#InspiredCoaching: Father’s Day wisdom from successful coaches

Penn State Nittany Lions head football coach James Franklin congratulates quarterback Trace McSorley after scoring a touchdown during the first quarter against the Appalachian State Mountaineers at Beaver Stadium.
Sep 1, 2018; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin congratulates quarterback Trace McSorley (9) after scoring a touchdown during the first quarter against the Appalachian State Mountaineers at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

There is a lot of crossover between the role of a coach and the role of a father.

Many coaches, whether it’s in the business world or on the sports field, use advice they got from their father to lead their teams. While others recall the coaches of their own youth filling that fatherly role for them when it may have been missing at home.

In honor of Father’s Day and as part of Amway’s commitment to #inspiredcoaching, we are tapping into the paternal wisdom and advice from some of college football’s top coaches and others in the industry thanks to the Amway Coaches’ Poll partnership between Amway, USA TODAY and the American Football Coaches Association.

Father figure

Penn State Head Football Coach James Franklin said when he was young, he viewed his coaches as big brothers and father figures.

“I grew up in a single-parent home for the most part, and my coaches kind of filled that role for me,” he said. Now, as he leads his own team, he tries to fill that role for his players.

“I have two daughters and 125 sons and that’s how we treat them,” he said. “I want my daughters to feel loved. I want them to feel appreciated. I want them to feel challenged. I want my players to feel loved. I want my players to feel appreciated. I want them to feel challenged.

“So I think it’s much more similar than it is different. … It’s not my job to send players to the NFL, it’s my job to make sure my guys leave here as educated men and prepared for life.”

Callie Brownson, one of the football coaches for Dartmouth College, gestures while answering a question at a recent panel discussion at Amway World Headquarters.

Callie Brownson, offensive quality control coach at Dartmouth College.

Setting an example

Callie Brownson, the offensive quality control coach at Dartmouth College and the first full-time female coach in NCAA Division I history, credits her father with her success as a coach on the field.

“I grew up with a single father who raised my brother and me by himself while also starting his own business from our basement,” she said. “I saw what it takes to be ambitious. I saw what it takes to understand built-in adversity and overcome it. I saw what it takes to sacrifice and the lessons that he taught me.

“On top of that, he was the one who really showed me that limits are only things that we impose on ourselves.”

University of Oregon Head Football Coach Mario Cristobal holds a football while standing in an empty stadium. He provided Amway Connections with Inspired Coaching advice.

Mario Cristobal, head football coach at the University of Oregon.

‘Never get outworked’

Mario Cristobal, head football coach at the University of Oregon, says he would not be where he is today without all the coaches and mentors he had growing up, including his father.

His dad was a Cuban immigrant trying to build a life for his young family. He worked two jobs while also going to night school to learn English. Mario recalls his father’s mantra: Never get outworked.

The dedication he saw in his father and his own coaches while growing up is what inspires him when he looks at his own team, building relationships, working alongside them and preparing them for life after college.

“You have to be impactful,” he said. “We tell our coaches all the time: This is their last pit stop—their last pit stop before they go on with life.”

USA TODAY sports columnist Nancy Armour answers a question at the Grass Ceilings Inspired Coaching Summit held at Amway World Headquarters.

Nancy Armour, USA Today sports columnist.

No regrets

That fatherly advice works off the field, too. USA Today sports columnist Nancy Armour recalls a key lesson she learned from her father on a ski slope in Colorado when she was in seventh grade.

She had planned to tackle a giant black diamond run before their weeklong vacation was over and they went back to the smaller hills in Wisconsin. But when it was time to make the last run, she told her father she didn’t think she wanted to it.

“He said let me tell you a story,” Nancy recalled. “He’d grown up in Minnesota and he ski jumped.”

Her father said one day he climbed to the top of a jump, looked down, and he took off his skis and climbed back down.

“’To this day,’ he said, ‘I regret that,’’ she said. “So he said, ‘We can go down a different run, but if you go down this one now, you’ll never have to wonder.’

“I’ve used that advice to inform the rest of my life. I did go down that run. I spent most of it on my backside, but I went down the run, and I never have to wonder what would have happened if I didn’t.”

‘You can do it!’

Amway Co-founder Rich DeVos often told of the advice his father gave him as a child, including it in his 2014 book, “Simply Rich: Life Lessons from the Cofounder of Amway.”

Rich’s father encouraged him to go into business for himself and convinced him that being a business owner was not an impossible dream.

“He always taught me to believe in the unlimited potential of individual drive and effort,” Rich said. “Anytime I’d say, ‘I can’t,’ he’d stop me and say, ‘There’s no such word as can’t.’

“He impressed on me that ‘I can’t’ is a self-defeating statement. ‘I can’ is a statement of confidence and power. My father always reminded me, ‘You can do it!’ Those words stuck with me and guided me for the rest of my life.”


Want to hear more from successful coaches, leaders and mentors? Read additional #inspiredcoaching blogs at AmwayConnections.com.

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