Forging relationships is the key to motivating both students and athletes

The classroom and the playing field are more similar than one might think

For Social Studies teacher Michael Curry, coaching and teaching comes down to the same basic idea: building relationships. According to Curry, these relationships build trust between coaches and athletes and teachers and students.  

Antonio Bluiett ’22 has had Curry both as a coach and as a teacher.

I think, especially with Curry and a couple of other coaches I’ve had before, that knowing them more on a personal level has made it easier for me to take what they told me to do,” said Bluiett. “Whether it’s on the court or the field, [I] go do it because I trust them and I think that they have my best interests [in mind], so I would say just knowing them personally has helped me in sports.”

Coaches play a big part in sports. They put in lots of work outside of just practices and games. On top of all that work, they also need to be there for their players and support them both on and off the field. They have to find out what motivates and helps each player to make sure they are playing their best and staying on track.

“You do the same thing in class, you try to build relationships with them,” said Curry. “You try to understand who they are and what type of person they are, and after a while, you’re going to get a sense of how hard you can push them. With some kids you could push [them] really hard, and some kids you have to kind of take it easy and almost hold their hand along the way, but they both can still get to the same spot. [They’re] just going to get there a different way. Some kids you can be really stern with, and you can raise your voice with them and try to motivate them and they need that type of motivation. Other kids just need you to put your arm around them and be like, ‘Hey, it’s gonna be okay. I know you can do it.’”

During Curry’s BASE time, his classroom is always full with a mixture of athletes and students. Most of them are there not because they have to be, but because they want to be. Curry says he uses different strategies to motivate both groups.

“I think the teacher me is way more laid back, so in class, I’m pretty laid back. I don’t raise my voice a whole lot, I’m always smiling, [and] I’m always in a good mood, [whereas] the coach me is a little bit more emotional. You’re more emotional when you’re coaching and you have more ups and downs than as you do as a teacher,” said Curry. 

Showing love for their athletes can be really hard for coaches, especially with how emotional practices and games can be. Every player is different. Some need tough love and others need more of a softer tone. 

“Some players thrive off of more of a tough love approach and other players need the patting on the back and ‘it’s going to be okay,’ or a more soft approach,” said Social Studies teacher Craig Lachowitzer.

Physical Education Teacher Austin Youngmark echoed Lachowitzer’s viewpoints and stressed the importance of the results of those positive relationships.

 “For football, I think it’s special because most of [the athletes] are very tough, so tough love is definitely how I coach,” said Youngmark.  “I’m fun and energetic and I like to have fun with them. They know that I joke around with them, but then when I’m serious and I get a different tone in my voice, they know that they need to shape up or whatever the case may be. [It’s a balance between] the tough love, loving them and having those special bonds and moments, and also being a tough guy at times and setting the tone and making sure that they are held accountable for their actions and stuff that they do.”

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