Chris Bridges Mug

Chris Bridges

It’s not easy being in charge. That goes for a job inside the sports world (such as a coach or athletic director) or someone who makes a living in the business world.

However, it typically does not take long for workers or part of a team to summize whether their boss or supervisor has what it takes to excel in that role.

Some judge good leaders by how much money they make the company. Some believe (and I know as I have experienced this first hand) that being a jerk (a harsher adjective comes to mind but you probably get the idea) is the key to being a good supervisor or leader.

When it comes to athletics, a head coach has a tough job from the start. Not only does he or she have to lead a group of young athletes but they also have to oversee a coaching staff.

This is especially true in football when as even modest size high school programs have several assistant coaches in addition to the head coach. Most programs in fact wish the group of coaches was larger in number.

Through more than three decades covering high school football, I have been around all types of coaches. Some value their assistants as much as their own family. On the other hand, some go through assistants like some coaches go through a can smokeless tobacco.

During my days as the full-time sports editor of The Walton Tribune, I was blessed to have the good fortune of working with Tommy Stringer, the Hall of Fame coach who guided the Loganville High School football program for numerous seasons.

Stringer had already been at LHS for several years when I arrived on the scene. No doubt he had seen about all there was to see in the coaching profession.

The thing about him was he had no sense of ego. He praised his coaching staff as much as any coach I have ever been associated with. He brought several of his assistants with him to LHS. Years later they were all still there. To me that said volumes about Stringer.

There have been others as well.

In the early days of my professional career, I had the chance to observe one of the best high school football coaches in action up close. Charles Winslette, who was coaching Greene-Taliaferro High School at the time, was one who certainly valued his assistant coaches.

Winslette has coached at several schools during his long and successful career but never forget about those who helped make him successful. Whenever Winslette would move to a new school, one of the top requirements was he be able to bring his assistant coaches with him.

In fact, Winslette and his core group of assistants worked at several schools from northeast Georgia to well below the Gnat Line. Each time Winslette was hired you knew his assistants were going with him.

You see it in the college ranks as well. Long time college head coach Dennis Franchione led programs in several states and on more than one occasion would take his entire coaching staff with him when a new job called.

It all boils down to good leaders recognizing those who helped them be presented with new opportunities. It goes beyond the coaching profession of course.

Always beware of the boss or supervisor or coach who has high turnover rate. And beware even more of the ones who don’t care they have high turnover or why they do.

One of the things I took pride in when I was editor of a newspaper was very low staff turnover, which is rare in the print business. I know one co-worker told me they stayed longer than they would have under other circumstances because of me. No supervisor can ever be paid a higher compliment.

It really just comes down to treating people with proper respect. It seems like a no-brainer but it’s not as common as you might think. It’s true in sports and in life.


Chris Bridges is a columnist and former sports editor for The Walton Tribune.

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