Monday, September 1, 2014

Discussion Guide for Coaches: "When the Game Stands Tall"

Ask me what I think of the movie "When the Game Stands Tall" and I would rather not give an answer. I am no where near as close to the story as the hundreds of young men who have played for Coach Ladouceur or the coaching staff that has worked for him and yet, I don't think I can give an objective response. I went to Carondelet—De La Salle's sister school, my brother had Coach Lad as his theology teacher, and I know many Spartans from before, during and after the streak. I am much more than a believer, so I'll punt. But there is one group of people I would like to recommend it to loud and clear: coaches.
The real Coach Lad...the real Game
We all watch movies through a given lens. Our world view is shaped by many influences: age, race, gender, creed, life experiences, special interests, our passions and more. As a high school coach myself, a lot of this story resonated with that component of my identity. The same could be said for parents of high school athletes or an athlete who has contributed a legacy...and those tasked with building a new one.

But at the annual Kick Off meeting hosted by the St. Ignatius athletic department I attended last week, I was reminded how much I enjoy the opportunity to gather with fellow coaches. Like a "new mom's group," we speak a common language, we face similar challenges and host similar complaints.  We don't gather together often enough, but whenever we do, many of us wish did more often.

I put two and two together. I began to wonder what it would be like to gather coaches together for a screening of "When the Game Stands Tall." I would love to hear how my colleagues respond to Coach Lad's personal and professional struggles. I would enjoy their thoughts on how they build a team on principles that are countercultural—that are at odds with the face of athletics at large. Gathering coaches together to discuss this in response to #StandTall is an easy way to get those, and learn other tips. So, I created a discussion guide for coaches. 
No coach can do it alone. To have a friend on staff is a wonderful gift.
I watched the movie for a second time and used the lens of a coach to fine tune my prompts to fit our perspective. While many of the questions are not exclusive to coaching, my hope is that this resource is one athletic directors can and will share with their staff. ADs, you already know that a group screening will require some very cold suds and time for war stories. And coaches, even if you don't see this movie with another coach, I have no doubt you will be eager to talk to another one about what you thought. I am one of those coaches. I would love to learn what hopes you had for your team as a result of the inspirational story told through this film—of course, bias aside.
If you would like a larger PDF of the "Discussion Guide" please contact me

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Real Lad

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