September/October 2019 - 62

40 UNDER 40 perspectives
leading the way with a
POSITIVE CULTURE
By Chris Reagle, contributing writer
Winning titles identifies who the
champions are on the field, but how
do we know if we are building a
championship culture?
The value of a program is not in the
newest turf fields or the best squat
racks, but instead in the experiences
and knowledge of our personnel. Our
coaches are on the front line of any
athletic department and influence everything our studentathletes
do. They must be the ones trained on being
positive leaders just as much as, if not more than, our
student-athletes.
We are constantly learning theories of pedagogy
teaching us how to better connect with our students, but
the same goes for training our coaches. We need multiple
forms of communication. We need formal and informal
experiences. We need different types of media. We need
in-person demonstrations. We need all of this to be
successful. So, that's what we created. We developed an
organic program that's constantly shifting, changing and
developing with the intent of creating positive leaders.
One way we're building positive leaders is through
local speakers. We have the luxury of being in proximity
to Baltimore and Washington D.C., which gives us an
abundance of resources. We also are lucky enough to have
Rayna Dubose in our coaching ranks. She's a motivational
speaker and former Division 1 basketball player who
contracted meningitis, losing both of her hands and legs.
Not everyone has a Rayna, but it's amazing to watch
the students' faces when they see an individual who has
overcome something truly daunting and is thriving in the
face of adversity. Rayna is a regular speaker to all of our
teams and the JV boys basketball coach at our school. We
also have contacted several collegiate coaches in our area,
including University of Maryland women's lacrosse head
coach Cathy Reese. She has spoken with our coaches
about building positive team cultures.
The experience of those around us is an amazing asset
that sometimes we forget about. We have formed several
coaching mentorships, but we have had the most success
when we partner coaches with different backgrounds or
experiences.
One of these informal roundtables was with our head
football coach and several younger coaches. During these
meetings, we all shared stories of how to create a culture,
including where we failed, succeeded, and the importance
of holding everyone accountable. Most importantly, we
62 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019
talked about building positive relationships.
Our football coach is one of the toughest coaches I have
ever been around, but I learned that he spends eight hours
a day everyday building positive relationships with his
players and students. By the time practice comes, every
player on the field knows he cares about them as people
first and football players second. This allows him to hold
players accountable, and it gets them to buy in because
they know he has their best interest at heart.
Each year, I chose a new book to share amongst a small
group of coaches with the hopes of including all coaches over
the following years. Last year we read " Extreme Ownership, "
written by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, and Urban Meyer's
" Above the Line. " This year, we're reading Jon Gordon's
" Power of Positive Leadership " and Daniel Coyle's " Culture
Code. " We chose to focus on big picture problems that every
coach can relate to and ask ourselves to solve those problems
using the books as a resource. These can lead to more formal
book discussions like the ones my colleagues have started,
but we have had great success meeting in small groups to
talk about different ideas that really stood out. Our focus on
building the leaders of our student-athletes has extended
to our boosters club, which sponsors coaches to attend
clinics and speaking engagements to enhance the process of
building a positive culture.
Along with intrinsic rewards, we also have implemented
giveaways for random acts of kindness for our studentathletes.
We formed a partnership with Maryland-based
Under Armour, and have used this partnership to further
our commitment to positive leaders. Motivational signs are
strategically located all over our campus. Mustang studentathletes
have trained at the Under Armour performance
headquarters and received free Mustang gear for simply
doing the right thing and for participating in Under
Armour product testing.
The team atmosphere we built through our positive
leadership program has helped us come together as a
school. We see a lot more collaboration among different
sports, and that has led to success in competition. I want
this program to continue evolving and changing to meet the
needs of our coaches, which will ultimately help all of our
student-athletes.
Chris Reagle, CAA, is the athletics and activities manager
at Marriotts Ridge High School in Maryland. He's also a
recipient of Coach & Athletic Director's 40 Under 40 award,
a program honoring the next generation of leaders in the
sports industry.

September/October 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of September/October 2019

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