Coach: 25 Writers reflect on people who made a difference in their lives Hardcover – Oct 27 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
These often entertaining reminiscences about the impact that athletic coaches can have on their players are a mixed bag. The very disparate nature of the essays sometimes creates a loss of overall focus, but the wide range of sports covered—baseball, football, basketball, track, tennis, golf and fencing—is a plus. Only four of the 25 pieces are written by women, but they offer interesting contrasts. Novelist Francine Prose describes the 1950s gym teacher from hell, while Christine Brennan fondly remembers her beloved 1970s high school coach who, before Title IX, battled against the lack of funds and equipment for girl's teams. Journalists George Vecsey and Frank Deford present historical recollections of, respectively, baseball's legendary Casey Stengel and Al McGuire, the high-profile basketball coach at Marquette University, but most of the other pieces touch on personal coaching experiences. Of particular interest is CNN correspondent Tour's evocation of a 1970s tennis club in Dorchester, Mass., started by Mister Smith, who dreamed of turning African-American ghetto kids into professional tennis players. While moving, Jane Leavy's description of being a dying coach for a friend with AIDS feels out of place in a collection that otherwise deals with sports. (Oct. 27)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Phil Jackson will earn 10 million dollars for coaching the Los Angeles Lakers this season. Division I college football coaches regularly earn in excess of 1 million per year. They may all be fine coaches, but the coaching that affects millions of lives every year takes place in smaller, virtually invisible venues: in youth leagues and in junior-high and high schools. This collection of essays--many originally published here--explores the work of 25 coaches of various kinds and degrees of renown. Most are written about coaches rather than by them (Frank Deford on Al McGuire, David Maraniss on Vince Lombardi), but perhaps the most powerful selection describes what happened when Jane Leavey, author of Sandy Koufax (2002), agreed to serve as the "dying" coach for an AIDS-stricken friend. A moving and often humorous collection that may attract a significant amount of "off-the-book-page" attention. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
about Creativity Coaching, one of the Life Coaching
specialties I use in my professional life.
Then I saw it was about ATHLETIC coaches - and
writer's relationships with SPORTS coaches.
I rolled my eyes at myself at making such an
I decided I would read some of the selections
I turned first to John Irving - a writer whose
work I especially enjoy. His quote, "When you
love something, you have the capacity to bore
eveyone about why - it doesn't matter why." and
decided that quote may be the very reason this
book called out to me.
The other selection I found incredibly compelling
was from writer Lauren Slater. I was in tears
as I sat in Barnes and Noble reading this
lush, evocative entry. She allowed us to witness
her trip to Summer Camp and the deep sadness and
horrible inner battle she had as she separated
herself from her mother, as well as the movement
from it thanks to Coach Kim.
This would be inspiring to any kind of teacher
and any kind of writer, though those who actually
ARE athletic coaches may find it the most
helpful of all.
Coach is not the type of book I'd buy for myself, but it was pretty good! I really enjoyed it. There are 25 reminiscences by a variety of people - mostly professional writers and authors - about coaches who deeply influenced them. Of course some of the essays were pretty average - to be expected when there are 25 of them - but some of them were really quite brilliant.
My favorite was by Jane Leavy (never heard of her before reading this book) entitled "Coaching Bob" and it's different from the rest of the essays. In it she describes coaching Bob - a man suffering from AIDS - on how to live his life and face his impending death.
The last three essays were by well-knwn sports writers and commentators Bob Wolff, Ira Berkow, and Bud Collins. All very good.
The fellow who gave me the book, Steve Valerio, is your typical great guy rugby player. When I started coaching North Jersey, Steve, who was called "Flash" because of his (lack of) speed, was playing wing, the speed position on the rugby field. After a while, having discerned his (lack of) speed, we moved him to wing forward, where he never let us down.
“Coach” is filled with stories about ways in which a coach changes the direction of someone’s life and coaxed that person to take a harder, more rewarding path. There are also a few recollections of coaches who had a negative effect on an individual’s life. These narratives include stories by well-known writers such as George Vecsey ( “The Old Man”); E.M. Swift (“Why Be Last?”); Pat Conroy (“My Losing Season”); Buzz Bissinger “When I Was Young”); John McPhee (VBK); Francine Prose (“Physical Education”); John Irving (“Underdog”); David Mariniss (“The Coach Who Wasn’t There”); Frank Deford (“The Depression Baby”); Bud Collins (“Fit to Be Tied”); and George Plimpton (Golf Lessons).
These stories include the famous - Casey Stengel, Vince Lombardi, Al McGuire - and the not so famous. The common thread is that all knew the most important aspects of human interaction – getting people to think, believe, see, and do what they might not have done without him or her.
Some of the gems from this book include…
Something lost today with our youth is the importance of competition. Trophies are awarded for just about everything, including just showing up. There should be winners and losers, and even tears.
We need to learn early on how to win and lose. In sports, we learn how to practice, how to hustle, how to be accountable for our actions…and how to laugh at our mistakes.
Coaches are in the business of molding and should be trying to instill something for life.
Repetition and discipline is the key to success.
Enthusiasm creates momentum - ”Always run off the field.”
There is a difference between a champ and a chump.
Sports certify the deepest resources of skill, determination, and heart
Sports teaches us just to be… not to underachieve or overreach. (Either way you cheat the game, your name, and your unfolding life narrative. “You turn out to be just as you played.”)
A game allows you to be bigger than you are. A game belongs to nobody. It’s in your hands. It’s waiting for you to claim it.
A game trumps time.
What are our families for if not to teach us how to get under one another’s skin? These lessons teach us some surprising things about men and women, our potentials and our limitations.
“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing” was not coined by Lombardi. It came from the movie “Trouble Along The Way.”
Lombardi taught the idea of freedom through discipline. “The only way to be free is to discipline yourself to master the world around you.” What is true for football also is true for other professions.
A lot of coaching is what you choose not to do, not to see.
Every obnoxious fan has a wife at home who dominates him.
McGuire: “coaches are so scared.” Coaching is dealing with problems and differences. Good coaching addresses the real underlying issues that contribute to developing potential, creating a team culture, and true success. Some coaches try to avoid this.
Coaching is a mistress.
McGuire was jealous of other coaches who were dedicated. He wanted to keep his life.
None of us escape thinking about the coaches who made a difference in life. They embodied the qualities that inspired us to become bigger and better in life.