Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I meant for this to be short and sweet, a parable as it were, and not Gone With the Wind. Oh well, too bad!


I think I have loved every moment that I have ever spent coaching players of any kind. I think I even loved the coaching moments that I actually hated living through, because coaching is a passion that possesses me, not the other way around.

I have never tried to be a coach and or to live up to anyone’s expectations for that word. I am a coach. It comes from the inside out.  It is the essence of my spirit. I raise my children as a coach because I have no clue how to be a father, not really.

Teams build themselves in my world. I am a leader, a teacher, and a facilitator, no more and no less.

WHISPER (sweet nothings) IN MY EAR AND I WILL FOLLOW YOU ANYWHERE (Philip H. Naumburg SR.)

I easily fall in love with whatever team and mostly every team I have ever coached anywhere, and in any sport. The exception to that might have been my first collection of misfits at CSU, a lacrosse team that I must confess I did not like so much. I almost turned my soft, Californiacated ass around to head back to a much different future on the left coast after my first fall ball at CSU. I still had a condo in Santa Barbara after all, but Roth and Walker made THE pledge that convinced me to stay in Colorado and to keep coming to the Fort. I will be forever grateful to those two for that moment at Ehrlich’s house way back in the nineties somewhere, and then for the way they backed up their words that next spring.


I think I have hugged every player that has ever played for me. Well, at least once…. I loved this 2012 CSU lacrosse team, from the top of Mount Regan to the tip of Trace’s toes, and I felt connected in more places than I had in the last few years. I touched most every player in some way this past year, and I once again became more personally because of that reality. It felt good. As a team the 2012 Rams reached their full potential and they will have rings to forever reflect that.


I have written coaching journals for well over 20 years. I started when I was fresh off a little personal psycho-therapy following a failed marriage, and then, as the eighties became the 90’s I was inspired to do more with my life by self-help guru Anthony Robbins. I began by first reading one of his books, then listening to the tapes, and finally I took all that energy in live, twice in fact, and over two full weekends. Tony has always wanted to help us to awaken the GIANT within. Well, he’s like 6’7” so that giant was already there, but any way one might look at him he is a very impressive human being. Standing more than a foot shorter, bald, and already almost 40 at the time, I knew I had a ways to go. When I began writing the Journal it was with a pen on lined paper that had hardback covers. My Journal intention was to empower myself as a coach, but I had no idea of all the places it would lead me.

In about 2000 I went on line with the Journal. That ‘liveness’ changed everything for me, ramping up the intensity level for my writing that I might have previously thought impossible. I do not think the word blog had come into internet play just yet, but even if it did exist, that is not what I do. If I were a blogger it wouldn’t take me 4 hours to sometimes finish a single sentence. For many years writing was pretty much the second most exciting part of my every coaching day, and there were many times when I did feel like I was, in fact, writing the things that I wanted to have happen before they actually happened. I may also in fact be too old now, but I don’t care. I still want to feel that magic again.


So, I have tried, and on occasion even succeeded in pre-writing the team season in my Journal like some kind of theatre script. The reality is that sometimes it looks like my original vision, and sometimes it does not.

I found over time that the most powerful thing that I can ever do as a coach is to empower the team that I am coaching. I do not spoon feed. I try to hand them a spoon and show them where the good stuff is, but it is up to them to be hungry and to be able to nourish themselves, both individually and collectively.


The greatest lesson I have learned as a coach over the years is that during the times when I let winning become the most important thing for me, I fail. We (our team) may or may not win, but I never win or become better when I have let that ugly (for me), emotional dynamic control the way I do things.

As a coach I try to never use the word, “I”, and only rarely do I ever talk about winning. God forbid I should EVER use the word championship when I talk to them as a group. I am sorry, but they (championships) are NOT “won every day” in practice. It has always been about aesthetics for me, not just with the team and how that looks, but the game itself. How else could one explain my recent U-19 coaching experience in Vail? We (Local Favorites) only had like 13 players and we were pretty much overmatched any way one might look at it in every game we played, but I refused to give the poor kids a break. I did not ask for one substitution horn in the three games that I could have used that as a tool to slow the game down. However, we went home with zero timeouts left in my pocket after all 6 games were played. I guess that’s just how “I” roll. After one game up there I looked at the thirteen year-old on the team, and I said to them all, “You guys are great! I treated you like men, and you PLAYED LIKE MEN!” It was A moment, and yes, I got teary-eyed.

MORE TO COME? We shall see

I can’t imagine me never standing out there somewhere uttering the two words, “F__K Me”, while watching my charges during an underachieving part of play. I am not done with getting right in people’s faces to CONNECT with them on a very personal level, even if they are only 4 feet tall. I build teams. It’s what I do. That (team building) is always first for me, as if instinct. I don’t envision that I have built my last one, not yet.


This is my final entry into Flip’s CSU Coach’s Journal. I love to coach and I love to write. Hopefully, and even at sixty, I will find new ways to do both. I have always thought of myself as a Renaissance man, so we will now see if that is truth.

FLIP     –   OUT!