The 1971 New Jersey State Coaches Clinic is etched in my memory. One reason is because it was the first one I’d ever attended. Another was for two of the speakers.
One day I was telling a friend that the only two things I remembered from the History of Education class I took as a sophomore in college was 1) never make a statement you can’t back up, e.g. “If you do that again, I’ll have you thrown out of this class” and 2) when you’re finished using an overhead projector, turn it off so the students aren’t distracted by the light on the blank wall. Then we tried thinking of what we recalled from other classes. For many of them we came up empty. Nada. Granted, it was a long time ago but - not to be able to come up with even one item we were taught - that’s just sad.
It was at that point in our conversation I brought up the ‘71 NJ State Coaches Clinic. It was for both football and basketball coaches and since I was coaching both sports at my high school, I split my time, taking into account the topic and the speaker. I told my buddy there were two clinicians I had to hear. One was a football assistant from the Naval Academy whose topic was “Scouting” because one of my jobs as assistant was to scout future opponents. I can still remember a good deal of that talk even though I haven’t coached football in 43 years Example: when scouting a game in person and you’re trying to figure out the play a team is running, watch the triangle made up of the two guards and the fullback. If the guards block ahead, it’s a running play between the tackles; if they drop back, it’s a pass play or a draw; if one or both guards and the fullback go right, the play’s going that way and vice versa if they go left. There are additional examples but I don’t want to bore you (more than I already have). Obviously, the game has progressed since then, e.g. the fullback position has gone the way of the buffalo, but to be able to recall in such detail the contents of a speech over 40 years ago, that would be rendered meaningless a year later (when I embarked on a career as a basketball coach), speaks volumes of the impact that lecture had on me.
The other coach I looked forward to hearing was my college roommate’s high school coach. At that time, he was an assistant coach at Duke. His name was Hubie Brown. If you’ve ever heard Hubie, there’s no need to explain why his speech stayed with me.
At the Coaching U event I attended last Tuesday and Wednesday, the coaches on the program were the two hosts, Brendan Suhr and Kevin Eastman, George Raveling, Lawrence Frank, Shaka Smart, Billy Donovan and Gregg Marshall. Undoubtedly, the coaches in attendance will remember a lot more from that clinic than I did from the one in New Jersey. Yet everything that they do will be for the same reasons.
As William Arthur Ward said:
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.“