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Sports Then and Now



Examples in Excellence: Most Inspiring Coaches of the Last Decade 5

Posted on July 24, 2015 by Brooke Chaplan
Jill Ellis has been successful building the U.S. Women's Soccer Team into a team of stars.

Jill Ellis has been successful building the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team into a team where everyone plays their role.

The greatest sports coaches have the power to inspire their athletes to be better than they’ve ever been and change the whole dynamic of a team. We’ve all seen what an amazing leader can do for an otherwise scrappy team, and here are just a few of the most remarkable examples of the last decade.

Build Teams with Great Players, Not One Great Player
Jill Ellis experienced incredible training as a young coach at UCLA when she was mentored by John Wooden. Now she is the manager of the U.S. Women’s Soccer team.

Ellis creates a clear team concept and teaches each player their role within it. At her father’s suggestion, she learned communication outside her sport. For a while, she was a technical writer. Now she can explain her team vision and help her players to be their best within it. Her background was able to prepare her for seeing a big picture and what each part needs to do to organize a working machine.

Leadership by Listening
Steve Kerr was the first rookie head coach in the NBA to win the championship since 1982. The Golden State Warriors were a team of current and future all-stars, but they needed someone who could pull all the pieces together.

Kerr created a system based on the strengths of his players to maximize the team’s performance. He also empowered his coaching staff to share their ideas and listened to everyone. Most significantly, in the NBA Finals, an assistant coach wanted to change the starting line-up to help them deal with the previously unstoppable LeBron James. Kerr accepted and implemented the idea. Not only did it work, Kerr publicly identified his assistant as the source of the idea. This is one example out of dozens of Kerr giving credit to others for the team’s success.
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NFL Classic Rewind: Manning Leads Colts to Miracle Comeback Win Over Bucs 4

Posted on September 29, 2011 by A.J. Foss

During the 2003 season, the week 5 meeting with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was an emotional game for Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy as it marked the first time he returned to Tampa Bay since his removal as the Buccaneers’ head coach.

Dungy was hired as the Buccaneers head coach before the 1996 season and in his second season lead Tampa Bay to its first winning season in 15 years.

Combining his efforts with defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, Dungy created the “Tampa 2” defense to lead Tampa Bay a 56-46 record in six seasons and four playoff appearances, including a trip to the 1999 NFC Championship Game.

But back-to-back playoff losses to the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2000 and 2001 NFC Wild Card Game plus the inability to produce a more explosive offense, Dungy was fired after the 2001 season.

Dungy’s replacement, former Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, took over the reins in Tampa Bay and took the Bucs to the Super Bowl in his first season, which they won 48-21 over the Oakland Raiders.

Meanwhile, Dungy moved to Indianapolis to become the Colts’ head coach and join forces with quarterback Peyton Manning, an All-Pro quarterback who unfortunately had a reputation of not winning the big game as he was 0-2 in his postseason career before Dungy’s arrival.

In their first season together, Manning and Dungy helped the Colts a 10-6 record and a playoff berth, only to be humiliated by the New York Jets 41-0 in the AFC Wild Card round.

While it was not a playoff game, the stakes of the game were high for Manning and Dungy to see if they could lead their team to a win over the defending Super Bowl champions on the road on Monday Night Football.

But for most of the game, it looked like another big game loss for Manning and Dungy.

On the first play of the Bucs’ second possession of the game, quarterback Brad Johnson fired a pass for Keenan McCardell, who made the catch at the Indianapolis 30, and then outran the Colts defenders for a 74-yard touchdown that gave Tampa Bay a 7-0 lead.

McCardell would score another touchdown on the Bucs’ next drive on would have been the strangest play of the game if not for the finish.

On a first-and-ten from the Tampa 33, Johnson made a poor throw that was picked off by Colts safety Mike Doss at his own 41-yard-line.

Doss returned it 16 yards to the Bucs’ 43-yard-line until he was hit and fumbled the ball, which McCardell recovered on a bounce and ran 57 yards for the touchdown to increase the Tampa lead to 14-0 in the first quarter. Read the rest of this entry →

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Bill Freehan: Michigan Man
      May 12, 2018 | 6:21 pm

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was an 11-time American League All-Star at one of the most demanding positions in baseball, yet outside of Detroit his exploits have been largely forgotten.

      For more than a decade, Bill Freehan was the rock behind home plate for the Detroit Tigers. In addition to earning All-Star honors 10 straight years and 11 times overall, Freehan was a five-time Gold Glove winner and in 1968 finished second in the American League in the MVP voting.

      A true “Michigan Man”, Freehan played his entire sports career representing teams from Michigan.

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