Coach Bates: Lessons Learned from Notable Mentors
By Chris Bates | Aug 26, 2021
It’s always important to remember the coaching influences that have helped shaped your career and philosophy. For me, three men immediately come to mind. First and foremost, I worked for Randy Voigt at Drexel University, my first college coaching job. Coach Voigt was a throwback to the early days of the profession: he was an associate athletic director, PE teacher & D1 coach all wrapped in one. From Coach Voigt I came to value and understand that a teacher and educator always was always my primary role. If you start with the person and the learning process in mind first, the player and team development will follow. Coach Voigt also taught me to honor the Native American roots of our game. To this day, every team I coach will hopefully better appreciate the rich history of this great sport and they will most certainly play a game or two of Baggataway each year…
I had the privilege of learning from two other exceptional Hall of Fame leaders as well, though not quite as closely as with Coach Voigt. Coach Edell was the legendary coach at Army and Maryland for many years. My close coaching friend, Scott Marr, was on staff with the Terps and I got to both hear all about and watch how the Big Man approached his players and team. There was always a pure joy with Coach Edell around the game, but at the same time he always kept his players accountable for both the big and little things, on the field and off. At one 6am fall practice, there was a small mental error, but Coach wanted to make a larger point and had all the boys on the line with some early morning down backs. As he bellowed important lacrosse and life lessons while they dragged through sprints, he turned away from them, smiled and winked at me. I understood the message of setting the bar high while sometimes using a touch of theatrics to make a valuable point.
Lastly, I’ve always had the greatest respect for Coach Tierney. Coach Voigt and I would periodically watch Princeton practices and sit down and talk lacrosse with Coach T and Metzy. As a former Dartmouth guy, we beat Princeton in his first year at the helm and from there I witnessed first-hand the meteoric rise of the Tiger program. Yes, I still incorporate basic defensive skills, principles, and packages that I learned from those days into my current thinking, but what will always stick with me most is the simple powerful belief that anything is possible, and that the need for setting goals high and a dogged perseverance to stick to the plan can and will pay off. Watching the amazing growth of those early Coach Tierney teams certainly helped shape me as a coach and it was an honor to follow in his footsteps at Princeton.