Coaches teach more than sports skills
Coaches pass along many life lessons while teaching athletes the skills of their sport.
Coach Dale McCumbee said kids learn about success, failure and adversity and how to work constructively and collaboratively together by participating in team sports.
McCumbee is in his 23rd year as Berkeley Springs High School head girls’ basketball coach and was state Coach of the Year for girls’ basketball last year. McCumbee has been high school golf team coach for the last nine years. He is a Warm Springs Middle School physical education teacher.
One of the big things McCumbee tries to get across to athletes is that “it’s not about you.” Everyone has an important team role and being an important member of a team carries on into the work force and life.
McCumbee said kids learn skills from sports that help them to be successful—they learn to be on time for practice, to work while their friends are hanging out, to follow through with a commitment and to make sacrifices in their personal life.
McCumbee said athletics did so much for him when he was in high school and college and spoke highly of coaches that mentored him.
McCumbee said it’s not all about winning. He’s always concerned about helping players with their issues.
“You’re more than just a coach. It’s almost like you’re their parent. You get to wear a lot of hats,” he said.
Coaches have many behind-the-scenes tasks. McCumbee watches game film, talks with other coaches and makes up programs for each game.
“There’s a lot of time involved if you want to be good,” McCumbee said.
McCumbee loves basketball, golf and coaching and getting a group of kids to work together toward a goal.
“Hope I’ve helped some people and some kids and hope they’ll pass it on to others,” McCumbee said.
Coaching harder now
Coaching is a lot harder than it used to be, with more days and longer hours involved, said John Rowland, who was head cross country coach for Berkeley Springs High School for around 25 years.
Cross country season is five weeks longer, which includes three weeks of summer instructional camps. Rowland jumped at adding the summer camps because it would give kids an advantage when they
Rowland also coached for the Greenwood Elementary junior program. He’s the former Greenwood Elementary principal and a current school board member.
Rowland has seen kids blossom, develop a dedication to their sport and train in all kinds of weather.
Rowland said he always looked at coaching as just being an extension of being a great educator. Athletics and academics have a great commonality, which is developing a better person.
Some students aren’t motivated by success in academics and need motivation to do their best academically. Sports provide that for a number of kids, he said. Athletes have to achieve minimum academic standards to stay eligible for sports.
Being in sports has given some kids the opportunity to go to college, sometimes a first in the family, Rowland said.
Self-discipline, work ethic
In distance running, athletes develop a great sense of self-discipline and also a great work ethic.
“These are two essential life skills,” he said.
Rowland emphasized it was important for athletes to choose a college based on academics and their major area of interest. They need to know what they’re going to study in college and what they plan to do in that field.
“You’re only one knee injury away from your athletic career being over. You’re still going to need a good job,” he said.
Good coaches are positive, enthusiastic and adaptable and also empathize with the kids, he said.
“It’s not about wins and losses, but catering to the needs that kids come to you with,” he said.
Rowland said he loves seeing the light bulb go on and watching the joyful expression as a kid understands what you’re trying to share with them.
“It’s just as good as it gets,” Rowland said.
It’s about the kids
Former Paw Paw High School basketball coach Roger Ross said “coaching is all about the kids.” Seeing kids being successful at life and becoming well-rounded individuals has meant more to him than winning games.
Ross coached for 29 years for Paw Paw Schools, mostly as a boys’ varsity basketball coach. He also coached baseball and girls’ basketball.
Ross knew students that wouldn’t have graduated if it wasn’t for sports. The kids worked hard to keep their grades up so they could play, he said.
A good coach has to establish a relationship with the kids, care about them and also show good sportsmanship, Ross said.
Ross said he loved to see a kid’s smile as they scored their first basket. It also meant a lot to hear an athlete say, “Thanks for putting up with me and showing me how to play the game.”
Set goals, work hard
Ross told kids to set goals for themselves, whether in sports, school or in life, and to work hard to achieve them. His door was always open and he was always glad to help kids out in any way he could.
Ross encouraged athletes to have a good attitude, be willing to learn about the sport and put forth a good effort.
“It’s true for anything in life. If you’re willing to put forth the effort, nine times out of ten you’ll be successful,” Ross noted.