My Mentoring Experience
By Jeff Mulvey
Assistant Football Coach
McNicholas High School, Cincinnati, OH
This was the first year that I have been a part of a SportsLeader staff that looked at mentoring our athletes as one of the day-to-day responsibilities of the coaching staff. I think that it is something that all of us do or would have done because the development of the whole person is what all of us want for our student-athletes.
That being said, having it be an active part of the program enabled me to plan for it, just like the drills we were doing in practice. Otherwise, those moments of sharing off the field would only occur when I was open to it or when a player came to me.
Knowing that I would be talking one-on-one with one of my guys every day kept me open to their needs and helped me to see each of my group as an individual by allowing me to see that each player’s needs were different. Mentoring helped me to develop relationships that went beyond position groups or levels of the team, relationships that have continued to be fruitful well into the off-season.
In my opinion, the greatest part of the SportsLeader program was the opportunity to talk with players about how I have made mistakes in the past. It can be easy sometimes for adults, using the perfect lens of hindsight, to offer advice to young people that is designed to help them make good decisions and relationships, but fails to incorporate the individuality and experiences of the player.
The discussion format of our talks (as opposed to lecturing them on what I think is best) allowed me to share myself with them as the players were sharing themselves with me. By being able to show them how I have failed in the past, I believe I have helped my guys understand something very important.
Our players do not expect us to be perfect, they need us to be human; we need to discuss our failures and frustrations because it is only through knowing that role models fall that we can see how they rise to meet the next challenge with renewed hope and restored faith. When we raise young people who are not afraid to fail and who learn to handle setbacks with grace, we give them the power to dream, to dare, and to do.
Another great aspect of our mentoring program was that the players consistently impressed me with their insight, their compassion, and their understanding of their contributions.
I have always felt that my life is an open book from which I want my students and players to learn and grow. I am proud to share my life and my ideas with them. The one-on-one mentoring program provides me a great opportunity to help my players develop ideas and ideals, as well as giving them a forum from which they can see that their own ideas are valid and relative to their lives.