What is the legacy of a great coach? When the players of the Great Falls Central Mustangs arrived for the first day of practice in the fall of 1962, they had their sights set on the unlikely goal of the state championship. But what their coaches delivered was far more lasting than a championship ring.
Coached for Life, by Ed Flaherty and Jack Uldrich, is the true account of how two high school football coaches, Bill Mehrens and John McMahon, molded an undistinguished group of young men into state champions. The book includes a dramatic 40 year retrospect from the players themselves (including Flaherty, a former team captain) describing how the principles instilled in them during the 1962 season continued to shape their lives in positive ways long after they left the football field.
Coached for Life author Ed Flaherty shares about what makes a great teacher:
Q: What separates the good coaches and teachers from the great ones?
A: Being a great coach is not merely about understanding the fundamentals of the game or possessing the will to win. The achievements on the field of play and even the ability to coach aren’t what ultimately determine a coach’s success. It is their ability to love. Simply put, the best coaches and teachers love their students. That love—not the quest for a winning record—is the motivating factor behind every lesson in discipline, responsibility, perseverance, accuracy, and community. This is a heritage that has been handed down through generations of coaches and players. Coach Mehrens and Coach McMahon passed these lessons to every player they ever coached—including the 37 members of the 1962 Great Falls Central Mustangs. True to their heritage, the 1962 Mustangs have kept up the tradition, whether as fathers, coaches, teachers, military officers, or business leaders.
Q: Though the word “coach” is usually associated with athletics, the principles your coaches taught you, and that you have shared in the book, are much bigger than a football game. In your mind, who else fulfills the role of a coach?
A: The role of a coach is to shape character, to help people realize every bit of their potential. There are so many relationships that involve an aspect of coaching. If you are in a leadership position, you are—or rather, you should be—a coach. Parents, teachers, business owners, managers, supervisors, ministers, and counselors are all coaches.
Q: How have the lessons from your coaches most shaped your life and career?
A: Of all the lessons Coach Mehrens and Coach McMahon taught me, the one that has borne the most obvious fruit is the idea of setting goals and making a plan to meet them. As an entrepreneur, I have started or purchased three-dozen companies in my career. The combined annual sales from those companies approach one billion dollars. Each of these successes is the result of incremental goals I have set for myself—the first two being to work for myself and care for my family, then to make enough money to give back to my church and community. This lesson is one that I have passed on to countless employees, and it has also enabled some meaningful charity work. My coaches demonstrated that my life could make a difference in the lives of others.
What others are saying about Coached for Life
“Coached for Life captures the essence of what it means to be a coach. It describes the philosophies that work in the arena of sport, and the philosophies that work in life. I recommend it to everyone who wants to succeed in either—or both.”
- Bobby Bowden, Head football coach, Florida State University, National Champions 1993 & 1999
“Coached for Life tells us that coaches are, first and foremost, teachers, and that lessons on how to live are learned on the athletic field as well as in the classroom. This is not a tale of gridiron glory or one of glamorous careers. It is instead a blend of stories capturing ‘the greatness that is realized when ordinary people do ordinary things extraordinarily well.’ It also serves to remind us why ‘Coach’ is a lifetime honorific.”
- Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., President Emeritus, University of Notre Dame
“As a business owner and State Senate Leader, I have been a big supporter of education. Coached for Life gives wonderful accolades to the great work our teachers and coaches do in America every day.”
- Glen Taylor, Entrepreneur and owner, Minnesota Timberwolves, NBA Team
Coached for Life by Ed Flaherty and Jack Uldrich
Bronze Bow Publishing/March 2010
ISBN: 978-0-615-27882-7/383 pages/softcover/$19.95
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