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What Will your Legacy Be?

By Dr. David Hoch, CMAA, CIC

If you have recently started your coaching career, or even if you have been doing it for a while, it is normal to get totally engrossed in scouting, preparing, and practice sessions. Your entire focus is probably on the daily operation of your program. There is nothing wrong with this. But have you given any thought as to how you will be remembered?

In the course of your career, you will win some games and maybe even a championship here or there. Is this your legacy? While teaching skills, execution and striving to win games in your sport is important, there is so much more that is involved in coaching. When you leave the coaching ranks, how will you be remembered? Ask yourself the following questions:

Did you help your athletes develop as young people beyond the associated sport-specific skills or were you simply focused on winning games?

In education-based athletics, the number one objective is the former. Years later, many athletes will not remember the scores of games. They will, however, remember life-lessons, fun times, and shared experiences. What part did you play?

Did you sincerely care about the welfare of your student-athletes?

Some of your athletes may have had issues with classes, relationships, or tough life decisions that had to be made. Where you there to help your players when they had a problem and needed a sounding board or advice?

Did you serve as a good positive role model?

Young people do watch and emulate others, and coaches provide this influence and encouragement more than you might imagine. The language, mannerisms, and attitudes that you display make an impression even when you may think that they are incidental.

Were you demanding without being demeaning  

While you should expect athletes to work hard in an attempt to improve, there is a line between pushing for effort and being abusive. There is a maximum that states, “For every criticism, you should balance it with two positive comments.” How do you rate?  

Did you focus during practice sessions only on your top athletes?

Granted, your better players will see more time in the pursuit of winning a game, but all athletes deserve your attention and quality instruction. As a coach, you are a teacher and this means for every player. While athletes will improve at individual rates and within a particular range, it is important to help everyone reach their potential.

Did you appreciate that all of your players were distinct, unique individuals?

Beyond physical ability, everyone on your team has a personality, family, and interests beyond your sport. When something funny happened in practice or when one of your athletes excelled in some other activity, were you able to support and enjoy it with him or her?

A coach may never know if, what, and how much impact he or she might have had with players. However, most coaches do have a major effect and influence, and it usually has little to do with the number of wins they compile. What will your legacy be?

Is your legacy that you had an impact upon student-athletes? This should be the ultimate goal.


David Hoch retired in 2010 after a 41-year career as a high school athletic director and coach. In 2009, Dr. Hoch was honored as the Eastern District Athletic Director of the Year by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education. He was also presented with the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association Distinguished Service Award, and in 2000 he was named the Maryland State Athletic Director Association’s Athletic Director of the Year. Dr. Hoch has authored over 460 professional articles and made more than 70 presentations around the country. He welcomes comments and questions and can be reached at:

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