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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

MAINTAINING AND GROWING EXCELLENCE

As our Aggie team heads into the off-season, we do so coming off a strong two year run.  Last year, our first in the Southeastern Conference we were able to capture the SEC Tournament Championship.  Despite losing three starters and fielding a young team, we were able to overcome a sluggish start to tie for second place in the SEC and advance to the Elite 8 of the NCAA tournament.  In fact, Coach Gary Blair has create a program that is mentioned among the nation's elite.  In the last five years there are conference championships, league tournament titles, Sweet 16's, Elite 8's and a National Championship.

The best programs, the best staffs, that I've been involved with don't sit back and enjoy their past successes...they go to work to build on them.  Being an Elite Program requires an Elite Effort from all involved and that effort must be continual.  Less than 24 hours following our loss to a great UConn team, we have had a staff meeting to outline what must be done in the short term with our players.  We've already worked out some of those players. Today Coach Blair and Assistant Kelly Bond-White are on a recruiting trip.  Next week, upon our return from the WBCA Convention, we will have two staff meetings.  One with our coaching staff, that will stretch our vision long-term to include the summer, the fall and beyond.  We will follow that with another staff meeting that will include key members of our administration to talk about the continual growth in all areas of our program.  I am proud to say this meeting was called by our administration.  As a coach, it always makes a difference when your administration wants to roll their sleeves up and help you accomplish your goals.

Regardless of what level you coach on, the off-season (I hate that term) is incredibly important.  More growth is done during these months than most can imagine if your create goals and execute a well-thought out plan.  And I'm not just talking about skill development.  What are you doing to help your student-athletes grow academically and personally?  What is your off-season plan for team building?  What as a coach are you doing to grow -- to learn the game -- to become a better teacher?

It is constant. 

Tradition never graduates...Success never sleeps...Elite Cultures are never an accident

The following is an article on Nick Saban that we gave our team during the SEC regular season, to try and keep them focused on what's important -- the next game.  As Sue Gunter would always tell our teams, "The next game is the most important game on our schedule because it's the only game we can do anything about."  We you can translate that into days.  Today is the most important day we have because it's the only day we can do anything about.  Our goal as coaches is how do we best make each day count.

This article was written by Victoria Sheehan for isportsweb.com.  It's very well written and your can read it in it's entirety here.

Why do the mighty fall?" Saban asked the plant workers.

If you just got a chill that means you realize we are upon a new season and winning is never permanent or ensured.

Here is what the leader of the most successful college football program in modern times told people who make their living manufacturing automobiles. But if any Bama fan wanted to hear snippets of what its like in the Alabama locker room, all they had to do was listen. Especially now, as once again, Saban must focus a team that has just won 3 out of 4 national championships and tell them they’re not winning it again unless they forget that historic fact.

“Everybody says its tough to win the first championship, but it’s much tougher to win the second.”

Or in this case, the fourth.

It’s easy for young minds to run wild with the thought of possibility. Especially when the jersey they wear has been synonymous with winning for half a decade. But part of the reason Saban wins, is he knows he not only has to wrangle in the minds of football players ages 17-23, but he also must maintain the expectations of a Crimson Tide nation of all ages.

“People get satisfied, and as human beings we don’t always have our best days after our best days. We have our best days after our bad days.”


“When bad things happen, like the tornado we had here a couple yeas ago- the community came together like you couldn’t believe. People helped each other, served each other, had compassion… but sometimes when things are going well, people get more
jealous and more selfish and want more, ‘what about me?’, don’t help others, don’t serve others, don’t provide good leadership, and then things don’t work out too well.”
Not only is the target on Alabama’s back growing bigger in the mind’s of opponents in the SEC and beyond, the mental toughness within the Alabama team gets harder and harder with each win.


“I think Michael Jordan says it best,
‘No matter how many game winning shots I make, the only one that matters is the next one.’ So that’s the challenge we all have. No matter how many games we’ve won in the past- 61 in the last five years, which is an NCAA record,” Saban adds and pauses to the applause of the crowd. But he puts his hands up to stop them.

“The only one that matters is the next one.” 


So how do you continue to win? For Nick Saban, it is literally ‘simple’.

“Have a good game plan, have
good preparation, be able to adjust to what happens- all that stuff is important. But it’s really a fool-proof system.”

Okay, Nick Saban. Then why hasn’t everyone figured out how to win 3 National Championships in 4 years?

“It comes from number one, being a team,” he said. “Because together everybody will always accomplish more
… Because of the individual’s strength of personality, their intensity, their sense of urgency, their discipline to execute and do their job at a high standard. Everybody’s got to buy-in to the principles and values of the organization and the standard that you want it done to.”

“Cause you know what happens?” He asks the crowd but barely waits for the rhetorical question to set in.

“You can’t have teamwork if you don’t have that. Because mediocre people don’t like high achievers and high achievers don’t like mediocre people so if you let those two things co-exist on your team it’s never going to work out right. You’re never going to have team chemistry. Everyone’s got to be responsible for their own self-determination and be accountable to do their job. And that’s how everybody can trust and respect each other and that’s how you have success.”

Oh, well. If it’s 
that 
simple.

“Discipline isn’t something you have or don’t have.”

Saban’s voice echoed across the large hall as people listened intently.

“Discipline is something you choose. You choose it. It’s not God given, you do the right thing, the right way, the right time all the time- that’s a choice. It’s a choice for all of us.”

 

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