“Our organization has partnered with Duke to offer comprehensive, evidence-based assessments and treatment of sports-related concussions,” Phil says. “The objective is to educate the community on concussion prevention and recognition. One huge role we play as coaches is to ensure we are teaching the correct technique and form when it comes to tackling. Implementing the proper steps in tackling has been shown to aide in preventing concussions.”
In fact, Brady notes that all of the coaches in the program have received youth coaching certification through USA Football, an organization that has trained and certified more than 140,000 coaches across the country in areas of player safety and proper technique.
Family and Team
With Phil’s son Brendan on his team, Phil must be both father and coach. Brendan enjoys having his dad as his coach, and his favorite positions to play are running back and quarterback. But Phil has to be mindful of how he approaches coaching his own child.
“It is important to not show any favoritism,” he says. “As a coach, you should treat each child as your own. Parents will respect that, as well. I truly enjoy coaching Brendan, however when it comes to practice, playing time and being disciplined within the team, he does not receive any special treatment.”
Although football often connects fathers and sons, on the field that has to take a backseat to the needs of the team as a whole.
“The true measurement of the success of the team is not how well your child does, but how well everyone does as a team,” Phil says. “It’s rewarding to see the improvement and skillset development in each player from week to week.”
Win, Lose or Learn
It’s easy to find satisfaction in winning, but from his experience coaching both football and basketball, Phil recognizes there are growth opportunities in good times and in bad.
“Our basketball team, the NC Lakers, had just suffered our first loss of the season. At the time we were 5-0,” he recalls. “There were many disappointed faces, tears and lots of finger pointing. Our team was not accustomed to losing.”
But as difficult as that loss was, Phil was able to make it something positive for himself and his team. Furthermore, it gave him perspective he would pass on to all the different teams he coaches.
“I always like to say there are no losses in life, but rather lessons,” he says. “The same thing holds true for sports. You must change your perspective and find the lesson in defeat. The lessons we learned were to always respect your opponent, be prepared to compete and give the game your best effort. If you do those things, you can live with the results. One of my most gratifying moments as a coach was to see that my boys received that message and implemented it. The team rebounded and finished the season as champions.”
To other youth coaches, Phil has some words of advice.
“Patience is key in working with five- to seven-year-olds. A wise man once told me that if the students didn’t learn, then the teacher didn’t teach,” Phil says. “We are not only coaches, but teachers. Coaches must be mindful that, in many situations, this is the first time a child is being exposed to the sport. When teaching young players, be patient, be consistent, enjoy what you do, never stop learning and know that you are more than a coach. Be sure to be a positive role model.”