A Coach Who Gets it Right

WilkIn the media we more often hear horror stories than positive stories regarding coaches. Fortunately many coaches do get it right and positively affect the lives of countless others.

A wonderful example of just such a coach is Steve “Wilk” Wilkinson, Ph.D., former Head Men’s Tennis Coach of Gustavus Adolphus College. Wilk just retired after 39 years of coaching at Gustavus and is the winningest men’s collegiate tennis coach at any level. His teams competed in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) and achieved a record of 334-1 (.997) in his tenure (you can read more about Wilk’s many accomplishments here, here, and here.)

While his record is impressive, it is his legacy of using tennis as a vehicle to holistically develop young people that is to be most admired. Wilk is a true exemplar whose definition of success has nothing to do with winning. To hear him explain his “Three Crowns” philosophy of positive attitude, full effort, and sportsmanship, listen to these short videos (here and here)-it is well worth your time.

His philosophy is a real life example of how a primary focus on things that can be controlled—rather than on winning—can lead to simultaneous positive development and positive experiences and increase the likelihood of optimal performance. If only there were more Wilks in the world of sport and the world in general, it would surely be a better place for everyone.

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