My first year as a Little League Coach

Updated: June 15, 2013

John Mclendon, “The inventor of fast-break basketball was an early pioneer of game preparation, conditioning, the fast break, the full-court press, and a two corner offense that became the seed for Dean Smith’s famous four corners, and he won eight CIAA titles at North Carolina College between 1941 and 1952.

by Eric D.Graham

NORTH CAROLINA (BASN)-Coaches are suppose to breed winners, demand respect, and preach honor and integrity.

If this is true, I was a natural.

Along with these skills, according to Bill Cole, the founder and CEO of William B.Cole Consultants, there are 15 other attributes all top-notch coaches must possess.

They are:

1.) Exquisite self awareness,

2.) High emotional intelligence,

3.) Broad vision with focus on important details,

4.) Nuanced, crisp, superb communication.
5.) Highest regard, caring and respect for players.
6.) Creative, innovative learner and developer of custom coaching methodologies.
7.) Perceptive, intuitive, curious and inquiring.
8.) Quick study with capacity for deep and wide learning.
9.) Student of coaching and other disciplines that support helping others.
10.) Sincere interest in players and desire to help.
11. Continuous learner of themselves and their experiences.
12. See coaching as a two way interchange of energies and learnings.

13. Humble, open, nurturing and grateful to the world.
14. View coaching as a calling, an art and a discipline.
15. Walking the talk and modeling a good life for their players.

Grambling’s Coach Eddie Robinson

After studying this list, I found out that I was qualified for the job.

As a result, this year marked the first time, I became an official coach.

And, I wore the title with pride.

Plus, in my mind, I felt after a couple of practices that I would be undefeated at the end of my rookie campaign as a Little League coach.

Besides, I knew I could motivate my players to perform at their highest level.

Plus, I was determined that I would allow them to be individuals while playing a team sport as well as having fun whether in victory or in defeat.

The Transformation

But, after a couple of games, I realized that being a Little League coach for a bunch of 7 to 10 year olds, with short attention spans, would be more challenging than I expected.

Because, despite, doing “everything right,” we still lose a few games, which we should have won, in my personal opinion.

And, within the first week, I felt a wide range of emotions.

They included disappointment, frustration, embarrassment, joy, confusion, amazement and pride.

I felt like Baltimore Orioles Earl Weaver, throwing a temper tantrum, the NY Yankees’ Billy Martin, kicking dirt on home plate, Dusty Baker, chilling in the dugout with a tooth pick in my mouth, and Sparky Anderson confidently smiling as if I was coaching the “Big Red Machine” in Cincinnati in 1975 to 1976.

But, honestly, I loved it!!!

Oh, yeah!!!

I loved every bit of it.

I loved the opportunity to shape and mold, encourage and teach, as well as discipline these children, who were trying to play the game we all have grown to love.

Yeah, I loved trying to transform boys to men.

But, in the end, I was being transformed myself.

Great Coaches

And, I must admit, after winning 5 of 11 games, which we of course should have won all 11, I developed a new found respect for great coaches like: Lenny Wilkens, who is the second all-time winning-est coach in the NBA with 1,332 victories, Grambling’s Eddie Robinson, who is the winningest coach in NCAA football history with 406 career wins, WSSU’s Coach Clarence “BigHouse” Gaines, who won 828 games, eight CIAA titles, and led WSSU to a Division II NCAA championship in 1967,

Georgetown’s John Thompson, who became the first African-American to win a major collegiate championship, Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin, who on Feb. 1, 2009, became the youngest NFL head coach to lead a team to a Super Bowl victory, Boston’s Doc Rivers,  Phil Jackson, who won 11 championships, which surpassed the previous record of nine held by the Boston Celtics Red Auerbach, Duke’s Mike K, who is the winner of four NCAA championships, 11 Final Fours, 12 ACC regular season titles, and 13 ACC Tournament championships, UCLA’s John Wooden, “the Wizard of the Woodwork, who won ten NCAA national championships in a 12-year period-seven in a row, Tennesee’s Pat Summitt, who won 8 NCAA national championships, Indianapolis’s Tony Dungy, who became the first African-American to win a Super Bowl,

WSSU’s Pete Richardson, who won three CIAA conference championships, four SWAC titles, as well as four Black College Football national championships, Vivian Stringer, who won 900 games, Miami’s Don Shula, who won two Super Bowls, and holds the NFL record with 347 wins as well as the only perfect NFL season,  and even, the “General” Indiana’s Bob Knight, who won 902 NCAA Division I men’s college basketball games.

Why? Because after every lost, and, before every win, I would find myself pacing in my living room, trying to find  new ways to motivate my players, watching YouTube clips of different coaching techniques, while jugging different line-ups in my head.

I would visualize for hours what I could do to improve my team’s hitting, fielding, catching and overall confidence, which would lead them to more wins.

And just like a little kid, on the day of the game, I would put on my uniform two hours early, staring in the mirror and start hyping myself up by rapidly clapping my hands and yelling, “Let’s go!!”

Seriously, I love doing this…..

And after the end of the season, I saw my team improve drastically.

Truly, in my eyes, they had become  better people, better players, and they loved being coached by me.

And I was truly honored to be a part of their lives if only for a brief moment in time.

Plus, I helped produce six players on this year’s All-Star team, which I was selected to help coach.

But, despite all of that, I felt my coaching debut was a success when several parents  said, “I love the way you coach….”


(pictured from left to right starting at top: Coach Eric Graham, Coach Chris Lesane, and Coach Mike Lesane, second row: Ahmad Lesane, Tylique Hall, bottom row Tyler Dixon, Case Barber, and Xzavier Pearsall. Not pictured Allen Lopez.)

Somebody had seen my brilliance, felt my passion, enjoyed my enthusiasm and applauded my efforts.

And for that reason, I can’t wait to next year….

“Let’s go babbbbbby!!!!!!


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