Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch – Part 7 – Case Study – How A State Championship School Built A Trust-Based Program

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Coach Wooden often shared that ‘Love is the most powerful four-letter word.’ When building a championship culture, love and trust have to start at the top. Do your players trust that you have their best interests in mind? The answer to that probably comes down to whether you truly do have their best interest in mind. When it comes to loving your players and having them trust you – it has to be real. Do some introspection for your program – here are a few questions you can ask yourself:

  • Do you truly care more about the kids or about winning?
  • Does each kid feel like they are special? This takes a lot of effort, but each kid should feel they are special and have a special role that contributes to the success of the program.
  • Are you distracted by cell phones or thinking about other things while you are coaching at practices or games?
Case Study – One of the most impressive programs I have observed live out this philosophy of loving their players is Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville Tennessee. Drew Maddux and Ingle Martin lead their basketball and football programs, respectively. They specifically have built a program based on Joe Ehrmann’s philosophies. It didn’t happen overnight, they spent two years having weekly studies of Joe’s books with their coaching staffs. They brought in outside mentors/advisors, Randy and Scott Hearon from the Nashville Coaching Coalition, to help guide them through the process and keep them accountable. You could write a book on all of the things they are doing right – but here are 3 that really jumped out at me:
  • ‘To be a man, you have to see a man’ – Coach Martin focuses on developing himself and his coaching staff to be the type of men that the boys should emulate
  • Manhood Mondays – every Monday during the season they have different coaches and players create a shield with 4 parts to share with the team:
    • Tell a childhood story that defined them
    • Tell a recent story that defines them
    • How does the public view them
    • Who their private self is
  • Build a program not a team – If you have Varsity, JV, freshmen – various levels – treat them all as part of one program. Talk to each kid every practice and call them by name. Coach Maddux has a state championship program- but they don’t do cuts. If a kid wants to be in the program, then he is.
CPA is a program that is all-in on loving kids and developing future leaders. It starts at the top and it requires a deep desire for the kids to succeed, not for the coach’s winning record to look good (however the culture they have produced has led to remarkable achievements on the field and court, consistently competing for and winning state championships over the past 5+ years.)
So commit to truly loving the kids you coach. Recently I interviewed Coach Randy Jackson, a successful high school football coach in Texas, and he shared with me:
 ‘A child’s chances of being successful are vastly improved if they know 5 people truly believe in them. As their coach, are you going to be 1 of the 5?’

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