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Lou Holtz as an Effective Leader

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Through the first part of this paper, I hope to portray and articulate several theories and lessons that I learned from reading the Coach Holtz book. I believe the number one lesson that was driven home throughout the semester and even came up in the Lou Holtz readings was how to become an effective leader. This topic is very important to anyone that is put in a position of superiority because you must get the people that you are in charge of to complete their tasks. Personally, I feel this is one of the cornerstones of being an effective college coach and mentor to leaders of tomorrow. There are several different styles of leadership and no one style is better than another but you must find the leadership style that best suits you. After researching this topic and reading numerous articles and Lou Holtz’s book, I would say that I am like Coach Holtz in that we are both disciplinarians. I believe that every aspect of a person’s life requires discipline and that is breeds into coaching or being a leader. Along with creating a culture of discipline, one needs to pay attention to the people that work for him or her, praise and reward for good behavior, punish bad behavior.

Discipline is often misunderstood in today’s society. I believe that discipline isn’t a bad word and can be a positive attribute and should not be confused with punishment. Discipline is the framework in which you teach a valuable lesson using structure. An important factor in becoming a good leader is to have values and or principles, ethics and beliefs. Make sure to articulate these core values, ethics and beliefs in a precise manner to your staff. This will hopefully ensure that you as the leader have provided them with a plan and a direction in which they are able to follow and attain individual goals. As a coach you must be able to direct your team and have your coaching staff and your players on the same page with the same goals in mind. Leading people is one of the hardest things to do, and I guess you can say that leading is only made easy when people want to be led. One thing that made an impact on me from Lou Holtz’s book, is that you need to treat people they way that you wanted to be treated.

“Even more important, I learned early on that if you help other people get what they want, you get what you want. Life is not a zero sum game: just because you win, someone else doesn’t necessarily have to lose” (Holtz 28). I totally believe this and you need to treat your boss, co-workers, players, secretaries, grounds crew and anyone else that you interact with on a daily basis with respect. This applies to every person in all walks of life, because we all want to accomplish our goals, and to accomplish them we all need someone’s help. To run an efficient lacrosse team or athletic department you have to be able to work well with others and be able to depend on others to do things for you or want to help you accomplish your goals. We all face challenges and battles every week at work, a good leader will be able to enlist other members to help solve the problem and not isolate themselves from the rest of the group. Coach Holtz through his many different experiences at the universities, in my opinion never wavered in the way that he treated his staff or players. To me, he was up front with all of them and demanded the same thing from everyone.

To work hard because success doesn’t have a direct relationship with talent, it has to do with be prepared and working hard and doing all the little things and putting the effort in. “You work hard and suffer because it makes you a better man. If the rewards you seek are found in praise and adulation of others, you are destined for disappointment, because the moment you drop one pass, or lose one game, the cheering stops and the praise goes away” (Holtz 78). I believe that hard work accompanied with discipline can be implemented into any facet of society and one can be successful. Personally, those two characteristics are the main foundations of the Concordia lacrosse program. I am trying to instill a culture of discipline through implementing study halls and accountability for my players. If you decide to put yourself before the team, then there will be consequences for your actions. Hopefully, modeling some of Coach Holtz tactics will help me in build a similar culture of discipline and respect here at Concordia. Coach Holtz said that when he arrived in Raleigh, NC at NC State that he had inherited a program with a losing record not a bunch of losers.

He had kids that were hungry and committed to a new way of doing things (Holtz 118-9). I guess what I take from this, is that I long to coach the athlete that wants to get better every day and will do whatever it takes to get the job done. The attitude that I will do whatever it takes, because I refuse to expect mediocrity. You must demand more of yourself and let your players see it, and in return they will work hard, it starts at the top and trickles down. I guess the last thing that I will discuss regarding the book is that family and faith can play a part in your life in coaching. Throughout the book Coach Holtz explains that he and his family took the night and prayed on it. That seems to have relevance to me because of my upbringing and where I am employed by right now. For the longest time as a college coach it has been hard to balance the job and your family and faith. Personally, I put my family on hold to pursue my career early on so that I could pursue my dreams. Now, I feel like I am playing catch up in that category because of it, and regarding my faith I guess it is nice to hear that you can do it all at the highest level of my profession. The trinity of my program is Family, Education and Faith and it is reaffirming to me that I can stick to my guns and keep it intact and I can strive for excellence.

The second part of this paper will discuss how the information that I learned throughout the semester will help me in my daily pursuit to become a great coach. From the first class to our last class at the Highland House, I have learned things that I will be able to apply in my job. This might be the most important class that I have every taken as a student, because this is directly related to my job and will allow me to do my job in a more informed and efficient way. In the next several paragraphs, I will touch on, what I believe to be the most important topics that I took from this semester. Hopefully, I will be able to express my opinions in a concise and deliberate manner. First, is the topic has to do with the NCAA and understanding all the rules and regulations that govern college athletics. Being that I have coached at the DI and II levels I was familiar with the NCAA in a different light than some of my other classmates. At the other levels, I feel that there are two areas that are totally different at DI, II level. First, has to deal with all the paperwork that has to be filled out concerning the time you spend with your current team, in and out of season.

The paper trail or work is so much more that the next level, that has to deal with, I believe with coaching scholarship student athletes. Second, the topic of facility management and what goes into the planning and developing and the running of college facilities, was very interesting and helpful to learn about. Not only because it is my second responsibility here at Concordia, but it allows me to know how some of the decisions are made around campus that may affect my program. The six functions of facility management which are: Planning, Designing, Marketing, Fiscal Management, Revenue Forecasting, Scheduling are very relevant to us here at Concordia because of the capital fund drive for the New Baseball and Football Stadiums. For someone that it is not involved in these meetings and does not know the first thing about the planning stages or raising funds, I find it very informative to at least know the basic functions of facility management. The third topic that I found very interesting was the law section of this course and how it applies to college and pro athletics and beyond. From better understanding Title IX, to what go into a pro athlete’s contract and negotiations, vendor contracts, to better protecting myself when holding a summer camps.

This section opened my eyes and made me think of things, that I normally would have dismissed. After the tragedy at Notre Dame, it really drove it home. Game contracts to the NLI, this topic I thought was going to be dry but on the other hand I was very in gauged in the subject. The last topic that I found very interesting and very helpful to me, dealt with the strategic planning section. Personally, I found this interesting because of two reasons: 1. My sport was part of a strategic plan not too long ago. 2. All the athletic improvements planned for the university in the future. Again, I know that this might sound repetitive but it is nice to know what goes and how all the decisions get made around campus. How things are ranked and what the University sees as an important improvement or asset. The class exercise that I was part of, in forming a strategic plan, I believe will help my program in the future.

I say this because it will allow me to form goals for the program that I will be able to monitor on a yearly basis and reevaluate if I have too. From capping my roster, to adding an assistant coach, to a new film room, this can all be done and hopefully planned for and executed. To close, I would like to state that throughout the fall, I have learned many valuable lessons from this course. It is my hope, to put some of these lessons into practice in my daily life, so that I may become a better coach and officemate to my colleagues.

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