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 11 of 11)


Steve McMichael of the Chicago SlaughterSTEVE McMICHAEL

POSITION Head coach and part owner, Chicago Slaughter (Indoor Football League); former defensive tackle, Chicago Bears (1981–93)
STATS Two-time NFL Pro Bowl selection; member, College Football Hall of Fame

When I got in the huddle with [Dan] Hampton and [Richard] Dent and their asses hit me in the ribs, I knew I was going to have to be an overachiever.

As a coach, the first thing I look for in a player is the perception that he’s an overachiever. The model is [New England Patriots MVP quarterback] Tom Brady. He was a talented quarterback, but he wasn’t a high draft pick coming out of college. He didn’t play for New England until Drew Bledsoe got hurt. When he got his chance, his mindset was that of an overachiever.

Parents can say the same thing over and over again, but when someone outside of the family unit says the same thing, all of a sudden the light bulb goes on and the kid gets it. That’s just the way it is. Parents should need and want to be role models for their kids.

A coach isn’t someone who tells you where he wants you to go in the scheme of the play. He teaches you how to get there.

In the off-season [when playing for the Bears], I’d work out Monday through Friday—upper body on Monday, Wednesday, Friday; legs on Tuesday and Thursday. I did it for four hours every morning, and then I’d go out and run in the Texas heat. I was ready to play ball. But in Walter Payton, I found a guy who trained harder than I did. I said, “Here’s one of the most talented guys I ever met in my life, and that’s how hard he works.” He was a talented guy with an overachiever’s mindset. Walter was always proving himself, baby. That’s what he was all about.


Photography: John Smierciak/Chicago Tribune



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