Today’s post focuses on a conversation in my new book, Trouble in Discovery: Remington Rises Up. It is about a situation in the story where the head coach has a rule, but he chooses not to follow it in a key moment of a game because he doesn’t want to lose a very good player and affect his chances of winning the game.
I have been posting pieces of the conversation on Twitter and Facebook for the past week, and those will continue through Sunday. But you get to read the entire conversation all in one fell swoop here.
The conversation happens late in the book. It is between the young head coach, Del Brooks, and his older, veteran, assistant coach, Kevin Nixon.
Kevin provides a guiding, mentoring voice for Del. Del’s father, Mason Brooks, had been a very successful coach, and Del played for his father ten years prior to him now coaching at the same school.
Mason Brooks was a very good coach, who focused first on teaching, instilling, and modeling great character for his teams. He felt that if a coach did that first, the winning would follow.
Del has tried to follow in his father’s footsteps as a coach, and he preaches many of the same lessons that his dad did. Unfortunately, Del’s actions don’t always follow what he says he believes, so he doesn’t always follow through on his good intentions — especially if it might affect his team’s ability to win a game.
Del’s dad died unexpectedly of a heart attack a couple of years ago, and Del has struggled without him. It is one of the reasons he likes having Kevin Nixon as his assistant coach. Kevin offers similar types of guidance to Del that Dels’ dad used to give to Del.
Kevin came to the program with a lot of experience, some of it as a head coach at a large school in the same state. He, too, believes in a lot of the philosophies and principles that Mason Brooks believed in, and he is trying to help Del consistently live and coach by those principles.
Kevin gets frustrated with Del at numerous times in Trouble in Discovery, as well as in Ultimate Team Player, the first book in the series. But he sees a lot of good in Del, and he wants to help him become the coach Del says he wants to be — the kind of coach that Del’s father was.
The conversation happens at the stadium where they are playing in a post-season tournament. Del has just guided his team to a victory in the biggest game of his young career. But he did so at a huge price — he overlooked one of the rules that he has adopted from his father because he didn’t want to have to take one of his best players out of the game.
This is not the first time Del has done something like this. However, it is the first time he did it to the extent that he did it, and he is now struggling with what he now realizes was the wrong way to behave if he wants to be a coach who teaches and exemplifies great character. Kevin is trying to help him through it, while at the same time trying to process what just happened that led to it becoming this way.
It is a pivotal point that leads to one of the most important moments in the story and one of the most important messages in the book. While you don’t have to have read the whole book to understand what is going on here, of course, it will make a lot more sense if you do. You will also enjoy it a lot more, as you will see the total context within which this conversation takes place. You will also see the outcome(s) that it produces.
While you are at either place, you can also pick up the first book in the series, Ultimate Team Player. That book is on a $.99 special for the eBook and $9.99 for the paperback.
Both books are filled with many lessons for coaches to help them lead their teams, as well as for athletes to help them better understand all that goes into being the best teammate and athlete they can be.
From Trouble in Discovery: Remington Rises Up
Kevin could see Del was struggling. He said, “It’s a good rule, Del. Also, you didn’t put it in there. It was your dad’s rule. Your dad wasn’t an idiot. He was a man of character and integrity, and he wanted his players to be people of character and integrity, too. So, he had rules that helped them learn to behave the right way.”
Kevin paused and then said, “No, Coach, the rule isn’t the problem. You are. It’s the way you handle your rules. You create rules to hold kids accountable and create the right culture, but when your rules might affect your ability to win a game, you abandon them. You start enforcing your rules only for certain players, but not for the players who need them the most. You’re sending a terrible message to your players. ‘I have one set of rules for the stars and one set of rules for everyone else.’ Coach, you’re losing your team because you’ve lost your way trying to win a championship. If you let Connor play tomorrow, you might win a championship, but you’ll lose a whole lot more. You’ll lose the respect of your team, your school, your community, and anyone else who knows what’s really happening.”
Del said, “You’re right. I totally lost my way. I got so wrapped up in winning that I forgot who I was. I’m Del Brooks, son of Mason Brooks. We coach young men. My dad used to say, ‘When you start coaching the sport first and the people second, it’s time to get out because you’ve lost your way.’ And that’s exactly what I started to do.”
Kevin said, “Del, I agree with your dad in one way, but I disagree with him in another way. It’s not time for you to get out; it’s time for you to get up. You were knocked down by the desire to win at all costs. Well, you may have been knocked down, but you haven’t been knocked out. Stand up and do what is right. Follow your conscience, follow your standards, and follow your rule.”
Have you ever looked the other way with regards to your rules in order to win a game?
How did that make you feel?
How did you respond and then handle it?
Leave a comment and tell us about it. I know that might require some authenticity and vulnerability, but it can help others better understand how to navigate such a situation when it comes up for them. Thanks!