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Kuemmel's Corner: Park coaching staff taking page from author Joe Ehrmann

Our coaching staff is reading the book “InSideOut Coaching: How Sports Can Transform Lives” by author Joe Ehrmann. Ehrmann is a former NFL defense lineman and is co-founder of Coach for America.

Each month we get together to talk about the book and what transformational coaching looks like at Park High School. The focus of the book is four questions that every coach must ask themselves: Why do I coach? Why do I coach the way I do? What does it feel like to be coached by me? How do I define success?

Answering the first question gives every coach their purpose for coaching. Coaches may have goals of winning the conference, winning their section, or maybe sending an individual or team to state. But those goals are not the same as a purpose. If we are not intentional about our purpose, then our highest goal will become our purpose. While winning is certainly very important at the high school level, our coaching purpose must be about more than the outcome on the scoreboard. I am asking our head coaches to share their purpose for coaching with me, and if they are comfortable, with their players and parents.

I attended a pre-season parents meeting for a winter sport last week, and the coach did not go over any rules or regulations for the season (all of which could be found online). Instead, the coach shared his answer to all four questions with everyone involved in the program.

The Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) has also turned their focus to Ehrmann’s transformational coaching. The League offered a “Why We Play” conference for all coaches last summer centered on the four questions from the book. This instruction will also become part of the League’s coaches’ education process for new head coaches.

Will you notice anything different with Park’s coaches? Probably not, since most of our coaches already had this type of coaching philosophy before reading the book. But, one thing the book has reminded us is the profound influence that coaches can have in the lives of high school students.

I believe we cannot truly define how successful a coach is until five, 10, or maybe 20 years after their students have graduated high school. There are many examples of non-transformational, or transactional, coaches in our society today (the most recent being the men’s basketball coach at Rutgers).

Our coaches will continue to work hard to build relationships with their student-athletes, and hopefully transform their lives through sports.

-Phil Kuemmel, Park High School Activities Director