The Wisdom of Coaches

Top local coaches—from Ozzie Guillen and Tom Thibodeau to Oliver Purnell and Kelly Amonte Hiller—reveal sacred truths about perseverance, motivation, the importance of hard work, the value of failure, and more

(page 7 of 11)

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Dorothy Gaters of Marshall High SchoolDOROTHY GATERS

POSITION Girls’ basketball coach and athletic director, Marshall High School
STATS Eight state championships, the most in Illinois; more than 950 wins in 35 years of coaching, top among boys’ or girls’ basketball coaches in Illinois

Being the winningest coach, having the most state titles, wasn’t what I started out to do. My goal was just to beat everybody that we played.

My job is to maximize [players’] abilities, to manage their talents.

I do what I’m supposed to do in terms of laying out a plan for you. If you don’t follow it—well, you don’t follow it. That’s on you. I don’t take it personally.

By the time they get to high school, it’s hard to change kids’ characters.

Someone else’s perception of me is not something I can fix. I can only be myself.

When you get great players on your team, don’t mess them up. Just let them play. Don’t tie them down. Just put them in a situation where you can maximize their performance. Sometimes you can be too structured.

If you are going to change someone’s behavior, there have to be consequences for their actions. Without consequences, you need not even bring a problem to their attention.

 

Photograph: John Smierciak/Chicago Tribune

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