Monday, August 25, 2008

5 Questions With A Head Coach

Southern California is full of exceptional sports and exceptional coaches. Often, a motivated and caring coach can make all of the difference for players. One such extraordinary individual is Coach Manny Ojeda. Assistant coach for the Southern California Breakers and Head Coach for the TC Titans, Manny always has a smile and word of encouragement for you (even if you’re only reporting from the sidelines). Manny resides in North Long Beach, Ca with his wife of 22 years and has four children and four grandchildren. His oldest sons are also coaches. His daughter teaches Preschool and his youngest son is everyone’s favorite water boy that will soon start high school football himself.

Coach Manny always has a motivating thought for his players and is clearly well respected. When I first went to see his TC Titans play there were players and other coaches from his Southern California Breakers at the game to show their support for the beloved coach. I caught up with Manny recently for five questions:

1. How did you become involved in coaching? What are your basic coaching philosophies and how do you keep your players motivated?

I grew up learning and playing sports at the parks. It was fun helping coaches teach sports. The park coach would pick me to help kids that needed to learn the different sports, baseball, softball, volleyball, basketball, and football.

Philosophies; they change over the years, but the main and true are the oldest lessons - work hard, discipline, sacrifice, teamwork, fighting to achieve, and working towards a goal. We must always teach these lessons or else the country’s future population will be made up of a majority of crooks, drug addicts, and so on. Paul “Bear” Bryant said the same thing 40 years ago, I was 12.

Motivated: I had many coaches and fathers and mothers that coached. As teachers, the coaches used fear as the primary motivator, fathers used competition to performance and mothers used love and respect. My main teachers were my mom and dad. My mom gave me love and respect and my dad total sportsmanship, not winning or losing.

So with my learning I motivate by love and respect, it produces great memories and lasting friendships. All tasks are completed, discipline accepted. We uplift and inspire all expectations are increased. We want our players to be self-motivated, so we teach them day after day. I love the saying by Zig Ziglar, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well neither does bathing, that is why we recommend it daily..” Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going (by Jim Ryun).

2. What is the most vital ingredient one needs to be a successful coach? How do you keep your skills fresh? Do you ever stop learning/discovering? Do you prefer being the head coach or an assistant?

Love, desire, determination, commitment to excellence, iron will, and sense of freedom. Coaches should teach players to play together as one and play hard, winning takes care of itself. The big one: sense of humor...

Many ways, I try coaching and teaching to men, women, and children. We want all athletes to be successful. To learn life-long lessons. All levels require communication, as a teacher you learn. Some kids are fast and some are slow. What works for some, won’t work for others. Be open minded, as coaches we learn inventory assessment.

Learning /discovering - no one should think they know it all. Yes, you must learn always and not just football’s X’s and O’s (offense and defense symbols). You’re working with all kinds of people with different needs. Values, you must learn patience and compassion of others. As a coach , teach and treat people as you would want to be treated.

Discovering: As a coach you will learn yourself , coaches must stay in control of themselves. Your ability to make these quick decisions may be the difference in the outcome of the game. (Love and Humor) You’re always learning, how to get someone to do something they don’t want to do.

Head or assistance coach: I love being number 2, working hard behind the scenes. Number 1 must always stay focused on winning, as number 2 teach the way to reach the goal. Coaching is action not a title.

3. What level do you prefer to coach, if you have a preference (men's/women's/high school/ect.)? What is it about this level that is so rewarding? What is the most rewarding part about each level/league that you coach in? What is your favorite overall part of coaching?

First level of players are kids 9 to 18 years of age. We teach playing and having fun, building confidence and positive sportsmanship, practicing fundamentals, with effort and a will; never give up … Total team effort.

Second level are women - they are (usually) newer to the sport and are willing to learn. Our job is to teach fundamentals and have fun, with a positive and rewarding experience. It is imperative that everyone is working toward the same objectives and goals to secure a successful and positive experience for everyone…Every one plays and has a fun experience.

Third level are men - the challenges you must be a positive demanding leader, without being demeaning. Total relaxed and most of all confident in oneself...(there are many critics at this level and a must win “always”.)

Fourth level is men’s pro level indoor. Players want to win and fans want to win, owners need to win it is no longer fun - it’s “money.” I am a believer, builder and praiser. I teach the love of the game, not the love of money... the destroyer and critic.

Fifth level is the lower ages 5 to 8 years old. Teaching fun with a positive attitude. As a coach you’re laughing all the time.

All the levels of coaching helps. You must learn by doing. I have a desire to give back the benefits I received from sports. To teach other, so they will soon teach others.

4. What do you hope that your players learn from you? What do you think the most important thing you can teach them is?

Love yourself, so you can love others. You are serving others. Coaching is action.
Coaching is teaching first at all levels. Make a lot on time, talk with family and friends. Many hours go into coaching, you’re a awesome influence on players. Act appropriately.

5. What advice would you give to young people who are interesting in becoming a coach someday? What is the most important thing, in your opinion, that will help them attain this goal?

Advice on coaching: learn the game, read books, talk with coaches, go to games of all levels, become an assistant for a team and helping. You will learn a lot. Know your weaknesses and strive to improve. As a coach you will change with the wind or break. You will all keep learning, the game changes. I’m still learning.


Lindsay said...

I was actually just reading about coaching rugby last night, and the number one thing the book stressed was you have to love the game because you won't necessarily get paid. Only a small percentage of coaches are actually paid, so you really have to love what you are doing and not chase after money. Obviously that is true with whatever you are doing, and clearly Manny loves what he is doing.

Apryl DeLancey said...

Yeah - no matter what is going on with the team or the score he's always upbeat! He's an excellent role model and someone I really admire.