How do we measure success of high school coaches?

  1. #1
    Colonels_Wear_Blue's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 09
    Location
    Colonel Country
    Posts
    26,040

    How do we measure success of high school coaches?

    This article was originally posted in the Marshall County open job thread by @broadcaster, but it's an excellent read, and I felt that it needed its own thread here. This is a great piece by Chris Jung of the Kentucky New Era in Hoptown.


    COLUMN: How do we measure success of high school coaches?

    While working to refine the art of job interviews over the years, I have developed a go-to question that typically elicits a unique reaction from the employer: “How do you define or measure success of the person in this position?”

    Usually the eyebrows go up across the desk as the interviewer thinks carefully about how to answer.

    Most companies and businesses have metrics, statistics and figures that can quantify a response. Others might have to be more creative in crafting a retort, but most of the time it boils down to numbers — sales, customers, viewers/listeners, etc.

    Today, as I attempt to digest the firing of Marshall County High School boys’ basketball coach Gus Gillespie, I have an amendment to my interview question, which is being rhetorically directed to the universe: “How do we define or measure the success of high school athletic coaches?”

    Let me preface the remainder of this column with some transparency. In 2004, when Gillespie was hired as the new coach of the Marshals, I was getting my first taste as a sports media professional in Draffenville. Gillespie was the first prep hoops coach I interacted with, which is a big deal in Kentucky.

    His patience, understanding, accessibility and kindness were appreciated. I am even more grateful today as I was then for Gillespie’s tact while I found my way.

    Thirteen years later, after becoming Marshall County’s all-time leader in wins (293), and eclipsing 400 career victories during a consistently-successful coaching tenure, Gillespie is out of a job. He was informed Thursday by MCHS that the school is “seeking new leadership” of the program.

    Of the 412 games he coached while wearing the orange and blue, Gillespie won 71 percent of them. He also took two different Marshal teams to the KHSAA Sweet Sixteen, won 21 or more games in 11 of his 13 seasons and captured a slew of district championships.

    Additionally, Gillespie ran a spotless program, in which the majority of his players were recognized on the All-Academic District Team. Even more significantly, between 2007 and 2008, Gillespie slowly watched his 8-year-old son, Gunner, die as a result of an inoperable brain tumor.

    Gus’s faith never wavered, nor did his approach to his coaching duties. If anything, the immense family tragedy made him even more compassionate on the bench. His momentous loss seemed to rally the Marshall County community, bringing people together as the Gillespies publicly shared their grief while honoring Gunner’s legacy with foundations and fundraisers for pediatric cancer charities.

    As you read this, however, Gus Gillespie is deemed unworthy of continued employment within the Marshall County basketball program. But if he’s not deserving of that job, please tell me who is.

    Gillespie’s unceremonious dismissal is a sobering reminder that prep sports have drastically changed. These days, it’s more about wins than grins. Instead of developing good people, strong character and future bosses, we’re more concerned with title banners and the number of losses.

    Don’t get me wrong: I am not a proponent of the participation trophy movement. Winning at the high school level is certainly a goal, but it should not be the lone objective. In fact, it probably doesn’t even deserve a spot in the top 10 of most important purposes.

    Prep athletics should be about fostering relationships, developing an array of skills, staying active and working toward the ability to find dedication to a process and group of people larger than yourself.

    Where coaches are involved, it should be about remaining committed to the values of education, family and integrity. The priority should be placed on bringing together and understanding the backgrounds of dynamic individuals, encouraging teamwork and harboring a place where communication is cultivated.

    I haven’t personally witnessed Gillespie’s day-to-day operation at Marshall County for over a decade, but I am certain that his mindset was in line with that description of a true high school coach. Regardless, he’s searching for a new job.

    Let’s hope wherever Gillespie ends up next, he’s asking the right questions before accepting employment.
    Advertisement

  2. #2
    Bengal Maniac's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 10
    Location
    Wherever I want to be
    Posts
    7,676

    It makes no difference if you get on the wrong side of certain powerful people in the community or school district. None.

    Sometimes a person needs to decide to compromise their values or be ready to move on. I know that first hand.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jan 14
    Location
    Maryland Parkway at the In-N-Out Burger
    Posts
    1,126

    Quote Originally Posted by Bengal Maniac View Post
    It makes no difference if you get on the wrong side of certain powerful people in the community or school district. None.

    Sometimes a person needs to decide to compromise their values or be ready to move on. I know that first hand.
    Is it strange that I just read your post in my head to Jack's voice?

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jan 16
    Posts
    886

    Measuring the success of a Coach?

    Danny Weddle had a link to this article and I thought it might be a food for thought item.

    COLUMN: How do we measure success of high school coaches? | Web | Kentucky New Era

    I agree that H.S. Sports is being more and more driven by wins and losses.

  5. #5
    PurplePride92's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 06
    Location
    If I was you I wouldn't like me either. #Views #teamstaywoke
    Posts
    84,000

    We already have a thread about this column. I'll merge them.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Oct 12
    Posts
    963

    I almost think its not about wins and losses as much as you think. Its about me, me, me, and parents getting embarrassed about what their child is not doing/getting. Almost every weird coaching change, one that looks like it should not have happened is parent related. Two toughest jobs in Kentucky are head basketball coach and a preacher. Making everyone happy is hard. Good players are about what is best for them again me, me, me. They will transfer in a heart beat if they are not getting what they want. I guess when they do not get a job they want they will crawl in a corner and cry.

  7. #7
    BigVMan23's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 13
    Location
    Near Frankfort
    Posts
    8,718

    Success for any coach is much more subjective to me, but many want it to be objective. So, whats the one objective evidence people can use? Wins and losses.

    I have seen basketball teams lose a lot of games...lets say a team goes 5-25 or some such. That team may have very little talent/ability but the coach gets everything from the kids and is able to put who he has in the best position to get what ability they do have out of them.

    Another coach might have all the talent in the world and goes 30-5, yet is in close games all the time and maybe loses a couple of games a year most think they shouldn't.

    Who's the better coach? Give me a guy who interacts well with the kids and who the kids will run through brick walls for. Those coaches almost always get the best they can out of their players, and that's ALL anyone can ask.

  8. #8
    SnottieDrippen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 15
    Location
    Temecula
    Posts
    2,944

    Unfortunately, a lot of how we measure a HS coach's success is determined before the coach even gets to watch the kids play.

    I don't know if it's right, but I think informing kids at an early age, 8-12(full disclosure, I don't know at what age a child can process that information) how advantageous sports can be in furthering one's education and love for the game, should be a requirement asked of all coaches, from Little League, all the way up to the varsity level, and even college coaches. There's a fine line there to avoid burnout, but getting kids to the next level is a seriously undervalued aspect of being a head coach, and next-level players, generally speaking, make for better teams.

    Wins are nice, and if you're able to be a great leader of young (wo)men along the way, that's ideal, but to stoke the passion a kid has for a sport and inspire, not force, them to take their talents as far as they can is next-level coaching.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Feb 17
    Posts
    2

    The value of kids moving on to next level or continuing their education is certainly important, especially if they have no other avenue. But I would never talk to my players about playing on the next level, and I have had a few. To me making sure they are pushed to their limits and understand to love the game and have fun are the keys. Wins or losses will come. Playing on the next level will happen if they want it bad enough. However, I think bringing it up and adding undue pressure to kids, high school or younger is not the thing to do. I always tell my guys, make yourself the best high school player you can be. Don't worry about the next level. They will find you. I can also tell you this, having coached in college, most schools offering scholarships are looking for quickens, size, then ability. If you don't have the first two, chance are slim, no matter how many points you score. I don't coach anymore, and maybe things have changed, but surely not that much.

  10. #10
    bulldog77's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 01
    Location
    No. Ky.
    Posts
    3,105

    While conceptually I will agree with the Next Level thinking, there are a couple of caveats that I have learned over the years.

    #1 there's always somebody out there that will give parents and/or players unreasonable expectations about a kid's ability to play at the next level. While I truly believe there is a college situation for almost any good to very good high school or select player, there are kids who think they're bound for an SEC school and would have a hard time getting significant innings at a DIII. Usually some well-intentioned yet uninformed coach gets the kid's or parents' expectations up beyond reality.

    #2 The reality of playing collegiately is that only a tiny fraction of players get "real money" to play at the next level. The vast majority are paying big dollars basically to play at smaller schools. I know this to be especially true in sports like baseball or volleyball.

    To the point at hand, great coaches should never be measured by wins and losses alone. Particularly distressing is the reality that schools competing in a single class system like ours in most sports have multiple disadvantages that being a great X's and O's coach are NOT going to overcome. Teach the game well, hold kids to high standards, make them love the game, produce kids of character. Those are the hallmarks of great coaches I believe.

  11. #11
    sweet16's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 02
    Location
    The real WKY
    Posts
    19,493

    Quote Originally Posted by World Cup View Post
    The value of kids moving on to next level or continuing their education is certainly important, especially if they have no other avenue. But I would never talk to my players about playing on the next level, and I have had a few. To me making sure they are pushed to their limits and understand to love the game and have fun are the keys. Wins or losses will come. Playing on the next level will happen if they want it bad enough. However, I think bringing it up and adding undue pressure to kids, high school or younger is not the thing to do. I always tell my guys, make yourself the best high school player you can be. Don't worry about the next level. They will find you. I can also tell you this, having coached in college, most schools offering scholarships are looking for quickens, size, then ability. If you don't have the first two, chance are slim, no matter how many points you score. I don't coach anymore, and maybe things have changed, but surely not that much.
    I think playing at the next level has very little to do with the success of a coach. Very few players at the HS level move on to play at the next level anyway.

    Can they get the most out of their kids?
    do they help the student/athlete become good citizens?
    do they treat the kids fairly?

  12. #12

    Join Date
    Apr 14
    Posts
    127

    What's missing in everyone's responses, while I like parts of all of them, is simple: Do the kids want to play for said coach and are both player and coach building a life long relationship? Sounds corny, but this is how I'd measure a successful coach.

  13. #13
    PurplePride92's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 06
    Location
    If I was you I wouldn't like me either. #Views #teamstaywoke
    Posts
    84,000

    Quote Originally Posted by PurplePride92 View Post
    We already have a thread about this column. I'll merge them.
    Out of all the posts I have made on BGP I never thought this would be one I'd get a Dislike for.

    #supertoughcrowd

  14. #14

    Join Date
    Oct 12
    Posts
    826

    Quote Originally Posted by BasketballJunkie3 View Post
    What's missing in everyone's responses, while I like parts of all of them, is simple: Do the kids want to play for said coach and are both player and coach building a life long relationship? Sounds corny, but this is how I'd measure a successful coach.
    As corny as it may sound to others. I'm with you there. No better example than Coach Sullivan at Cooper. He builds players and (family)relationships that carry on well past graduation.

  15. #15

    Join Date
    Dec 15
    Posts
    440

    Quote Originally Posted by sweet16 View Post
    I think playing at the next level has very little to do with the success of a coach. Very few players at the HS level move on to play at the next level anyway.

    Can they get the most out of their kids?
    do they help the student/athlete become good citizens?
    do they treat the kids fairly?
    Half the high school coaches out there do not accomplish any of this, nor do they try. Treat the kid fair, and talk to them with respect. This will get you respect and they will play the best for you. This along with some life lessons along the way build a better character out of the student and Coach. More wins will come when a team will play there heart out because they enjoy playing for the coach and with each other. I know one team for sure this last season that had a lot of talent but most of the players had no respect for the coaches, and it was easy to see why. Their record wasn't the only thing lost.

Top