DEVELOPING THE CHARACTER OF A PLAYER AS MUCH AS THE SKILL
by Mrs. Caroline Bradford ‘03
PE Teacher and Varsity Tennis Coach
Winning is often defined by the number of games a team has won, the number of championships a program has achieved, or by the number of athletes that have gone on to play at the next level. Individual statistics play a large part in an athlete’s perceived accomplishments, but what if there was more to winning than just the outcome of a game or an individual statistic? What if our overall goal was more about the Christian character development of young players as opposed to just wins and losses?
It is important to focus not only on skill development, but on personal, spiritual, and mental development and growth of athletes. Prayer before practices and games, daily devotions, and accountability groups are just a few of the many ways in which coaches are able to pour into players on a personal level and help student athletes grow spiritually and emotionally. Character development plays a large part in a student-athlete’s success on and off the field, and many coaches, at all levels of sports, make that a priority with their teams.
Mount Paran Christian School Varsity Baseball Coach Kyle Reese says, “I encourage my players to get the focus off themselves and onto their teammates.” One of his main goals is to get everyone to understand that if they are taking care of their teammates, then everyone is under care. Coach Reese references Proverbs in many of his team devotions and says one of his favorites is Proverbs 11:25 “…those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” Professional baseball player and recent graduate, Taylor Trammell ‘16, echoed Coach Reese’s thoughts and spoke about how important it was to him to begin and end practice with a quote or devotion focusing on character development and being a good teammate: “The quotes Coach Reese shared before practice often gave me encouragement throughout high school, both in the classroom and on the field.”
Bree Brown ‘16 spoke about her former basketball teammates Shannon McGeary ‘14 and Emily Spillane ‘14 and how they set an example of what it meant to be a positive role model and teammate both on and off the court. Positive leadership and encouragement from other players encouraged her to work hard at practice and want to play her best for her team. Brown also credits Varsity Basketball Coach Tab Griffin with being able to motivate her — which she believes, comes from coaches desiring to know their athletes on a more personal level.
Coaches often play a large factor in molding the hearts of athletes on the MPCS campus. Whether it be through encouraging players to put God first, praying before competitions, or developing accountability groups, MPCS coaches work to develop the character of a player as much as their skill level. Though coaches are always striving to win games, the development of Christian athletes is the ultimate way for coaches to attain victory.