Coaches make a difference

Del Hessel

Del Hessel

Jan. 28, 2010

Colorado State sputtered in football for many years. Sonny Lubick takes over the program and soon the football program is winning conference title, winning bowl games, and achieving national recognition. Jim Williams and Tiny Grant brought national recognition to the basketball program. The Ram's track and field program has produced Olympians and over a hundred All-Americans. Tom Hilbert (volleyball), James Bermel (men's golf), and Mary Yori (softball) have all won conference titles and put their respective programs at a nationally competitive level. It is not easy to win at the NCAA Division I level.

A winning program consists of a whole lot more than most people realize. Coaches must be good administrators and well organized as they manage a budget, understand and follow NCAA rules, plan a travel schedule, recruit student-athletes, fund-raise, plan training clinics and give lectures, plan daily practice sessions, attend weekly game and TV shows and, most importantly, establish a rapport with the team. Establishing a rapport with the team requires individual attention to each team member. No one works harder in the university setting than the coaches, and their results are posted across the country on the TV, internet, newspapers and magazines on a weekly basis. Coaches get hired and fired for their ability to win or by their lack of winning. It is very difficult to produce a winning program in the college ranks, because only the best coaches are hired at the Division I level and only the best athletes are recruited at this highly competitive level.

The question that must be analyzed is, `Why are some coaches so much more successful than others?'

At the Division I level, losing coaches can always find an excuse for their lack of success. The standard excuses are a lack of funding, a lack of facilities, a lack of administrative support, or a lack of alumni support. However, some programs win and become very successful despite the odds against them. This is not to say that equality in programs is not desirable, but some programs have everything needed to win a conference title and still fail to do so. It would be reasonable to suggest that every coach at Colorado State, that has won a title, did so without the largest budget or best facilities. Hopefully, the administration and alumni can improve on this until Colorado State is equal to every school in the conference.

Assuming that most Division I coaches are very knowledgeable about their sport, then other factors must be the undercurrent in the successful coach. It would appear that the coach's personality is a key factor in building and maintaining a winning program. Winning coaches have great leadership skills in their personality. This leadership skill has the ability to inspire and motivate the team. The successful coach has energy. This energy helps to inspire the team and helps the coach establish and maintain an excellent rapport with the team. The team believes in the coach and therefore tries harder to carry out the coaches' plan of attack. If the coach says, `This plan will work', the team believes in the plan. This leadership energy seems to inspire and motivate the team which seems to build a team rapport and pride inside the program. It is apparent that several of the Colorado State coaches have outstanding leadership skills. GO RAMS!

-Del G. Hessel, Varsity Athletes Club Board Member Hall of Fame 1996-

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