OPINION: Sideline Slants

It?s easy to define the attributes that make a good coach, right?

A good coach can…

n evaluate talent;

n blend 10 or more individuals into a well-oiled machine or team;

n make well-timed substitutions without offending anyone, parents, players and sportswriters;

n know when to give players a well-timed and well-placed verbal kick

n know when to encourage them;

n communicate effectively with players, parents, officials and sportswriters;

n be a positive role model for young people;

n teach and value the importance of sportsmanship;

n recruit good student-athletes with character (primarily for college coaches and coaches in private high schools);

n dress well;

n tell funny stories as a guest speaker at service club meetings;

n win nearly every game;

There?s a problem with this definition and list. It?s next to impossible to achieve and the premise is bad.

Truthfully, I think most fans overlook some of the sportsmanship and character issues if their team wins. But using the win-loss record shouldn?t be the only criteria in evaluating a coach either.

For starters, if you base success primarily on the win-loss record, you?ve got a problem.

Using that criteria, is it fair to say Hillsboro High School boys coach Darrel Knoll and Tabor College men?s coach Don Brubacher didn?t coach as well this season as they have in the past? After all, the HHS boys didn?t make it to the state tournament this year and the Tabor men were never in contention for the KCAC title.

Suffice it to say the win-loss record doesn?t tell the whole story.

I?ve officiated long enough to see many upsets.

I?ve also seen overachieving teams be competitive when they didn?t have their opponent?s physical ability. Good coaching makes a difference. Good coaching doesn?t always translate into victories, though.

I visited with a coach about this issue a couple of years ago. He has seen the pinnacle and pit of high school basketball coaching while at the same school. His team has won state high school basketball championships. He?s also had teams that won only a few games.

He says that he probably coached just as hard or harder with the team that lost most of its games. As the losses piled up, so did the frustration. Finally, his assistant coach pointed out that he was doing a great job just to put his team in a position to win a few games.

There?s something to be said for a coach who wins all of the time with great talent. At least the coach didn?t mess it up. It may say even more when a coach is able to win games with limited talent.

How talented were the Hillsboro High School boys this year? They were talented enough to be one of the preseason favorites in Class 3A.

Injuries to some key players rightly lowered the expectations. The fact that Hillsboro still had a winning season is a tribute to all of the players and coaches.

The Tabor men?s basketball team did not have as much size and talent as they?ve had in the recent past. True, a college coach is responsible for recruiting talented players, but by the time Brubacher was named head coach last year, not much could be done to immediately improve the talent level.

This year?s team didn?t have a winning season, but they were competitive and they showed improvement, positive signs of a well-coached team.

The coaching profession is not getting easier. I believe more coaches are putting more time and effort into learning the game and making improvements than ever before.

I may not be too bright, but at least I don?t put my future in the hands of 15- to 22-year-old youth.

Few of us are critiqued in such a public way. It seems that many people at basketball games know what it takes to officiate and coach at the same time.

A few years ago, Abe Lemons commented on the unfairness of being a coach: ?Finish last in your league and they call you ?Idiot.?

Finish last in medical school and they call you ?Doctor.??

More from article archives
Former coach returns to lead rebuilding effort for HHS baseball
ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF The Hillsboro High School baseball program coach Phil...
Read More