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May 2013

May 2013

Coach to Coach – Change of Season

by: Bryon Hamilton
Associate Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator, Shasta College
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Last year, I wrote an article describing the ever-expanding coaching carousel that all of us in this profession encounter. The article described some of the challenges of change within the coaching profession. I received a lot of emails regarding this article. It seems that all of us in coaching are presented with change or the opportunity for change on a continual basis. Some of this change is welcomed and, unfortunately, some of it is not. Deciding to change jobs is often one of the most difficult decisions a person can make. Until recently, I did not need to tackle this challenge in a long time. I’ve been teaching and coaching at the same high school for a decade.

Ten years ago, I made the decision to change coaching jobs and accepted the head varsity football coaching job at Foothill High School in Palo Cedro, California. I had never been a high school varsity coach, let alone a varsity head coach, but that was exactly the job I wanted. I was 34 years old and itching for a chance to build my own program. I had spent the previous six years as a college assistant and I loved it, but this was a new test and a new opportunity to build my own program.

I met that challenge with great excitement and a naïve sense of confidence. I was sure that I would be successful, and that success would come rather easily. I had good reasons to believe this. I enjoyed success as a college player, I had experienced success as a high school junior varsity head coach and I was an accomplished young college coordinator. I had no reason to believe that this new job would be any different. Success was expected and the possibility of failure never entered my mind.

Seven months later, I sat alone in a visitor’s locker room wondering how things had gone so wrong. We had won two games and lost eight. We had just lost our seventh game in a row with the last defeat coming at the hands of a team that our school had never lost to before. Humbled and embarrassed, I wondered what had I gotten myself into. In the months that followed, I spent countless hours examining every failure and shortcoming of that season. In looking back, I now know that failure and the many trials that I encountered were exactly what I needed to become a successful head coach. In the months that followed that inaugural season, I developed a vision and a plan for myself and my program. I have shared many of these principles with you over the years but I think that these basic ideas are worth revisiting.

My initial six coaching principles have served me well over the years. They have been my blueprint for success and they continue to be my coaching compass even today:

1. Surround yourself with passionate people who have talents that are different than yours.

2. Pursue education every day. Learn
something positive from every experience.

3. Live what you preach. Only ask your staff and players to do something or be something that you are willing to do or be on a daily basis.

4. Be flexible enough to allow your players
and staff to reach their full potential and exceed their personal expectations.

5. Never compromise your principles and
integrity for short term success. Sustained
success comes from a solid foundation built over time.

6. Make being comfortable uncomfortable. Continually push yourself out of your comfort zone to avoid the trap of becoming comfortably sedentary.

Ten years later I can say that my tenure as a high school head coach was incredibly fulfilling and successful in ways that I never thought were possible. My journey was full of ups and downs, wins and losses, fun and frustration but it was mostly filled with wonderful people who made the experience a blessing for me and my family.

Today, change has once again come to the Hamilton household and to my football career. Several weeks ago I resigned from my job as the head varsity football coach at Foothill High School and accepted the associate head football coach and offensive coordinator position at Shasta Community College in Redding, California. The Shasta College football program has experienced some hard times as of late. This has prompted several people to ask why I would leave a job of comfort and successful familiarity for a job that will require a revamping of both philosophy and structure. My answer – see principle #6.

Change simply for instant gratification can be disastrous but change for the right reason is good and is often required for growth. Andre Gide once said, “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” I am very excited about my new coaching job. Addressing the numerous challenges associated with changing the culture of a football program has been a much needed shot of adrenaline to my professional life. I have found that taking on a new job is a lot like buying an old house with the seller seeing only the problems and the buyer seeing only the potential. I am the new buyer and my hope and desire is that I keep that perspective.

In the three weeks that I have been on the job, the amount of progress has been incredible. We have hired new coaches who can be defined by principle #1. We have revamped our approach to almost every aspect of the program and have established new goals and expectations. This excitement and rededication to excellence has been reflected in our recruiting as well. The plan that I developed ten years ago is once again being

Maybe you are in the midst of a change. Or maybe you are in the process of rebuilding a program. Whatever your situation is, know that there are many coaches throughout the country that are in your same situation or have successfully gone through something similar. If you find yourself desiring change, also know that there are opportunities out there for coaches who are willing to put in the work and are willing to accept challenges with a great attitude.

I heard a very successful collegiate head coach once say that the key to being a great coach is to take the right job. I agree. But another key is to have a plan, a vision, a set of principles that you can rely on no matter what job you take or where this profession takes you. My advice is to never be afraid of a challenge. Embrace the difficult jobs with the enthusiasm of a home buyer. See the potential, embrace the task and never allow fear of change to keep you from reaching your goals.
The best thing you can do is the right thing;
the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing; the worst thing you can do is nothing.
- Theodore Roosevelt.  s



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