insights and perspectives regarding athletics. In this weekly column, I share what I’ve learned about sports from these multiple points of view.)
“Teamwork” (Part II)
First, congratulations to the Siuslaw boys and girls cross country teams for finishing in the top 10 at the 4A state cross country meet last week. It is a testament to all their work not just during the season but throughout the year.
Coaches have a variety of ways to facilitate teamwork. Winning happens with mutual respect and cooperation between players and coaches.
It is earned with ethical behavior on and off the field or court. A coach supports his players and works as long and hard as they do. Some coaches use team bonding experiences away from their sport. It may be as simple as attending a motivational movie, having a guest speaker or a team breakfast.
In 1979, I was an assistant coach for the Vikings. As a single male, my laundry did not always get sorted or folded. I constantly wore mismatched socks. During one practice, several players were joking about my mismatched socks. I let these players know that tomorrow I would add wind sprints for every matched pair of socks on the team.
In the locker room the next day before practice, over 30 players were exchanging at least one sock with a teammate. They came together as a team to run no sprints that night. It was too dark for me to see anyway. (Haha!)
In 1999, the Vikings narrowly missed a Far West League title. To lift team spirits for a run at a state title, the players decided to dye their hair blond. I went with my son to a friend’s house to dye his hair. I showed my spirit by dying my hair as well.
It didn’t lead to a state title, but the Vikings won two play-off games before losing 13-7 to Scappoose — led by future NFL quarterback Derek Anderson.
Longtime, now-retired Siuslaw football coach Tim Dodson implemented the “afterglow.” It was a team circle often joined by parents and supporters of Siuslaw football after the game, home or away. It was an opportunity for players and coaches to recognize efforts and contributions made in the game — regardless of the final score.
Sometimes the “afterglow” became the after dark on a visitors’ field.
An unspoken team unifier prevailed in the Siuslaw Viking football program when I arrived in 1977; the players took great pride in being on the practice field longer than any other team.
In addition, they had no practices in anything but full gear, even if their contribution to the team was clapping on the sidelines during the game.
Next week, I will conclude this series with some negative team practices used for welcoming new players into the fold; a practice called hazing.
I saw none here but I was hazed as a freshman in high school.
There are also times when a coach makes mistakes.