This story first appeared in the Henderson Daily Dispatch, written by sports editor Kellen Holtzman. We use the story on our web site with permission.
Winning is often how athletic excellence is defined, but in-game strategy wasn’t the theme of a coaching leadership workshop recently.
Mark Dreibelbis spoke to Northern Vance and Southern Vance football coaches and school administrators recently about the impact a coach can have on a young person’s life.
“We won’t talk a lot about X’s and O’s,” said Dreibelbis, the assistant commissioner of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, “but we talk about role modeling, leadership, having a plan that involves your ethics, your opinion, your background and your beliefs, and not compromising those as we seek to win games.”
Northern head coach Eric Watkins and Lewis Young, Southern’s head coach, each attended the workshop at the Vance County Schools Administrative Services Center along with their respective coaching staffs.
Dreibelbis has spent the last nine and a half years with the state athletic association and previously served as an associate athletics director at Appalachian State. He oversees the association’s coach education program in addition to supervising officials.
Information in Dreibelbis’ lecture ranged from rule changes and player safety to an emphasis on coaches recognizing the importance of treating each student-athlete distinctly; for example, some may have been raised by both parents while others grew up in single-parent environments.
“We have to stay aware,” said Young, “and focus on our community and the different things we can do to help our community so they can achieve not only on the football field, but in life.”
Dreibelbis spoke about his 89-year-old father, a former high school coach who recently attended one of his team’s annual reunions. The Charlotte native told the Northern and Southern coaches they would carry the title of “coach” forever and should appreciate the responsibility that comes with it.
Dreibelbis also touched on the relationship between coaches and officials, offering instruction on the proper ways for coaches to approach referees during games.
“It was really an outstanding thing,” Watkins said of the workshop. “We picked up on some things. We learned some things. The message really was letting the kids enjoy the game.”
The next stop on Dreibelbis’ summer tour was a basketball officials training clinic in Fayetteville. He said the reception in Henderson made for a pleasant drive south.
“I was amazed at the number of people that came up to me and said, ‘Thanks, we really enjoyed this,’” said Dreibelbis.
Dreibelbis’ methods have garnered national acclaim. He has been named the Coach Educator of the Year Award from the National Federation of State High School Associations.
Thanks in part to Dreibelbis’ efforts, the state athletic association now requires that new coaches and non-faculty or volunteer coaches complete the NFHS Fundamentals of Coaching course. Effective Aug. 1, 2015, all state coaches must be nationally certified.
Dreibelbis said overall ejections around the state decreased last year.
“We think we’re doing a pretty good job with this,” he said. “If we can make a difference, that’s what we’re trying to do.”
The first day of high school football practice is slated for Aug. 1.