Jay Bilas, ESPN college basketball analyst, in his book ‘Toughness‘ described his time touring a U.S. army base in the middle east. The temperatures are known to soar to above 130 degrees. He asked soldiers on that base how they complete their duties in the brutal heat. ‘The circumstances don’t matter, Mr. Bilas. We know our mission. We have to make mission.’ Their response describes well how important knowing your mission can be.
Athletic directors are leading in tumultuous times. Sports has been a powerful influence in society dating back to the Greco-Roman period, but things do feel extra intense recently. Here are a few challenges that athletic directors must navigate – sport specialization, social media strategies, ill-informed parents, referee shortages, broadcasting home games, not to mention finding coaches that know their sport and align with your mission.
In the midst of these chaotic times is an incredible opportunity for coaches that are clear on their mission to impact student-athletes, parents, and entire school communities. The opportunity is incredible because the times are so chaotic and so few are ‘making mission’ well. So how can you get clear on a mission for your athletic department so that your coaches can go out and ‘make mission’ with your student-athletes?
Here’s how you can clarify it – develop a visual or scenario that depicts what a completed mission in the life of a student-athlete looks like. For example – according to The Messiah Method, the national powerhouse Messiah University soccer program wants players to finish each season having grown in five loves. Each player should be able to say, ‘I got to play a sport I love, with teammates I love, under a coach I love, at a school I love, for a God I love.’ Talk about a holistic mission for an athletic experience!
Ok, let’s say you get clarity with your mission and you’re ready to start moving your coaches closer to ‘making mission’. Here are 5 practical ways you can do that starting now.
- PUBLIC PRESENTATIONS – Never miss an opportunity to remind coaches, athletes, parents, and other school leaders about your mission. Whether you are addressing an audience at signing day, leading a parents meeting, or presenting at an awards banquet – always include a statement about the mission
- LETTERHEAD AND MEETING AGENDAS – Make sure it is on all letterhead and meeting agendas. And draw attention to it.
- COACHING INTERVIEWS – Present it to coaching candidates at the conclusion of an interview. I often will say, “Do you have any questions for me before I give you my spiel?” That spiel was the elevator pitch on our mission.
- T-SHIRT SELFIE – Have tshirts printed for your coaches and department staff with your mission on it. Hand them out a coaches meeting, take a selfie with everyone wearing their tshirt, and share it on social media announcing the groups commitment to the mission
- TELL ME A STORY – Dr. Jon Young, Athletic Director at Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, opens meetings with the question, ‘tell me a story.’ His coaches know that means to share something that has happened in their program that is evidence of the mission of their department being accomplished.
Whether you use these ideas or others, I’d encourage you to get clear on your mission and regularly put that mission in front of your coaches. And then get ready to celebrate when they ‘make mission’!