Our Time To Shine, Part 3: 2017 MSCC Class on Compassion & Communication

By Adam Reed

The 2017 class of MSCCs has a wealth of knowledge and experience covering a diverse group of athletes and programs. But when they were asked to summarize what they want their programs to be known for, many of them had similar thoughts.

“We’re all trying to get the same thing, so how can everyone work together to do that?” Darcy Gould, Associate Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Boston University says. “I think communication is one of those things we all have to work on.”

Gould, like many MSCCs, emphasizes the importance of communication, among her peers, with other coaches and staff, and most importantly – with the athletes.

One of the challenges coaches are facing is the way new technology has taken over with today’s athlete. Her solution?  Face time – not to be confused with the iPhone application.

“You can’t text someone or email someone something that sounds threatening,” Gould says. “You need to talk to them, so they know you aren’t threatening. Teach them that they have to go meet with people. This generation coming up likes to email and text and use Snapchat, but a lot of the coaches aren’t young though, and they don’t do that. So, communication is not going to happen unless you go talk to them.”

This may seem like an “old-school” approach, but there is no replacing one-on-one interactions with athletes. Coaches have to make it a priority to take advantage of every opportunity they have to spend time together, and build their relationship.

“First and foremost it’s about the student-athletes that you’re fortunate enough to work with,” says Evan Simon, Head Football Strength and Conditioning Coach at Oregon State. “They need to feel like they have had the ability to grow through the relationship you have built with them.

“Next to that, athletes should be able to recognize that you truly cared about them as a person first, in their development overall, not just their development as an athlete.”

In today’s world, student athletes often find themselves in the midst of processes that can dehumanize them. When your performance is constantly being evaluated, and coaches are always demanding more, it can become difficult to see that coaches really care, even if they do have their heart in the right place.

Gould feels strength and conditioning coaches have a unique opportunity to make sure athletes know someone cares. “Training is training,” Gould says. “For me, I want to be known for having compassion.”

Compassion may not be the cure-all for every athlete, but every athlete needs it, whether they realize it or not. Fortunately for the strength and conditioning coach, they have the perfect platform to provide it for them.

Being compassionate as a strength and conditioning coach means checking egos at the door and being prepared to work together. It requires less talking, and more listening.

“I don’t just listen to the other people in the field, but also to the athletes that I work with,” says Kerry Rosenboom, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Wichita State University. “They’ll give you some great feedback on what can make this lift or this workout better.

“It’s a personal relationship, where we are in this together. I’m not above you, I’m working with you for the same common goal. And I want all my athletes to know I truly care about them, not just as an athlete, but as  a person. That means more to me than anything I’ve done in my 30-plus years.”

In Part Four of Our Time To Shine, the 2017 Class of MSCCs share their thoughts on the future of the profession.