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Coaching is a lifestyle, people are depending on you

This country is blessed with superior leaders in every walk of life, at every level. Some of the very first leaders kids get to know are their athletic coaches. Quite often, these coaches, men and women, can be overpowering and frightful. One writer has described their language as "coachspeak," which he defines as "that terse, angry, impatient, defensive, and contemptuous interactional style (where) belligerence is a key feature ... and is often accompanied by smirks, (and) intimidating glares." We are at the height of the college basketball season, approaching the "Final Four." And the pros are getting ready for their playoffs. We have been collecting images of coaches, mostly basketball. The criteria was that their facial expression or body language had to reflect animated turmoil and trauma. We then sought out each coach on the internet and dug out some things they have said publicly. You quickly see that these men and women are among our very best leaders, from whom each of us can learn a great deal. The anguish in their faces and body language is funny, their words reflect wisdom. We're lucky to have these people.

March 31, 2005


On occasion, we will see a few photos on a given day that strike us as neat. So, we'll start collecting similar ones over time to see if we can assemble something that will interest you. We are coming to the end of the college basketball season and the pros will play for another month or so. We have been collecting photos of the coaches, so long as they are making a "Waco-Whacko face."

As part of our effort, we ran across a web site called The Becker Sports Report. This is a site of "satirical sports journalism," prepared by a fellow named Steve Becker. While Becker's report is satire, some things he said about coaches struck us as a great way to introduce our little photo album. For those of us who have played for coaches, his words ring very true.

Some appropriate excerpts from Steve Becker's satire, "'Coachspeak' may be genetic, scientists say," follow:

"Funded by Harvard University, the study's authors sought a better understanding of the austere, hostile, often primitive communication style of head sports coaches. They defined 'coach speak' as that 'terse, angry, impatient, defensive, and contemptuous interactional style...

"The study reveals, 'these men appear to have statistically elevate testosterone levels and very low levels of a substance called 'humor.'

"Belligerence is a key feature of 'coachspeak,' and is often accompanied by smirks, intimidating glares...the study's lead author (says),' something screams genetic! You begin to feel that theirs is a language inadequately explained as a product of the sports culture in which they've been immersed...rather, you sense in their language the special, distinct features that bring to mind true and serious expressive communication disorders, like autism, or Asperger's Syndrome.'"

With that, here is a photo album of some coaches in action. The intro remark for each photo, in bold, is ours, not the coach's. The coaches words are in the right hand column. Enjoy.


Don Nelson, coach of the Dallas Mavericks NBA team, is an absolute classic. We had multiple photos of him from which to select. Here he's being thrown out of the game by official Dan Crawford after being called for two technical fouls during the second half against the Sacramento Kings in Dallas, Texas, February 24, 2005. Photo credit: Jeff Mitchell, Reuters


As one might expect, Coach Nelson has something to say about that as well, with sufficient gusto that Mavericks guard Darrell Armstrong steps in between his coach and the official to make sure the gloves don't come off. Photo credit: Donna McWilliam, AP.


Who do you put first, Nelson or Bobby Knight? A real toss up. Ya gotta love 'em both. Here Texas Tech Coach Knight is reacting to a foul call against his team on March 12, 2004, during the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament in Dallas. Photo credit: Tim Sharp, AP


What is it you don't understand about this game? Texas Tech coach Bobby Knight talks with guard Jarrius Jackson during the first half of their NCAA regional semifinal game against West Virginia on March 24, 2005, in Albuquerque, N.M. Photo credit: Jake Schoellkopf, AP


Our feeling is that if the North Carolina player is not listening to coach Sylvia Hatchell's instructions here, she is dead meat. This game was against Arizona State on March 26, 2005, in Tempe, Ariz., during an NCAA regional semifinal. Photo credit: Matt York, AP


The tie is already loose, and it almost looks like coach is fixing to roll up his suit sleeves. Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan reacts with complete disbelief to a foul called on Mike Wilkinson, midway through the second half against Indiana on March 1, 2005, in Madison, Wis. Photo credit: Jaron Berman, AP


Here, Ryan's assistant coach, Gary Close, can't stand the pain of the foul call during the first half against North Carolina during the NCAA East Regional final March 27, 2005, at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y. While Close writhes in excruciating pain, Coach Ryan makes sure he points out for the record the official who has made such a "grievous error" in judgement. Photo credit: Mark Duncan, AP


Is there any doubt in your young military mind that this coach means business? Once again, we find a coach, in this case Kentucky head coach Tubby Smith, issuing orders to his team that had better be followed, or the wrath of the heavens will fall down on this game in Austin, Texas on March 25. Photo credit: Marc Serota, Reuters


North Carolina head coach Roy Williams impersonating a wrestler just before the attack, reacting to a call during the second half of the NCAA Division 1 men's basketball East Regional semifinal game against Villanova in Syracuse, New York, March 25, 2005. Photo credit: Ray Stubblebine, Reuters


Hockey, a little change of pace. The photographer who took this pic said New Hampshire head coach Dick Umile is talking to his team in the final minutes of the game against Denver in the NCAA Northeast regional final, March 27, 2005, in Amherst, Mass. Our reading of this photo is that Umile is stunned by what he has just seen, or is holding his breath waiting for someone to put a paper bag over his mouth before he drops. Photo credit: Michael Dwyer, AP


The photographer here too says Arizona State head coach Charli Turner Thorne is yelling instructions to her players during the second half of their game against North Carolina during the NCAA Regional semi-final game in Tempe, Ariz., March 26, 2005. At the very least that is a bark, not a yell, and at the most, she is yelling for a medic to come and restart her heart. Photo credit: Charles Rex Arbogast, AP


What we have here is known as "character building." Washington State's coach Dick Bennett is "talking" to his player Derrick Low in the second half, Feb. 24, 2005, at Beasley Coliseum in Pullman, Wash. This would be an example of what Steve Becker was talking about, "hostile, often primitive communication style...angry, impatient, defensive, and contemptuous interactional style...Belligerence is a key feature of 'coachspeak,' and is often accompanied by smirks, intimidating glares." Right on. Of course, Low is responding, I didn't do that, coach, which just makes the coach more hostile. Photo credit: Joe Barrentine, AP


Well, you sure hate to argue with success. But in this photo, Tennessee's head coach Pat Summitt is calling the play against Texas Tech on March 27 with her arms outstretched, her fingers sending the code, and her eyes are either shut scared to death of what the team is going to do in response, or she is using a revival meeting technique to talk straight to the Man about this next play. Photo credit: Rusy Kennedy, AP


Rutger's head coach Vivian Stringer too seems to be calling out to the Lord for help in the final seconds of the game against Ohio State on March 27. It's either that, or she is trying to stop the game. Probably not, as Rutgers won this one. Photo credit: Bradley Bower, Reuters


This is the "You gotta be kidding me" look from Denver Nuggets coach George Karl, front left. While Coach Karl is gripped in pain, assistant coach Doug Moe, rear left, argues the call with referee Leroy Richardson in the third quarter of the Nuggets' game with the Milwaukee Bucks in Denver, March 20, 2005. And for some silly reason, the official seems to be trying to explain, wasting oxygen. Photo credit: David Zalubowski, AP


Wha'd'ya mean I'm outta here you numbskull? Toronto Raptors coach Sam Mitchell yells at the referee after being ejected during the fourth quarter against the Miami Heat on March 29, 2005, in Miami. Photo credit: Steve Mitchell, AP


I'm a gonna strangle somebody. Duke coach Gail Goestenkors shows her frustration as LSU defeats Duke, 59-49, at the NCAA women's regional tournament March 28, 2005 in Chattanooga, Tenn. Photo credit: Donna McWilliam, AP


This is the look of, "It's over, oh man, it's over." Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma watches the final moments of his team's loss to Stanford during the NCAA Kansas City Regional at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo., March 27, 2005. Photo credit: Ed Zurga, AP


Pokey don't look pokey, she looks like she's gonna dive out there and play. LSU coach Pokey Chatman screams as she paces the sideline in the second half against Duke at the NCAA women's regional tournament March 28, 2005 in Chattanooga, Tenn. Photo credit: Mary Ann Chastain, AP


What in the world is it you don't understand about this game and my instructions? Michigan State University head coach Joanne McCallie screams to her team during a rally by Stanford University during the NCAA Women's Regional Basketball Tournament at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri, March 29, 2005. Photo credit: Dave Kaup, Reuters


Can you guys hear me? Are you people listening? University of Louisville head coach Rick Pitino yells instructions during the first half of play against the University of West Virginia in the NCAA Albuquerque Regional Division 1 men's basketball championship final in Albuquerque, New Mexico, March 26, 2005. Photo credit: John Sommers II, Reuters


And never forget Mr. K! Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewski directs his team's play against Michigan State University in the Austin Regional Semifinals of the 2005 NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament in Austin, Texas March 25, 2005. Photo credit: Marc Serota, Reuters


Tell 'em Coach K. You da man! Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski yells to his team in the first half against Michigan State during the NCAA Austin Region semifinal game at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas, March 25, 2005. Photo credit: David J. Phillip, AP


It's okay, coach. It's just a game! At the end of the day, for the good coaches, endearing love. Michigan State's Alan Anderson (15) grabs coach Tom Izzo by the head at the end of the NCAA Austin Region final at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas Sunday, March 27, 2005. Photo credit: David J. Phillip, AP