family

Love, Mrs. Coach (Part 2)

FIRST OF ALL, LET ME BRAG ON MY GUYS FOR A MINUTE.

They’re gentlemen. They’re kind. They’re passionate. They’re coachable. They’re crazy and goofy and immature and hilarious. They’re good guys. Our girls (ages 2 and 3) are beyond smitten. We are always greeted with hugs and high-fives. The players sit on our couch and read books to our children. They paint fingernails of toddlers and actually listen when my 2 year old tries to tell them something in her own language. The guys will chase them and flip them and carry them on their shoulders as long as my kids keep asking. We love our guys.

Our guys’ girlfriends are equally as awesome. They’re supportive and encouraging and patient with the crazy basketball schedule we all endure. I’ve loved having “watch parties” (aka ice cream parties) when our guys play on the road. We are able to eat ice cream, bond, girl-talk (did I mention the ice cream?) and share common ground because of these guys. I personally prefer home games, because I love to watch the guys play in person and not say bye to my husband, but having these girls over for away games has made road games so much more enjoyable! Girlfriends, you play such a vital role and I am so thankful for each of you!

And don’t even get me started on our players' parents/families. Kind words, notes of encouragement, random gift cards, thoughtful trinkets/toys/candy for our girls, sweet texts, and the list goes on. We have the best parents/families. Hands down.

Despite having great players, awesome girlfriends and amazing families, being a coach’s family isn’t at all glamorous. But SURPRISE, we aren’t in it for the glamour!

WHY ARE WE IN IT?  FOR THE PLAYERS.

Chances are, they probably won’t be “players” anymore after their 4 years of college ball. Do you know what they’ll be after that? Husbands, fathers, leaders, teachers, coaches, and influencers wherever they go. Don’t get me wrong. We want to win games. We really want to win games. But our ultimate goal is for our guys to win at life. To show Jesus to their family and others all around them every day. To win the ultimate prize of “Well done, my good and faithful servant."  To become coaches who have the same influence and can teach the next generation, by example, what it looks like to live by faith. To somehow balance a crazy schedule and still remember what is important in this life. People.

And somehow, the not-so-glamorous late nights, long hours, and unseen challenges are totally and completely worth it.

Julie Wingreen

Love, Mrs. Coach (Part 1)

Win The Campus Visit

It's a beautiful day outside and you have one of your top recruits coming to visit campus today.  You've had great talks with him and his family over the last few months and things are going great.  You were at every single tournament he played in last summer and took time out of your busy schedule during the season to make it to some of his high school games as well.  You've built a relationship with the family and really enjoy talking to them.  The recruit has even told you that your school is one of his top 3 and he's going to be making a decision after the visits.  But as he steps on campus, the first thing he notices is an overflowing trash can just outside of your office building...

Whether it's a full trash can or something else, it doesn't take much to negatively influence a recruit's visit.  Your job as the coach and coordinator for this particular visit is to ensure this never happens.  The goal of the campus visit is to win the recruit and his family and give them the confidence that your school is where they want to be.  Here are a few important aspects of the campus visit that could be the difference between signing your top priority and losing him.

FIRST IMPRESSION

There are really two parts to the first impression: The visual impression & the personal impression.  Sometimes the first one is out of your control, but you should make every effort to make this positive.  The second part is fully in your control and you better make it work. 

The visual impression: As a recruit and his family drive onto campus, they naturally begin to form an opinion of the school.  Is the grass cut?  Is the landscaping nice?  Are the buildings kept up?  These are just a few of the things they look at, but they are important.  I'm lucky enough to be at a school that does a fantastic job with their grounds.  You will never drive onto our campus and feel like it's a mess.  The landscaping is beautiful, the fountains are always flowing, and the trash cans are always empty.  Because of the grounds crew at Bob Jones University, my job as a coach has already been made easier.

The personal impression: This is where coaches typically win or lose the visit.  We want to win, so here is how we do it.  Psychologists have performed studies that say you have seven seconds to make a first impression.  When I go to meet a recruit in our Welcome Center or by their car, I always want to be the first person that they interact with.  Why? Because it's my responsibility as a coach to make them feel welcomed and I don't want to risk someone else impacting that.  Remember, I only have seven seconds to make this "first impression" the best that they have ever seen!  Do I have a positive attitude?  Is my posture conveying confidence?  Do I have a bright smile and welcoming eye contact?  Is my handshake firm?  Am I genuinely interested in them?  I know it sounds silly, but when we have a recruit coming on campus the "first impression" is where I spend most of my time preparing.  By making a great first impression we have now set the tone for a positive visit.

ARE YOU READY FOR US?

When recruits and their families come on a visit, it is oftentimes their first experience on your campus.  They have a sense of insecurity and may have a lot of questions.  You've already earned their trust and respect by making a great first impression, but now you need to build their confidence in you and your university.  One way we can do this is to have many of their questions answered before they are even asked.    

As the recruiting coordinator, I maintain constant communication with all of our departments on campus.  When we are planning a visit, I will coordinate with our Welcome Center to prepare every aspect of that visit.  As I introduce the family to our Welcome Center personnel, they are handed a packet that contains an itinerary, meal passes, and information about the university and their intended area of study.  Inside they will find meetings with admissions counselors, class schedules, tours, etc.  We always appeal to the recruits needs and make sure we accomplish everything their family wants to accomplish during their visit.  Being prepared answers several questions right away that the family may have been wanting to ask.  Again, by doing this we are building confidence in the recruit and his family that we will be ready to take care of them.  

BE A PART OF OUR FAMILY

Once we get the prerequisites of the visit completed, we want to make our recruit feel like he is a part of our family.  Every team says that they are a family, but very few actually live it out.  In everything we do, we want to be sincere and genuine.

One way that we begin to integrate them into our family is by making introductions to everyone we possibly can.  Our support staff, coaches from other sports, administration, students, etc.  No one is too small or too big to talk to our recruit and their family.  By allowing them to build relationships with people outside of basketball, they will begin to feel like a part of something bigger than themselves.  

We also involve our current players a lot in the process.  Whether its a workout, a meal or a campus tour, we want as much interaction between the recruit and our players.  We find this to be very beneficial because our players can give a first hand perspective of what it is truly like to be a part of our family.  They tell it how it is and give an honest answer to the questions being asked.  

NO PRESSURE

It's always fantastic when a recruit wants to sign on the spot after his visit.  However, we never pressure a recruit to sign before he leaves.  Our staff always sits down with the recruit and his family prior to their departure and have a very transparent conversation.  We want them to be honest with us and let us know what we can do to make us the best fit for their son.  We have the utmost confidence that we did everything we could to make this a special visit for them, so we want to let the process play out.  There is no doubt in our minds that if a recruit is meant to be here, he will be here.  

Campus visits will be different for everyone, but one thing will always be the same.  Recruits and their families want to have confidence not only in your program and your staff, but in the university as a whole.  Can you give them that confidence?  If so, you are going to have a successful future for you and your program!


Photo credit: Derek Eckenroth; Bob Jones University

Bootcamp Week

It’s a week that requires our players to grow as leaders and develop character. A championship mentality needs to be established by the end of this week.
— Andrew Wingreen (@CoachWingreen)

We officially begin every season with a week of bootcamp.  This is a week of grueling workouts that not only challenge our players physically, but more-so it challenges them mentally.  We want to finish the duration with a better focus and more awareness in the face of fatigue and adversity.  Most guys come into this week ready to show the coaches and their teammates how prepared they are physically, but they soon realize that they can't do it alone.

EVERYONE QUICKLY REALIZES THAT THEY MUST LEAN ON THEIR TEAMMATES FOR ENDURANCE AND ENCOURAGEMENT TO OVERCOME EVERY CHALLENGE.

By the end of this week something amazing happens.  Leaders step up and their teammates follow.  They slowly begin to realize that the pain their bodies feel is actually the fuel that is bringing them closer together as a group.  They can no longer rely on themselves and they must continue to strengthen their relationships with their teammates.  The more they struggle, the more they cry, and the more they overcome - the more they become a family.  

As freshman, they simply try to survive. As seniors, they make sure everyone else survives.
— Tony Miller (@tonywmiller)

During the season when challenges arise and adversity strikes, the week of bootcamp will be in the forefront of our minds.  We will remember the lessons we learned and the importance of relying on each other for strength.  There will come a time when someone wants to throw in the towel, but his teammate won't let him.  We've been through too much together to give up.  Teams come and go, but families are forever.

#CHAMPIONSTODAY

Follow our men's basketball program on Instagram and Twitter @BJUBruinsMBB.

More Than A Team

EVERY COACH HAS A COMMON DESIRE THAT HIS TEAM WILL BE MORE THAN JUST A TEAM. 

WE WANT TO BE A FAMILY.

That all sounds good on paper and when we talk about it, but it’s not so easy to actually do.  Families have unique qualities that bond them together and there is an immeasurable amount of trust among them.  Each person needs to be willing to sacrifice their own comfort for the overall health of the team.

1. SPEND QUALITY TIME WITH EACH OTHER

This may seem like an easy one.  Our teams spend every day together at practice, workouts, and on the bus to games.  But there is a big difference between “being with each other” and “investing in each other.”  There needs to come a time when each person realizes their role in the investment.  We can’t be halfhearted if we want to fulfill our role in the family.  We need to be all in.  Our time with each other can’t be out of requirement, but instead it needs to be because we truly want to be there for our teammate.  If we want to see our teams become family then we need to cherish our inner circle and put them before ourselves.  

2. ENGAGE IN OPEN COMMUNICATION

Every family talks about hard things.  Families aren’t afraid to confront one another, but they do it in a way that is respectful and meaningful.  There is no family that is perfect and we need to understand that we are always under construction.  Our growth from a team to a family is an ongoing project and open communication with each other will allow this growth to occur.  Family member’s mistakes need to be held accountable and everyone involved needs to be willing to take criticism.  When we confront each other out of love and necessity, we are showing humility and care for our family.  Everyone needs to be conscious of when and where communication takes place as well.  Families need to keep communication within the circles of the group and can't spread personal information to those not associated with the team.  Open communication can only occur when there is an established trust with everyone.

3. NURTURE EACH OTHER

Encouragement is essential to any family.  The more we pick each other up the more likely we are to have a positive impact on everyone.  Not only does encouragement boost our morale, but it also gives everyone a sense of security knowing that we can trust one another.  Not everyone on your team will have the same interests, background, or dreams.  In many cases these differences will cause friction, but in families those differences are nurtured and accepted.  We always have each other’s back.  When one or two guys decide they want to take it easy on a certain task, the rest of the family needs to encourage a better mindset and work ethic from them.  When each person does their job, the overall success of the team will increase.  

4. PARTICIPATE IN MEANINGFUL TRADITIONS

What family doesn’t have traditions?  It’s a common theme that is timeless for families and honored without question.  Traditions are celebrated by those who are part of the family and it really doesn’t matter what other people think.  We can’t be afraid to be silly and have fun with this because it’s what makes families special.  Find things that you can celebrate together and is common only to the members of your family.

Teams will play together and win some games, but they never become special without being a family.

Families laugh and families cry, but they are never broken and will always be there for each other.  If we want our program to be a family then we need to be willing to do things that make families great.  Trust each other, love each other, and make other's a priority in your locker room.  It’s not always convenient and it’s not always natural, but it’s always worth it.