NYSCA 2012 Coach of the Year William Russell Cole
knows that his T.E.A.M. is important "Together Everyone Always Matters"
William Russell Cole of Lexington Park, Md. was presented with the National Youth Sports Coaches Association 2012 Coach of the Year award in New Orleans, La.
William Russell Cole coaches by a straightforward and powerfully effective acronym: T.E.A.M.
“I always tell my players Together Everyone Always Matters,” says Cole, the newly crowned National Youth Sports Coaches Association (NYSCA) Coach of the Year. “And I live by that.”
The 48-year-old Lexington Park, Md., resident coaches youth football, where he is adored, admired and appreciated in the community – and rightfully so.
The passionate and caring father of three focuses on fun and fundamentals; he stresses team pride and teammates supporting each other at all times; and the importance of players and coaches respecting each other.
“You have to respect your players,” says Cole. “I’m an ’ol southern boy and I was taught to say ‘yes sir, yes ma’am, please and thank you.’ And I do that with the children I coach. I don’t make them say that, but when they naturally say that back to me because we have that respect among us then I know I have done my job because we are raising these children to be the next generation.”
When the season kicks off Cole’s focus is on connecting with all the kids, and a method he uses with great success is doling out nicknames to everyone.
“We always look for ways to single our players out and to make them feel special,” he says. “By the second week of practice I know all the kids and I start asking what their nickname is. If they don’t have one then I or Coach Erin will give them one and by the end of the season they all have nicknames and they own those names. They call each other those names all season and it’s a lot of fun.”
Thanks to the special bond he shares with Coach Erin – his wife – they have formed a special coaching duo that pays big dividends for all the youngsters because of their non-stop efforts to be a positive and supportive influence for every child.
“Our family said it would never work and I said it would,” Cole explains. “It definitely works because where I’m strong she learns from me and where I’m weak I learn from her so it definitely works well. I have learned more effective methods to communicate from her than anybody. She speaks the language of children through her experience of teaching. There are times where she’ll look at me and say, ‘Russ, I know what you are trying to get across to them but try saying it like this instead.’ I’ve been her assistant manager for kickball so I know the other role so we work well together.”
They have created an innovative ticket program where they hand out tickets to the kids each time they do something positive, whether it’s showing up for practice on time or displaying good sportsmanship by helping a competitor up during a game.
“We watch and mark everything down,” Cole says. “It’s more important than the statistics.”
The more tickets the kids earn during the season, which get deposited in the team ticket jar, the better their chances of their ticket being drawn at the end of the season, where they can win a variety of prizes.
“We bring the ticket jar out to each practice and it gets bigger and they know at the end of the season at the team party they get to pick the tickets out so if you have more tickets you have the chance to get the toy you want,” Cole says. “They know that ticket jar is there every week so it’s an incentive.”
Before the season begins the Coles purchase a variety of toys in the $10 to $25 range. “We have a couple of toys that are bigger than the others, but everyone gets a toy,” Cole says.
As a youngster growing up Cole enjoyed playing sports, and he learned many valuable lessons that he is committed to passing along to the youngsters on his team.
“If my team goes 1-7 that’s fine as long as they support each other and they become friends,” Cole says. “I hold these guys together in the huddle and ask them who they are playing for and they’ll say a name and it never fails.”
He also is deeply committed to fulfilling all the responsibilities that come with coaching.
“It is my responsibility to be on the field first and it’s my responsibility to be off the field last,” he says. “You also have to communicate to the parents every way you can. When I was a parent and I wasn’t a coach I would look for the coach to get the information and I remember that and I don’t want a parent looking for me. I want to go looking for them because I want to give them everything I can as far as communication and experience.”
He’s certainly giving everyone much more than that.
He’s giving his players an incredibly rewarding experience and a lifetime of wonderful memories.
And that’s what coaching youth sports is all about.
GTM Sportswear is the proud sponsor of the NYSCA Youth Sports Coach of the Year Award. GTM contributes valuable prizes and monetary contributions in honor of great coaches across the country.