Track Coach

TC247 Editorial Column

From the Editor – RUSS EBBETS

10 Simple Things

Years ago, singers Simon and Garfunkel sang a song, the Sound of Silence, that had a line “the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls.” It has always been an intriguing idea to me, and I’ll admit I have often looked at any subway scribblings to see if, in fact, there is some worthwhile tidbit or snippet of advice to give me a head start at salvation.

About a decade ago a CNY coach, Jim Vermeulen, shared with me a list of “10 Simple Things that Require Zero Talent.” It is a cleverly assembled list of short, common sense points that anyone from a 14-year old to a worker bee can adopt with great success. I am not sure where the list originated, I have seen renditions on-line but no subway renditions. Most of that graffiti still lacks any reportable depth.

10 Simple Things That Require Zero Talent

  • Being on Time
  • Work Ethic
  • Effort
  • Body Language
  • Energy
  • Attitude
  • Passion
  • Being Coachable
  • Doing Extra
  • Being Prepared

Every team has its superstars or at least their “best kid.” This man or woman is usually a great help to a coach. They can serve in a variety of ways. Certainly, they can be role models who exhibit levels of dedication, perseverance and personal discipline that become an example for the rest of the team.

Captain duties often fall on the shoulders of these individuals. It is a lifetime distinction most approach with seriousness. This leadership may be due to their talent, academic success or personal charisma. Sometimes the coach hits the trifecta, with an individual who possesses all three qualities.

And we can’t forget the mentoring these young leaders provide. Simple words of encouragement can provide enough of an emotional boost to sometimes save a career for the team newbie. The doubts, fears and wavering concerns along with the yet to be developed “juggling ability” of the newbie are so weak that the disappointment of a bad day or two can be such that calling it a career can appear as the most viable option.

But every coach knows that a team is not made up of all superstars. It is the second or third echelon of talent that not only fills out the team pictures but also adds emotional depth and spirit to the team. These teammates may harbor dreams and aspirations that exceed their abilities but their dedication and diligence can represent a standard of effort and behavior that can also be a personal example to any and all.

If one were to take a moment and study the 10 Simple Things one of the common denominators is that they are simple to understand, easy to implement and free. Sometimes that becomes the obstacle. I think from time to time we all try to make things harder than they need to be.

If you allow yourself a moment to let your mind wander—what would practices be like if, en masse, the team adopted these principles? There would be smiling faces, an “I can do this” attitude, excitement for the day, fearless preparation for coming competitions and a forever readiness that would build and build and build. These are traits that would benefit the team from top to bottom. Even the coaching staff could pump up their level of enthusiasm with attention to these details.

It’s an age-old question every coach mulls over from time to time – what makes one person succeed, sometimes against all odds, while other times a more gifted individual never seems to realize his or her potential?

One thing that all successful people share is attitude, the belief that the glass is half full and that things can, at the very least get better. What would your day be like if you, the coach, the assistants, captains and your second and third echelon athletes all showed up to practice and were on the same page as far as the 10 points go? I have a feeling you’d breeze through the day, with smiles, laughter and accomplishment. Not a bad way to live.

Ten simple things. Moses had quite a bit of success with a similar idea.

Maybe Coach Vermeulen was an “early adapter” and he is onto something profound here. It has all the makings of classic thought – simple to understand, easy to apply and free. The free part may be a stumbling block. If there was some way to monetize this concept—­then maybe it could catch fire. In any event, time will tell, or at least TikTok will.

One not so simple thing is the decathlon. We are fortunate this issue to have an interview with Frank Zarnowski who has spent a lifetime coaching, announcing and reporting on the CEs (combined events). His dedicated involvement has allowed him to develop a unique perspective that offers insights and honors the world’s greatest athletes.