August 22, 2012 • Athletic AdministrationCoaching

Arrowhead: What Keeps Arrowhead Coaches Awake At Night?

High school coaches juggle a variety of duties throughout the year—parents, budgets, game plans. While on the surface it often appears that everything operates smoothly, coaches admit there are facets of their jobs that constantly present challenges.

Here is what Arrowhead High School’s coaches have to say about the aspects of their positions that keep them awake at night:

“During my 50-minute commute, I worry about what fire must be put out before I can start my day. It could involve a student-athlete who made a poor choice at practice or at a game. Mom and dad weren’t there, and now it’s what the coach said versus what Johnnie or Suzie said—and a parent is in the middle. Another worry is the game or meet the day before that I didn’t personally attend. Did everything go smoothly? Did all officials show up? Were fans behaving properly? Did we have a safe, injury-free event? Even though you plan for everything and we have a great staff and game managers that run things when I can’t be there, the buck still stops with the athletic director. That feeling just goes with the territory; it’s something that every A.D. has trouble letting go.”

Kevin Flegner, Activities Director

“We have a meeting; we sit down and talk about it and what’s going on with the player there. Give them what we see from our point of view and I don’t sugarcoat things, I don’t tell them things that are not true, so I never have to worry about coming back and trying to cover myself because I’m not going to put myself out there if I can’t stand behind what I’m saying. That’s part of the morals, the ethics and the standard that I hold myself to. I want to be able to go to sleep at night!”

Sherry Moseler, Girls Volleyball

“Simple questions that you run through your head like did I make the right decisions, would something else have made this better, how can I help her be a better player, a better person, get more out of her potential, getting everything out of her that I need to be? And as situations arise, just running those questions thru your head. Games especially. I think any coach would play the game over and over and over in their minds and what was the turning point and what made the difference in the game? Basic questions like that when you have invested so much of your own time and effort into each player and into the game, there’s no doubt you’re going to run it, play it over in your head a million times over.”

Sherry Moseler, Girls Volleyball

“For this season it’s goal scoring. I am baffled that we don’t score more goals right now. We play a really nice game, we play an expansive game, we play from side to side, and we get all of our players involved, we’ve got great players on the ball, but we cannot score, we cannot shoot. So we build that into practice daily but yet we’re still not there. It’s turning that possession into goals and that’s the thing that nags me most right now. That’s what all my scratches on paper are, that’s what all my notes on my iPhone are is how do we have so much possession and not score. And if I was to tell you from a different season, it would be something along those lines. It’s realizing what you have and why we’re not hitting the full potential right now. Or how do we get there? I think that’s the thing, too, is I think I’m good at knowing what we have been very realistic about where we should be and what we have. So what keeps me awake is not being where I think we should be, or if I see a glimmer of what we’re capable of doing, why aren’t we doing it all the time. Which is fine, I’m okay with that because I like to try to find the answers.”

Scott Asher, Girls Soccer

“I think about the character of my players. I want them to have character rather than being characters. Their golf skills don’t keep me awake at night because it’s not something that I can control.”

Greg Budzien, Boys Golf

“It’s not a sport where you can worry about what you can’t control. I know like the football coach will say I got to worry about what defense to play against them or things like that. For us the only thing we can control is how our students achieve. A huge part of that is that they are doing the right training, are they progressing, are we appropriately training them? Also a big part of it is confidence and that they can believe in themselves – little things you try to get them to re-psych even kind of the mantra for themselves. Their mental attitude they take into a race highly predicts how they’re going to perform.”

Mike Mulrooney, Boys Cross Country

“At the high school setting it’s difficult because you’re dealing with limited budgets and what that requires in some states the school district hires the athletic trainer as a staff member. In Wisconsin, it’s generally not done that way, I think there are a few schools that do, but you have outside entities that hire athletic trainers and it’s difficult sometimes to show the importance. A lot of what we do is not black and white numbers, it’s more general than that and they want to see referrals being brought in whereas you can’t control injuries so it becomes difficult at times because it brings business into the equation and that’s the most difficult aspect I think of the high school setting.”

Jason Abels, Athletic Trainer

“During the course of the season, all track coaches deal with about three or four different ways to enter your students into a program for a track meet. If there is one thing that absolutely drives me crazy, it’s the fact that when I make a mistake in these different programs when I make a mistake I could be hurting a child. I know this year I had two big invitationals. I forgot a child, and I know the coaches, I explained the situation, it was resolved, but you just feel so bad. Now we have regionals coming up, it’s the most pressure to make sure that regional lab is perfect and I don’t make mistakes on that because there is no favoritism to anybody. You just don’t want to make a mistake. So there’s been nights that you say what keeps you awake, there are the nights where I woke up at 12:30, one o’clock, got out of bed and something bothered me so I went back online and checked to see if I had it done right, and sometimes I had and sometimes I hadn’t.”

Steve Kostka, Girls Track

“I’ve got a rule. The rule is when I lay down in bed, my bed is for sleeping and I can always think about things before I lay down and when I get up. So I do a pretty good job blocking things out at night; I’m a good sleeper. But when there are those occasions where I’m staying up late and thinking thru things, I think part of it stems from having daughters and trying to make sure that I’m handling things fairly and consistently. You get challenged with certain situations where you may have star players, but they may have attitude and you’ve got the next tier player, awesome attitude. You got to make sure that you’re being consistent with what you’re doing and one thing I’ve learned over the years of coaching is that I’m not perfect, so my consistency has not always been there but I think I do a pretty good job at it. So for me it’s just thinking am I doing the right thing for the team and making sure I have my priorities right.”

Tom Truttschel, Girls Lacrosse

“A tough loss tends to keep me up at night. You always reflect on things starting at the top. Did I do my best job managing in that game? Should I have left the pitcher in there, even though the pitch counter said 93 pitches and I know he gets tired at 95? Should I have subbed that athlete in there in that position? Did we prepare him enough in practice so that he could step into that situation and it wouldn’t be something new, because we put a lot of pressure on these guys in practice to get them to relax during games.”

Vince Mancuso, Baseball

“It’s a lot of things. It’s the relationship with athletes—you get so close to these people over the course of four years and you’ve worked with them, in some cases, since they were coming to my camp when they were children. The other thing keeping me up is what we can do. At night I just sit there and think if everything goes perfectly, what can we do? Will it be another championship? Will these guys break state records? Are they going to break school records? One of the neat things about track and field is we may not win a championship every year but somewhere in the ranks of our 18 events, something is going to happen that might be the best this school has ever seen.”

Chris Herriot, Boys Track and Field

“Am I doing a good job at reaching out to all of my girls on an individual basis? We operate as a team but each member is unique in her own way and brings different attributes to the floor. I struggle with the thought of whether I am effectively coaching the girls on an individual basis. Each girl not only brings her unique talent to the team but also her individual way of communicating and learning.”

Nichole Wearing, Cheer

“First, it’s thoughts related to balancing family and coaching. Second, it’s athletes that quit. So far I haven’t heard a good reason for doing so.”

Jeremy Miller, Wrestling

“I constantly am concerned with the way our soccer players act away from the game of soccer. In our program, we adhere to the philosophy of ‘working on a championship while building character.’ I worry about my players following the co-curricular code, working hard in school and being outstanding members of the society, especially since I only interact with them a few months of the year.”

Jeff Staus, Boys Soccer

“Coaching is a profession that has a high burnout rate. It’s few and far between to see coaches around for 20 years or more these days. Coaches who stick with it for a long period of time can separate the negative issues and problems of coaching from their personal lives. The only things I let keep me up at night are teething babies and toddler nightmares. I worry about the players in general. I hope the girls make good decisions outside of the softball diamond because there’s more to life than playing softball. They are physically and mentally prepared but I worry about outside influences (friend, parents, etc.) having a negative effect on them. I want them to be good role models for the youth and positively represent Arrowhead softball in their daily lives.”

Emily Martin, Softball

“I worry about securing the training arena (ski trail), providing proper safety fencing, padding of obstacles, understanding the speeds the athletes will be traveling and the weather. We constantly are making adjustments based on the conditions of the day (snow depth, consistency, firmness of the snow, changing weather, athletes conditioning/skill, etc.) as to provide the best environment for these highly skilled athletes to perform. As a staff, our No. 1 concern is safety. Starting with the first practice of the year to the final run of a championship season.”

Will Nourse, Boys/Girls Alpine Ski

“With a program our size, my fear is I am not able to make a meaningful impact on each and every one of the players we coach. Although teaching the game, refining skills and motivation are fundamental to the job, I try to prioritize the overall experience for the players. I want their time to be positive and memorable, and they leave with life lessons and a mutual respect for each other.”

Erin Ennis, Boys Lacrosse

“To remember we have a lot of expectations, especially here at Arrowhead with our successful program, but at the end of the day they’re just children. It’s about making them into good people. My assistant coach and I are on the same page with that. It’s unique to high school athletics—teaching them to be good people. One final thing is with swimming, because the athletes’ faces are in the water, it’s difficult for the junior varsity and varsity to have much interaction, so I worry about how I can bring everyone together as a team.”

Jennifer Pollnow, Girls Swimming

“You think about matchups and how you are going to matchup with so-and-so. I don’t make a lot of lineup changes necessarily but especially early in the season, it takes some time to figure out who works well together as doubles partners. Once the season is underway, I want the players to compete well and play to the best of their abilities. We prepare them, but obviously we can’t play for them.”

Jeremy Schlitt, Boys Tennis

“Heading into the sectional and state meet, I worry about the numbers game, how we match up and who (outside of our school) is running well at this point in the season. I don’t want my runners to see that, so I stay calm and collected in front of them, but when I get home and look over the previous results, it definitely weighs on my mind.”

Curt Kaczor, Girls Cross Country

“Making sure the seniors have a great football experience. You never want a former player sitting in a bar talking about how good he could have been but his coaches didn’t know this or that. And I don’t even mean the Xs and Os—I mean understanding what a beautiful game football is. It is the idea of anonymity and group identity. You want to teach them hard work does pay off. We always tell them you have nine months of things that just aren’t fun about football. There are months where you just run and lift, and you lift and run. But sometimes life is like that and I want them to realize the big investment they put forward leads to some rewarding, team experiences.”

Greg Malling, Football

“I’m always thinking about ways we could fundraise more. But, for us, there is a fine line to this as we operate with a smaller board and our goal is to support the overall mission of the athletic department and not the needs of individual sports. So, for us, if we raise more money, are we taking away from the possible efforts of the individual sports to get their own funds? I’m also questioning myself like, ‘Are there better ways to sell our spirit wear? And, could we sell it cheaper to make it more affordable for all families?’”

Dawn Loke, Booster Club

“The thing that bothers me the most is when you want something so bad for that swimmer that worked really hard and they’re doing everything they can but they just don’t have the skills, things are not as easy. You watch some of these students come through and it’s a piece of cake, and they can be state champions and it comes naturally for them. Not that I disrespect those guys, but I love the swimmer that like myself had no talent and had to work really hard.”

Bob Jenkyns, Boys Swimming

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