COACHES – Everyone needs a mentor!

cheer_pom_pom_sticker__22023It’s about to begin. The onset of the 2014 – 2015 year of competitive speech and debate is now upon us.

So here’s a word to all parents and coaches – find a mentor.

Perhaps you will be responsible for coaching, instructing and mentoring others this year in forensics.  Be sure then to keep your own tanks full. Take time throughout the year to learn from someone who holds a similar role as you. Talk to that person; pray with that person. Learn while you are helping others learn. If you admire trainers from history who are no longer with us, read their books, memoires or diaries. Stay on the hunt for nuggets of inspiration that will keep you motivated. If not, your own tank will run dry and your resources, which could otherwise benefit others, will be depleted. Fill up and hold tight to your own mentors.

And then know this…

As coaches and instructors we will never have all the answers. There will be many times that we need to throw away our play books and metaphorically set down our “megaphones.”  Sometimes our students will not be able to hear us and we may even be uncertain about what to say. Relax. Refocus. Instead, pick up your pom-poms and be the cheerleader.  Great coaches have nothing to prove; they have everything to share.

Here’s how William Arthur Ward, an educator and motivator himself, once put it (this is a precious quotation that was written on the inside of a card I received this summer from one of my students):

“The mediocre teacher tells

The good teacher explains.

The superior teacher demonstrates.

The great teacher inspires.” 

“Inspire” comes from the Latin, inspirare, meaning ‘to breathe in.’  As we ‘breathe in’ and stay inspired ourselves, we will be able to do much more than tell, explain, and demonstrate. We will actually give ‘air’ to others while they tackle challenges in the coming year. Good coaches have chosen their own coaches so that maximum growth can occur while everyone learns together.

Let’s all choose well and breathe in!  I’m rooting for you (and shaking my pom-poms!)