Athletic Directors reflect on their work for Coaches Day

For National Coaches Day on Wednesday, Garfield Re-2 celebrated all of its wonderful coaches across the district. We sat down with Rob Dean, Rifle Middle School Athletic Director, and Jeff Bradley, Riverside Middle School Athletic Director, to discuss what role a coach plays in the lives of students socially, academically and beyond. In separate interviews, these leaders share their thoughts on what their positions mean to them.

What impact can coaches have on a student’s life?

R.D.: Well, I think as far as a student is concerned, it's probably the biggest impact that it can have on somebody. Teachers definitely have impact on kids' lives, but it's an academic setting so that’s the sole focus. On the other hand, most coaches do more than just coach the sport. Whether it's during practice or especially during games, when you go somewhere, you learn so much about life as well. That does happen in the classroom, but it’s more broad at the coaching level and it takes up more aspects. Nine times out of 10, when you talk with a former student who's been an athlete, they’ll say it was a coach who had the biggest impact on their life. Other examples are those in charge of various extracurriluclar activities such as the band director or the choir director. They have more influence on a kid usually than what happens in the classroom.

J.B.: The reason I got into education was because my high school basketball coach talked me into it. I coached a lot of years and that was big for me. I think the coach's impact is both social and academic, and even probably more than just those two. They get a chance to build a relationship that is different than what teachers get to. They get to see them outside of the classroom. They get a chance to instill work ethic in kids that would rather be playing sports than sitting in class. That relationship, I think, is stronger for coaches and more impactful. It's a rollercoaster for some of our kids that when they're in season, their behavior improves and their grades usually are where they need to be. I mean, they're just sometime getting by, but they're eligible to play. As soon as that season's over, everything kind of dips until the next season they decide to play.

What impact can coaches (and sports in general) have on the community?

R.D.: There are some kids who, without sports, would drop out of school. You see that more at the high school level. But for a lot of kids, this is what keeps them coming back. They'll do their academics, but it’s what their involved in after school that really grabs them. And that's what I think drives me is just to find those kids who really love sports, love band, love choir, love art and love other extracurricular. I’ve just seen it in my career that for some kids, this is what connects them to the school.

J.B.: I've been a high school Athletic Director and I know Rob has been as well. I've been a part of three state championships in my career and it’s the athletics that the community remembers. We'll talk about these wins forever. Football is huge in the community whether your team is doing good or not. Sports are what kind of brings the community together. Cause that's the one common goal that they have is to be successful. I think sports can be a bond that allows everyone to drop their agendas sometimes. People come together in support of their community at most home games. After the game is over, we kind of go our own ways, but we’re all on the same teams for Friday nights football.

What fulfills you about your position as an athletic director?

R.D.: My favorite part is seeing the kids compete and succeed. To see the kids all excited about coming in to play three games in one day and really enjoying that. Sometimes they don't win and that's okay because that's life, but they always put forth their best effort. I think that's what our coaches really strive to do is push kids to do their best. What I tell my coaches is I want to always be competitive. We don't always have to win but we have to be competitive. That's going well here at Rifle Middle School.

J.B.: As a leader, I’ve always led from behind. My job is to support our coaches and students as best I can without being the face of things. Our coaches and our kids are the ones that are put on public display. I take pride in being that support from behind the scenes and doing everything I can to help our teams be successful. I'm not the guy who is looking for a pat on the back. It's the coaches and the players that get the job done. If we need to deal with something, then we deal with it. If things go well, then everyone gets a pat on the back and we try our best do it again.
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