2017-11-23 / Sports

COACHES CORNER: ROGER FRENCH

Coach’s Corner features area coaches from various teams to get their perspective on coaching – the rewards, the challenges, their goals, and the benefits of team sports for student-athletes. This week we feature Roger French, Engadine girls varsity basketball coach.

How many years have you been a coach, and what is your coaching background?

I have coached varsity level basketball for seven years. I have previous experience at the elementary level in a variety of sports. I have a degree in physical education and a minor in psychology. Some classes that really influenced me in college were psychology of coaching and motor development.

What got you into coaching?

With 15 years in with the Michigan Department of Corrections already, I never expected to use my degree nor coach at an upper level. It just was timing and opportunity that the position came open at Engadine High School. Also, some convincing from my wife Sharon to go for it! I never expected to be in control of a basketball program at a school in my forties.

Who are some of your coaching influences?

I have many who have influenced me in my coaching career. Who wouldn’t like to have the winning success and commitment of (St. Ignace coaches) Doreen and Doug Ingalls, the longevity and calmness of Brimley’s Ray Bell, or the consistency of Pickford and Cedarville’s programs to turn out great athletes? All of these have influenced me since I have been at Engadine. The preparation and leadership of Munising’s Matt Mattson, and the character and excitement you see in Mackinaw City’s Adam Stefanski have also influenced me. Although I haven’t seen him for a while, Superior Central’s Greg Trowbridge influenced me in the beginning of my career. There are many greats that I feel I have followed and learned from. Some of the mentors I have used are Elmer Albright, Joel Schultz, and Walter Hanson. Also, I have had some great administration to work for at Engadine.

What is your coaching philosophy/ goals?

I found that having a good written philosophy that parents, student athletes, and administrators can look at would solve most of your problems before they start. It took me a couple years to realize this, another year to finalize expectations, roles, and where we want to go, and yet another year to promote it.

Some basics in my philosophy involve player safety, first and foremost. Remembering it’s a privilege to play. Teamwork: understanding, accepting, fulfilling, and excelling in the role you are given. Comprehend defensive and offensive schemes. Play to win, and have fun.

As for my coaching goals, I have been blessed with achieving most personal short-term goals I have set thus far. I believe the important thing to remember about short or long-term goal setting is to be realistic and make achievable goals whether that is daily, weekly, or for the season, both career and personal.

What are some of the more rewarding aspects of coaching?

Simply put, seeing growth in a student athlete. This might take years or it might take a summer. It doesn’t even have to be one of my players; it can be an opponent’s athlete. I just love to see the commitment to hard work in my sport.

What are some of the more difficult aspects of being a coach?

For me, the most difficult aspect of being a coach is not working at the school. It might be my personal feeling, but I feel I must work harder on communication with my girls and captains since I have that daytime lapse. I just don’t want to miss something. To compensate for this, I put more pressure on my captains and the roles I need them to play for me.

What advice would you give to newer coaches or those wanting to coach?

Educate yourself and never feel satisfied with your current knowledge. Gain as much as you can, and it’s OK to steal nuggets of wisdom from everyone you feel is doing it right. The most important part is that it must fit you and your program. Secondly, develop trust within your program. Without it, you will be short term, and if the administration doesn’t trust you, don’t take the job. Put in the work and know your opponent. Strive to win, but never fear to lose. Also, have fun and enjoy what you do, for whatever reasons that drive you. Never make excuses, and be accountable for every decision you make. Be honest and true to yourself.

What are the benefits of team sports outside of athletic achievements?

I have a few benefits in my program philosophy: Setting and working to achieve realistic goals, a commitment to a team and cooperation, discipline, and accountability. Student athletes will become healthier, more skilled, and more confident and will grow to enjoy playing competitive basketball.

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