By: Greg Bach, VP, Communications
National Alliance for Youth Sports
With the NFL season thankfully underway, here's an interesting slice of trivia: Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh is the only coach in NFL history to win a playoff game in each of his first four years.
Pretty impressive, considering Hall of Famers Chuck Noll, Tom Landry and Don Shula didn't do it.
So why am I, an obsessive, life-long – and long suffering – Detroit Lions fan raving about the Ravens' coach?
Let me explain.
A couple of years ago we were putting together our Coaching Youth Sports training video, so we reached out to pro and college coaches to see if they would be interested in sharing their insights on the best ways to teach a host of key topics.
The Ravens media relations director informed us that he liked the project and that we could interview him on camera after a practice.
So we sent our dozen questions up to him in advance, never imagining that an insanely busy NFL coach would have the time – or even the interest – in looking at them.
A month later we were standing on the sidelines at the conclusion of a practice, waiting our turn as he did a flurry of interviews with local television and newspaper reporters.
As we watched this whirlwind of activity, the media relations director came over and stuck a dagger in our plans, telling us that his schedule was filling up and we would have to pick out just a couple questions from our list because he wouldn’t have time to tackle them all.
But when he eventually came over to where we were set up what he said next was jaw dropping: He asked one of the pr staffers to run up to his office and grab the questions we had sent.
Why? Because he had gone through them and made notes on points he wanted to make.
Now, keep in mind that we were turned down by numerous coaches who simply said they were too busy to help – they didn't even have 10 minutes to spare anytime during the six-month window we gave them.
Yet, here was Coach Harbaugh committed to giving us not only his time but his very best. He truly wanted to help volunteer coaches make a difference with their young players.
And it showed.
Question after question that we tossed his way he responded with insight and passion. He never glanced at his watch, looked at the media relations director to bail him out or cut an answer short.
The more questions we asked the more great information flowed. And you know what – he answered them all for us.
And this was with an NFL Network reporter waiting to interview him, a photographer needing him for a staff photo and an Associated Press reporter all hovering over us waiting their turn.
Coaching youth sports isn't easy, that's why we rely on the very best coaches to share their knowledge to help volunteers have truly positive influences on their young athletes.
The NYSCA training program is top-quality in part because of people like him who really want to make a difference – and we are thankful for their help.
So regardless if you cheer for the Ravens or not, it's inspiring to see Coach Harbaugh's passion for kids, coaching and genuinely caring that it is done the right way.