Athletic success is in the details.
It didn't take long before a couple of Willamette football players got the chance to display one of the "seven ways to lead" outlined by motivational speaker Bruce Brown in a two-hour talk given to more than 2,300 student-athletes who packed the gymnasium at Springfield High School on Wednesday morning.
"Hey! That's enough, knock it off!" they shouted in unison to a couple of younger kids who were shoving each other into the bushes while members of the schools' fall sports teams waited to board one of the buses the Bethel School District used to ferry athletes to and from the presentation.
Whether they realized it, the boys were employing No. 5 on the list of ways to lead a team: "Be the first to confront violators of team standards and the last to ignore them."
Brown hopes would-be team leaders will be as outspoken and quick to take action when the violation is of a more serious nature, and Brown made brief mentions of drinking, hazing, anorexia and other negative or dangerous behaviors.
Mostly, however, he talked about the value of having strong leaders on a team.
Fall athletes from the Midwestern and Sky-Em leagues, the Southwest Conference and smaller schools such as Crow and Elkton showed up to hear Brown speak at the third of six talks on a tour that includes stops in Bend, Coos Bay and Medford.
Brown, who has 35 years of experience as a teacher, coach and athletic administrator at the junior high, high school and collegiate levels, gave two separate presentations Wednesday morning. The first was titled: "Redefining the term athlete" and the second was called "Captains, Seven ways to lead your team."
Brown said he believes leadership can translate directly into more wins - and outlined his list, which included leading by example, avoiding cliques, praising others instead of bragging or drawing attention to oneself, avoiding criticism and encouraging your teammates.
During the longer "redefining an athlete" presentation, Brown discussed the character traits he believes define being an athlete as opposed to someone who participates in games and events.
He told students that he counsels college coaches to "be very careful who you bring to your team" and told them a story about a highly-skilled basketball player he planned to recruit who turned out to be "a selective participant" who didn't put forth effort in practices.
Brown described a true athlete as someone who has a "teachable spirit,
takes correction as a compliment, is selfless and puts the needs of the team over the needs of themselves, is disciplined enough to focus their attentions and their effort, is accountable and has the mental toughness to stay positive, enthusiastic and confident."
Brown spoke to approximately 500 parents Tuesday night as part of a presentation titled "The Parents' Role in Athletics," and said good coaches teach their athletes the same lessons that parents try to teach them, "except it's in a different arena, it's emotional and we keep score."
Brown said he wasn't trying to tell parents how to raise their kids but that he was there to represent young athletes based on the responses they gave him during interviews over the past 30 years.
"My athletes taught me everything I'm going to tell you tonight," he said.
Brown said young athletes benefit with unconditional support from a parent who may not tell their children often enough, "Good job," "I love to watch you play," or simply "I love you."
Freshman Kristine Umenhofer and Jenell Shaw, who plan to play soccer at Springfield this fall, attended the presentation with their fathers. Both girls said they were pleased their fathers heard what Brown had to say and Shaw wished her mother had been there.
"But I think my dad will talk to her about it," said Shaw, who also swims and competes in track and field.
Brown told parents that the best gift they could give their young athletes "is to release them to the game, the experience and the coach" and suggested that sports might one of the few places where children could take risks and fail.
Brown then ticked off eight red flags that may indicate a parent hasn't released his or her child. They included a parent taking credit for a child's success, trying to solve all the child's problems and yelling at officials.
As part of his research, Brown asked athletes - 72 percent of whom leave organized sports by the time they reach age 13 - why they played and what their favorite and least favorite experiences had been.
By an overwhelming margin, kids said their least favorite memory was of car rides home with a parent after a sporting event where they, their team or their coach had been criticized.
Brown suggested that parents save the postgame analysis for when the child isn't around and said young athletes frequently need time and space after an athletic event.
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|Title Annotation:||Prep Roundup; Former coach offers tips for athletes and parents on how to get the most out of their experience|
|Publication:||The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)|
|Date:||Aug 22, 2008|
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