I have often wrote about by admiration of Don Yaeger. As a journalist, he really gets it. In a world filled with so much negativity that is hammered home through the media, Don is constantly looking for that which is good and sharing it with us in such a way that we can not only be inspired by it, but learn from it as well. Such is true with one of his most recent blog posts on Tom Izzo and how he uses a players circle of influence to help them grow and move forward towards the goals.
Here is an excerpt from that article (you can read the entire post here -- in fact, you can check out his outstanding website here):
“A player-coached team is better than a coach-coached team,” said Izzo as he grinned knowing, by the look on my face, that he’d get the chance to explain further. He did just that.
I was impressed by how Izzo established a connection with certain star players to the point where they reinforced his message early and often with each new season. Players like Magic, Steve Smith, Shawn Respert, and Mateen Cleaves would still return to campus, seeking out current players to offer advice and place expectations nurtured by the MSU basketball culture.
But that accountability model wasn’t just relegated to the players and former players. Izzo’s culture placed that responsibility on the parents of the players as well. He understood that external forces could be counterproductive to laying a solid foundation. In an effort to get a total buy-in from his team, he focused some of his energy on the mothers, fathers,and legal guardians.
Izzo would hold a non-player meeting with his team’s family members and get them to commit to helping their athlete achieve success on the court and in the classroom. They would commit to supporting Izzo’s coaching methods and discipline even if it meant their son would be directly impacted. That reinforcement on the court and at home created a culture where all parties clearly understand the values of the program, and the consequences and rewards of certain actions within the culture.