By Dylan Foreman ’18
The greatest coach I ever had and in my life was Howard McQuaid.
As the NCAA March Madness Tournament enters its championship game between North Carolina and Villanova, it dawned on me how much these two incredibly successful coaches, Roy Williams of North Carolina and Jay Wright of Villanova, have positively impacted their players lives like the coach I had growing up.
Howard McQuaid was my best friend’s father who coached me in basketball from fifth to seventh grade. He was a slender, wittingly humorous, strict and successful businessman.
His coaching style emulated his attitude towards how he parented his two children. He was and is the most entertaining guy to be around, but if he wanted something to be done, he was as serious as the Easter Island face.
He wore a visor to seem professional and serious but the only effect was that everyone thought he looked like an idiot. After all, what sane man wears a visor for an indoor sport? To this day, it is still his trademark look.
No matter the situation during a game, practice or just casually talking to him, he treated everyone like they were his own kin. He fought to push you as far as you were willing to go to be the best you wanted to be; not to how good he wanted you to be.
This is what coaches should be: a fatherly figure who instills the values needed not only to play the sport the right way but live life the right way through acts of guidance, discipline and love.
One of the most vivid things I remember my first year playing for him was this defensive drill that I think at the time, was the most mentally and physically exhaustive activity that I had done in my life up to that point.
It was called the “Do-it-Again” drill named because you could not be finished with the drill until each of the seven facets of the drill were done to perfection. If you messed up, back to the beginning of the drill you went until you could finish it.
I recall the drill pushing me to tears and in some cases full blown, animated sobbing. It gave me that sick feeling in the body and the mind where I wouldn’t allow myself to go further than I wanted. But being the man and coach he was, he did not let me quit on the drill and more importantly, myself.
Look at Mike Kryzewzski as a cornerstone of for great leaders. Head coach of the Duke University Blue Devils basketball, Coach K has become the winningest coach in Division I men’s basketball history.
I look at him differently though.
For as much as I may not like Duke’s basketball program, mainly because all they do is win, I look at Coach K and I see a molder of men. He doesn’t just want his players to succeed on the basketball court but he also wants them to succeed as students and even more importantly, in life.
I look at Howard and see many of the abilities that Coach K possesses. He cares. He taught me to care about people. One of the Duke coach’s main philosophies is showing empathy for others.
Howard showed me empathy. He preached respect and discipline. He pushed me past boundaries I didn’t know could be broken. He taught me when to take things seriously and when to have fun.
Great coaches play an integral part in your lives whether you notice it or not. Looking back, much of who I am is due to fact my coach instilled values I still hold dear today. Many people that played sports under an influential coach, know that a coach shapes not only skills but also character. My character has grown exponentially due to the greatest coach I ever had, Howard McQuaid.