Arguably the greatest coach in the history of collegiate track or any sport retires at the end of this year. While this is a momentous occasion, a lesser known coach from my prior coaching job, is going to retire at the end of this season as well. A man I will always respect and also miss often.
Joey Haines has served the school of Southeast Missouri State University for about 3 decades and has brought the program from NAIA to DII and now to its currrent status of DI. He has seen many changes in the sport of track and field and could tell you first hand stories about the likes of Brian Oldfield and many other famous stars. While time past and things changed, he remained a staple at Southeast.
I appreciate the opportunity he gave me as a young coach to be a part of his legacy. There were many things I learned from him which I still try to utilize this day:
- Take care of your current athletes both physically and emotionally. Train their bodies but ultimately, make them better people.
- Make the athletes earn their rewards, like traveling to big meets. If the athlete truly wants to succeed, the set back will only make them hungry.
- If you have assistant coaches, let them coach and let them make mistakes (which they will). Also, be there for them when they want advice.
- A team is a family and while not every in a family will get along, you work towards harmony.
- Don’t give credit where it isn’t due. A big foul or a narrow miss is not a great achievement. Times, heights and distances don’t lie. In the end the athlete will be better for it and once a great achievement happens, then you can celebrate.
If I had to list the people who influenced my life other than my parents, Coach Haines would certainly make the list. I appreciated my time just across the Mississippi River and I can only hope they hire the right man to follow in his footsteps.
Greatness can be measured in championships and all-americans, but I believe it can also be measured in opportunities. Coach Haines took many young adults who would have never had the chance at a college education and gave them that opportunity. They came out better people on the other side. If that isn’t greatness, I don’t know what is.