Thursday, September 13, 2018


DeAngelo Wiser

Challenge me every day.
Hold me accountable.
Be the leader I need.
Take time to listen to me.
Don’t be my friend, I have plenty.
Quit making my decisions, I’m ready.
Let me know you believe in me.
Don’t ridicule me in front of the team.
Immediate apologies infuriate me.
Why am I not playing more?
That decision isn’t fair.
Why are we doing this?
What is my role on this team?

Tuesday, September 11, 2018


DeAngelo Wiser

Have you ever been to a meeting or conference where veteran coaches were obvious in their disdain for having to attend? How about having to listen to them as they make harsh comments and complaints? Now, I’m not talking about the problem coach that someone should have fired years ago. I’m referring to successful coaches who have soured over time.

As a younger coach, my thoughts always raced to an internal fear: “I hope I never get that way!”  I felt the need to distance myself from all the negativity before it consumed me. I used to wonder to myself, “How did this happen? I remember that coach winning a championship.”

However, after talking with and listening to many coaches, I’ve found those behaviors are a direct result of being ignored, forgotten and left alone.

Let’s look at all three. 

IGNORED- Veteran coaches usually have offered solutions to varying challenges within the sports department, such as field maintenance, gym cosmetics, developing coaching manuals, rules and expectations, board policies, etc. Many times their ideas were not taken seriously even though the problems impacted them directly. Instead, the issues were often handled by an individual or a committee with little sports experience. Over the years, resentment builds because their opinions and solutions weren’t considered or even acknowledged.

FORGOTTEN- Accomplishments from the past can be forgotten by new AD’s and Administrators. Veteran coaches have sometimes devoted their whole careers to the school, working on fields or in the gyms and giving freely of their time to camps. Yet, their records, championships and decorated players are forgotten. In a “what have you won for me today world,” yesterday’s titles are lost. Very often they feel no one cares and wonder why they even did it, or continue to do it. Realizing that none of that seems to matter can fuel a feeling of, “Why should I care?”

LEFT ALONE- A dilemma no coach ever puts a lot of thought into is getting to a point in their career where they are so trusted that no one checks on them, gives them guidance or holds them accountable. While it would appear to be a coach’s dream, it can be a lonely feeling. Players expect to be disciplined when they step out of line. They expect someone to teach and guide them regardless of their grade. Remember, coaches do as well, regardless of their tenure. Being left alone, while at first seems like a badge of honor, creates a feeling of not being an integral part of the sports department. 

If you’re an Athletic Director, especially a newly hired one, veteran coaches can potentially be one of your biggest challenges. They can be set in their ways of doing things within the athletic department, and may either confront you or do their best to ignore you. In either case you have to establish a solid relationship so they have an understanding of your expectations and guidelines of accountability for every coach within the department.

With that in mind, what does a veteran coach offer that is valuable, not only to their team, but to the athletic department?

Experience- Expert in dealing with players, administrators, officials and parents.
Knowledgeable- A true tactician. Ability to handle game situations is almost flawless.
Resources- Knows every avenue to find answers and solutions.
Relationships- Fosters goodwill to colleagues, officials, and business people.
Credibility- Has shown the ability to build a successful program. Follows the rules.
Recognizable- The face of your school in the community and beyond.
Loyalty- Heart and soul have been given to their school, sport and players.
Dedication- Always had one main goal:  To coach and support their team.
Commitment- Rarely missed a day.  Always a role model for their players.
Caring- Went over and beyond in supporting players in personal challenges as well.

The key is to tap into these qualities. Let’s remember the three areas contributing to veteran coaches becoming negative and cynical: Being ignored, forgotten and left alone. How can we eliminate those three terms and use our veteran coaches’ attributes to help the department and reignite their passion?

Accountable- They don’t want to be treated any differently. They need guidance just like any other coach in your program.  Experience is not a free ticket, but the key is to treat them as a peer, not a subordinate. If they step out of line, call them on it. Evaluate them just like any other coach.  Will they like it? Probably not. Do they need it? YES!

Higher standard- Remind them you hold them to a higher standard. They need to realize their accomplishments and experiences make them a role model and ambassador for the other coaches in the program, the school and the community.   

Recognition for Achievements- Take the time to highlight their personal and team achievements at a sports halftime, post something on social media every month (blast from the past) or send an online article to the local newspaper. Their accomplishments, while a few years ago, shed a positive light on the sports program, and give others new insight into your program’s history.

Listen/Let them fight- If they have a potential solution for a problem, take the time to listen. Should they want to take it to a higher level, such as the school board or superintendent, encourage them to do so. Just remind them of the risks. Nothing gives a person greater purpose than advocating for a cause.

Bigger Roll- Can your department, school or district, use their experience in a supplemental role while they coach or when they retire? That could be an Assistant AD, Sports Program Ambassador, Sports Fundraising Director, Sports Academic Advisor/Coordinator, Fields and Facilities Coordinator, or other roles.Think of all they bring to the table that can benefit everyone.

Insight/Intuition- Veteran coaches are masters of insight and intuition. During a game, they are always thinking and seeing ahead. Get them involved on athletic committees that make decisions impacting your school’s sports. Another voice of experience can be a positive when weighing all the factors. Giving back is a great way to cement their legacy.

Coaching Trainer- Every program needs a trainer for newly-hired coaches. Given their personality, demeanor and ability, a veteran coach may be a great fit in this position. Having experienced so many of the challenges young coaches will face makes them a great possibility.This certainly could be a position they hold in addition to regular coaching duties, or, in some cases, a stand-alone position.   

Veteran coaches have devoted their careers to their sports, and sometimes to one school.  No one carries a brighter torch for their sport than these men and women. Ask them for ways to improve their sport at your school.  Put them in charge of finding solutions. No one will work harder or with greater purpose.  These coaches are a valuable asset and, given the opportunity, will continue to work tirelessly for your sports program.

Veteran coaches didn’t grow into a cynical and negative outlook with age. They got there feeling ignored, forgotten and left alone. Take the steps necessary today to use these valuable resources in a positive way to benefit not only them, but your sports program as well.

I wish you and your program the best!

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Thursday, March 1, 2018


DeAngelo Wiser

My wife and I were in Indianapolis recently and coincidentally there were several AAU Men’s basketball teams in our hotel. These were mainly 16, 17, and 18 year old young men, and very respectful. 

On the morning of our departure, a few members of one team were waiting for an elevator to take them to the lobby. As the others gradually arrived, I noticed the coach approaching. When the elevator arrived, they followed the coach and piled in, leaving no room for anyone else, and headed down, leaving my wife and me standing there. 

While it wasn’t a big inconvenience for us, I couldn’t help but think about the missed opportunity for a teachable moment by the coach. What if he had looked up and said, “Hold on guys.  Sir, you and your wife take that one. We’ll get the next one.” 
For me, the shaping of a team’s culture is formed during opportunities like this in which those who don’t know your team come away with a “wow” impression.  While perception may not be important to you as a coach, the lessons you teach your team everyday should be.

During our season when our team stopped at Fast Food Restaurants, I always did my best to make sure our team let others go first before we ordered. It can be very crowded with 25 players at the counter. After a few times, it was so rewarding seeing them move out of the way or let someone else go in front, without any words from me. 

The culture of your team is always on display, whether in public, practice or a game. That culture takes time to build, but the results will last a lifetime.


As defined by Merriam-Webster:
The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization. 

What foundational base do you use to build your team culture? What components are critical? What preferences from your own values and character do you use? What traits in your personality do you bring in? Leave out? Do you want your team to be a clone of you? What are the advantages? Disadvantages?  Can you shape your team culture without input and assistance from your players?  Why is it important to include them? After all, the current group of freshmen will be gone in four years and the others will have graduated before that.

Shaping and forming a team and program is always something that brings great satisfaction. It doesn’t happen overnight, and always has its challenges. 

What’s do we need to consider when creating and shaping the culture of our team?

INDIVIDUAL PERSONALITIES- Every player is unique, so don’t stifle their creativity with rules and regulations that mean very little.
INCLUDE THE TEAM/EMPOWERMENT- Have a meeting as soon as possible to establish expectations with your players. If there are some guidelines that you must have, let them know, but make sure they’re allowed to decide/discuss on others with you.
BE TOTALLY LIKE YOU- No, none of us is perfect. Varying opinions and ideas are what make a team great. Give your players space to comfortably be themselves using their attributes to succeed on their own. 
WHAT’S BEST FOR THE TEAM- This should always be a consideration as we create any expectation.
VALUES- Just because we’re a coach, it doesn’t mean we can force our values on our players. Consider other input and ideas when appropriate.
TOLERATED/NOT TOLERATED- There may be times when you have to bend a little when generating an expectation. Consider how important it is or is not. Those behaviors that will not be tolerated are usually pretty clear. The challenge is not to have so many rules that your team can’t be themselves.
VISION- What do you want your team to look like? What do you want your team to act like? Once you have that vision it’s pretty easy to set your goals. Never lose the vision.
TEAM GOALS- Work with your team and decide where you want to go and how you plan to get there.
ENVIRONMENT- “You get what you expect.”  If your vision is to become a reality, you’ll have to challenge your players every day. It may be tough but never waver. Just encourage them every chance you get.
ACCOUNTABILITY- Step up and let the team know you’ll take care of this area with respect to each incident regardless of which player is involved.
LEADERS- While the obvious answer may be you, select leaders from your team with your players.
EVERY MOMENT- Every situation is a teachable moment for you as a coach. Be keenly aware of every opportunity to mold and shape your players.

It’s not only shaping the culture of your team, it’s shaping the culture of your program. To do it, you have to sell everyone involved on your vision and expectations for the program. Parents, Administrators and Players need to be shown the benefits and rewards of where you want the program to go. Once you have everyone on board, the challenge will become a reality.

One of the biggest highlights for our team was the year we  won the “Officials’ Sportsmanship Team of the Year Award.” This was annually given to the team that exemplified the best sportsmanship in our game. In 20 years of coaching, our team only had one red card incident. I made sure our team understood what we expected with respect to how they conducted themselves on and off the field. And, as you can tell, for the vast majority of the time, they conducted themselves accordingly.

Having command of your team may or may not mean you have the respect of your players. When you witness them reminding each other of established team values you’ve taken the first step toward shaping a positive culture with your team. That will always be a reflection of what you expect, and ultimately what you tolerate. 

Remember, it’s on display every day. 
Hold on guys. Sir you and your wife take that one, we’ll wait on the next one.”

I wish you and your team the best.

Sunday, February 18, 2018


DeAngelo Wiser

Be yourself
Use all the God given attributes you have with your team.

Use the light that shone for you.
Apply the best characteristics/traits from your high school/college coach/parents/minister/teacher/mentor. How would they handle this situation?  Don’t be reluctant to call them.

Be able to sleep at night.
Exhibit character and integrity in everything you do- Do what is right regardless of the player or situation.

Inspire through your example
Outwork your team in preparing for practice, games, trips and meetings. Show them how important preparation is at all times.

Trust those around you
Challenges and distractions will take a huge amount of your time. Delegate.

Be what you hope to see
Be positive, encouraging and enthusiastic. Remember you set the tone.

You get what you allow
Biggest complaint I hear from former players is “These players won’t do what I say, or they aren’t motivated.” Remember, you get what you expect.

Stay on your path
Don’t let one bad moment by one player define your practice or a game, remain focused on so many who count on you. There will be time to talk later.

 Be willing to hire someone who could take your place.
Hire an assistant coach who isn’t like you, and not afraid to question your decisions. If you both always agree one of you isn’t necessary.

Step to the front if you lose, and to the back in a win.
Always give your team credit for success and always take the blame for losses or bad times.

Impacting players lives in a positive way should be your goal.
Coaching is about moments, not championships and trophies. Every day you’ll have the opportunity to connect with players in a positive way.

Listen with the intent to hear and understand.
Allow someone to vent, you don’t have to win every battle. Listening is one of the most important skills you’ll need in this profession.

Everything you and your team do is a reflection of the school, your family and yourself. Remind yourself even in the toughest of times.
Be willing to step up and lead
Decisions will be a big key in how effective you’ll be with your team- players are watching and recording how you handle it. Be consistent in holding all players accountable.

Build decision makers
Whenever possible allow players to make decisions on the field or court. There will be many times when this is necessary. Take away their complete dependence on you. When they say I did it all myself, you’ve done your job.

I wish you the best in your career, and positively influencing other coaches