Thursday, August 11, 2011

InSideOut Coaching: Changing Masculinity on the Ballfield

By Patrick McGann
Director of Strategy & Planning

Let me be upfront: I love Joe Ehrmann. Yes, I’m using the “L” word.

“Respect” doesn’t go far enough. “Admire” won’t cut it. “Appreciate” is way too weak. “Like” seems tepid.

It’s got to be “love.”

I was going to wrap up the “How I Came to Work for Men Can Stop Rape” series, but then Joe sidetracked me. We hosted a book event at a DC Barnes and Noble this past Tuesday night featuring InSideOut Coaching: How Sports Can Transform Lives, Joe’s new book just released on August 2nd. He described the book’s contents and then took questions.

There’s so much to write about in InSideOut Coaching that I’m not sure where to start. How about transactional and transformational coaching? Transactional coaches use players to meet their own “personal needs for validation, status, and identity” (p. 5). They’re all about doing whatever it takes to win. Transformational coaches, on the other hand, “are other-centered.” They “use their power and platform to nurture and transform players” (p.6). They affirm rather than tear down. I mostly experienced transactional coaches. I'm thinking especially of the one that put us through a "gut check" my sophomore year on the high school basketball team.

To become a transformational coach requires the creation of a coherent narrative, an investigation of your own experiences of being coached – hence, the InSideOut in the title. You begin this InSideOut journey by asking these questions:

Why do I coach?
Why do I coach the way I do?
What does it feel to be coached by me?
How do I define success? (p. 109)

Joe’s answer to why he coaches: “I coach to help boys become men of empathy and integrity who will lead, be responsible, and change the world for good” (p. 110). He asserts that the messages young men receive about masculinity prevent boys from becoming men of empathy and integrity. And that’s why Men Can Stop Rape partners with Joe and Coach for America.

Joe steps outside the box and identifies Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz as a transformational coach. Given my love relationship with The Wizard of Oz (I wrote a MCSR newsletter piece years ago about the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion as examples of counter stories of masculinity), I got all excited when this former Syracuse University All-American and NFL Baltimore Colts star suggested this girl in ruby red slippers was one of his coaching heroes.

Let me end by extending Joe’s ideas for coaches by claiming that every single one of us at one time or another is a coach. You. Me. Your family. Friends. Colleagues. Cohorts. Companions. You name it. We all mentor others at some point. So we all need to ask ourselves:

Why do I coach?
Why do I coach the way I do?
What does it feel to be coached by me?
How do I define success?

Next: Reflections on How I Came to Work at Men Can Stop Rape


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Patrick McGann, Ph.D. has been involved with Men Can Stop Rape (MCSR) since the organization’s inception in 1997. As Director of Strategy and Planning, Patrick co-authored a sexual assault prevention strategy for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) in 2008 and oversaw the development of the HURTS ONE. AFFECTS ALL. public education campaign for DoD in 2010. He regularly gives presentations across the country on engaging men in the prevention of gender-based violence. Share

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