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Nov. 22, 2022

Creating a Permanent Culture w/Caleb Parnin

Creating a Permanent Culture w/Caleb Parnin

#54.  Thanks for listening to The "I" in Win podcast! Today we feature English teacher/Head Girls Soccer Coach at North Muskegon High School, Caleb Parnin. In his episode, we're going to discuss his unique journey from soccer player to coach, what he's learned from winning a state championship, and why he decided to make culture a yearly focus.

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Transcript

Caleb:

"I loved it so much. Immediately just felt this impact with students and players that "I, you know, "I had thought, "I had great relationships with my students in the classroom until "I coached. And then "I realized. Just that relationship's so different and so real

Luke:

Hello everyone, and thanks for joining us for another episode of The "I" in Win podcast. Today we have on English teacher head girl, soccer coach at North Muskegon High School, Caleb Parnin. In his episode, we're going to discuss his unique journey from soccer player to coach, what he's learned from winning a state championship and why he decided to make culture a yearly focus. So Caleb, let's get started with that unique journey that you and "I have discussed in the. About you as a soccer player to going to college, what you learned from that experience and how you end up becoming a soccer coach yourself.

Caleb:

Yeah. Um, "I think for every young person, you're, you're always searching for what you're great at. You know, "I, "I got this hilarious story one time, the first time "I ever went golfing, "I hit the ball like six feet from the pin. And I'm like, you gotta be kidding me. It was a par three, by the way, but "I walked up and I'm like, dude, "I am so good at this. This is awesome. "I found what "I was good at. Three putted, but whatever. But. "I think like as young people, like you're so interested in being good at something. Right. And, and for me, like "I didn't realize it at the time, but "I think that "I got into soccer because "I found success there. Right? "I was, uh, not a particularly huge dude, um, five 10. And so football wasn't really cut out for me. Basketball, "I wasn't very good at it, and for whatever reason, soccer just made sense to me as a game. "I just saw the field in a certain way. "I "I. Don't know. "I. "I was able to be pretty successful in soccer. "I had some at a time. "I had some records in the school, in the in, in the state, and, um, just found some success there and really loved it and couldn't really decide if "I wanted to play in college or not. And "I eventually just "I. Don't think "I knew what "I wanted to do. So "I said, yeah, "I do "I wanna play in college? And throughout that journey was funny. Like "I. "I went out to Trinity, a smaller school in Deerfield, Illinois. Was out there. And "I honestly found that "I "I wasn't as good as "I thought "I was. Um, and that journey was really hard on me. Um, in the course of two years, "I think like while on a soccer scholarship, "I found myself just, you know, falling less and less interested in this sport. Right? And it just felt like every day practice became less and less fun. And "I don't think it was anything. Coach was doing it just for me. It was, it, it lost its value and. I, it was at that time, "I kind of started reflecting like on like soccer in general. "I just found that everyone else loved it more than. Everyone on my team Saturday mornings, waking up early watching Premier League and playing FIFA and knowing what the newest shoe was, "I "I just felt like "I really didn't fit in that world, like "I thought "I did, and really just felt like "I don't know. "I kind of like hadn't really decided who "I was gonna be at. So for me, like soccer, like it was this really important part of who "I was until about 18, 19 years old. And. "I walked away from it. And my sophomore year of college, "I thought "I would never play again. "I really did "I "I. Never in a million years would "I have thought "I was gonna coach, especially kids who weren't my own kids, you know? And somehow through the process, "I, "I, "I started coaching a freshman team at my last school, and "I couldn't have been more wrong. "I loved it so much. Immediately just felt this impact with students and players that "I, you know, "I had thought, "I had great relationships with my students in the classroom until "I coached. And then "I realized. Just that relationship's so different and so real with not all, but a lot of the players. And so "I, just "I felt like coaching for me was just a awesome way to teach something. "I knew pretty well. and also building upon my strengths of working with students, which "I do every day in the classroom, but then taking it outside and making 'em run a little bit. It was a pretty good fit.

Luke:

Yeah, so couple things. "I wanted to go back to that you mentioned one was. your soccer teammates in college, and they're watching the game. They're playing the video game, and they're really into that. One thing I've noticed is a lot of athletes just don't do that as much anymore. "I mean "I Talk to kids that say, oh, "I love baseball. "I wanna focus on baseball. "I wanna make it to, to the majors. And I'll just try to have conversation in the classroom. Say, well, you, you, a Cubs fan or a Sox fan? Pretty typical question in. "I, don't watch baseball "I just play it. And I'm hearing that more and more throughout all of sports and "I don't know if that's happening in soccer based on the fact that you're shaking your head and you just said, yep, "I. Guess it is. "I feel like it's impacting the iq, the sports IQ of, of kids. And "I Know this is a little bit of a tangent, but

Caleb:

Sure

Luke:

have you noticed that, or does it mean that these kids just don't love the sport as much as we used?

Caleb:

"I think they love it for different reasons and. "I think they love it for their teammates and they love it for the sport. Kind of like what we were talking about. Like they find success in it. Maybe they like their coach or their team or whatever, but absolutely "I. See that. "I know for like my own son, he's on a team and "I think he's one of very few kids on that team that watch soccer. And so like you do see the kids that watch soccer learn it faster, right? There's things that don't really make sense and "I don't know. Like if you're a forward until you're about 13 years old, you stand with your hand in the air looking to like sprint down the sideline. You know, if you watch any professional soccer team, like that's not the game plan for the most part. And so, yeah, "I mean that affected our, our girls team too. "I, don't think a ton of them watched soccer and we tried certain ways to influence them to get 'em to watch like the Euros or the World Cup or whatever the Olympics. And fortunately the US women's team has been so successful that "I think a lot of our girl athletes have at least grown up watching some soccer and it's not a regular thing for them. Certainly like, you know, all the gold medals and World Cups and all that has been something that they could get behind. For sure.

Luke:

let's talk about the coaching piece now, which is really the focus of, of what we wanna discuss. And you mentioned the word impact and you "I could just telling your verbals and "I obviously see you through the computer screen. Like you really lit up and you said, oh man, "I saw a coach "I just like loved it. How did you know right away that there even was an.

Caleb:

That's a good question. Um, I don't know. "I, "I think like "I as, you know, "I 15 years in the classroom. It's like you kind of are get pretty good at reading kids and, and that whole world. And for me, "I think the way the kids looked at you like, help me. Right in the middle of the, they want you to have the answer and, you know, "I, wish "I had it all the time, but like, they look at you like, help me "I, wanna do it? I, wish "I got that more in the classroom, you know, and there's times where we're having this discussion about a paper, you know, and I'm like, "I, is this about the grade or is this about like learning how to write? Because if it's about the grade, like I'll give you one point, whatever. Right? Like, what are we doing here? Right? Um, but with sport, like "I think everyone's listening to you in a different way. And so they want you to help them in a way that "I think they. Kind of consuming everything about who you are. Right? And so like who you are as a person, sort of engulfs, like "I don't know. They, they get the whole thing, They get my strengths, they get my weaknesses, but they know who "I am and "I think if we're authentic, I, think "I could just sense it, right? "I think the girls started to, for me that's where "I saw the greater impact was on my older girls, the varsity team, and. Just the way that they'd ask questions and like the way they'd, you know, hang out after practice for a minute. Or, you know, when you're checking in with the kids beforehand and they're bringing stuff up that "I wasn't getting in the classroom. it was real stuff about college and stuff. And, you know, every now and again, we get that Luke, you know, as an English guy, um, they come around the fall about those conversations when they need a letter of wreck or something, you know, and

Luke:

Suddenly we matter as an English teacher in that

Caleb:

Super important in the fall for them to be friendly with us. Right. But "I don't know. "I just, "I just felt like they were asking such real questions about like, should "I play soccer in college? And, and what do you think like, should "I go to a big school or "I got, you know, "I got this D three or D two or whatever school, like, interested in me. What do you think? And, and "I "I think like, they get such advice from their parents. Like, you can't help but as a parent, you know, like influence them in the way that you want them to see that. So "I think having an adult that can answer that objectively and just share my experience. Like, yeah, "I quit soccer, but did "I quit for the right reason? And so like "I can kind of articulate that with the girls and "I just feel like they wanna have someone who's not their parent and not their teacher. Even though, yeah, I'm a teacher. But they see that a little differently at times with a coach. And "I, "I just "I Dunno. "I felt like we had some really cool conversations about that, that "I don't think they were able to honestly have with a lot of people.

Luke:

Well, the one thing we discussed is you took over a great program and a great team, and you're kind of, we're in your infantile stages of coaching at that moment, and all of a sudden "I was like, bang, all of this pressure to win. But you said you really focused on the culture piece. How did you tune out the pressure? You knew you had a, a state caliber team. The expectations were high. You didn't have a ton of experience at that moment as a head coach. Like how did you tune out the noise and still make it about the people and the journey of becoming a good human being?

Caleb:

Yeah. Um, "I think like at the end of the day, like when "I, when "I first got the job, "I called every coach, you know, that "I could think of in the area where "I, where "I was working, and "I "I just kind of reached out and asked them for advice and stuff, and so many said like, Listen, championships are like, there's a lot of luck involved. There really is right before warmups, we're in the state finals, We're on Michigan State's campus, We're feeling good about our matchup. One of my best players in warmups gets banged up and in warmups, And one of the girls on our team, like we're just doing like a simple warmup, just need a knee kind of thing. And she goes down on the ground, she's down for five minutes. Like there's so much luck involved, right? If that was an inch to the right, to the left, all of a sudden she's not playing. It was an inch higher, an inch low. All of a sudden that's a torn whatever. Like there's so many, you know, watching your kids play soccer, Luke, like how many times does it hit the post and it doesn't go in or hits the post and it goes in off the goalie's hand. So much luck involved that "I didn't wanna make it about that winning. And so like "I sold this idea from. "I "I, a friend of ours, and they said essentially like on a note card before the season, like, have the kids write like goals for themselves, like a personal goal, Like "I wanna score seven goals, or "I wanna start, or "I wanna do this, and then "I want our team to win state or whatever. And then the question is, all right, now pretend none of that happens, right? Pretend none of that happens. You don't. You know what Coach didn't think you were a good forward. You're playing defense. Your team fell apart in districts, whatever that. On the back side of that no car. We were encouraging girls to write down things that made them still feel happy that they played on this team. Right? So what would be some things that we could do as a team that no matter what happens, right, no matter what happens, wins, losses, your own success, what would make this a successful year for you? And so many kids just started writing down stuff about family and sisterhood and, memories and. It's, you could tell like it was real, right? It wasn't that they were just answering the question "I had, but that's why "I think sports are so fun and like at a time where like, you know, "I took over right after Covid. Um, so these, a lot of these girls thought they were gonna win the state the year before too. So it had been ripped from them, so they missed that team mentality and that that like sisterhood. And so they wanted it so badly and they also wanted to win. So, So we kinda just reframed it with we're not winning for you, we're winning for us. Right? Like "I want you to go out there and play for the girl on your left and the girl on your right because she's your sister and she's your teammate. And this is a great school and we love this place. And like, listen, years from now we're gonna hang a banner in that gym. You're gonna look back on this and like it. We just kind of tried to reframe it a little bit cuz "I mean, you know, like this last year we, we had, we. We score with six minutes left to tie it and won in shootouts in the, you know, regional final. It's like, okay, so like, let's say we didn't score that goal. Was it a failure of a season? It's like, well, you, it's too much riding on luck and chance for me, um, as much as "I wanna be prepared as a coach, but you know, like you scout a team as much as you can and then they come out and all of a sudden they're doing something totally different. It's like you can only prepare so much. So "I like "I. "I didn't wanna let it ride on on things that we couldn't control, So we can control our effort, we control how we treat people and love each other, how we prepare as best we can and like we had to be okay with the result at what it is. So,

Luke:

And how did the girls respond to that? Um, "I. "I mean "I make an assumption. This might have been a little bit of a. Of a different approach because so many coaches focus on the wins and losses, and the goals are we're gonna win state, we're gonna win conference, we're gonna win regionals, we're gonna win sectionals, we're gonna win state and, and rightfully so. We do want to hoist the trophy at the end of the season, obviously. But here you are a new coach and you're like, wait a minute, we're gonna focus on these other aspects, these lessons that we take away, these experiences that we take away from sports. Were they okay with it right away? Were they comfortable talking about these things or do you think they were a little confused at first?

Caleb:

I'm sure they were surprised. Right? But "I, don't get me wrong, we still talked about winning state. You know what "I mean? Like that was still the goal, But the way we were gonna do it is we were gonna focus on what we can control, there's this awesome video. Becky Burley, former coach at University of Florida Women's soccer coach, she has this awesome on what drives winning. She has this video where she like, they all have these green dots on their hands, right? Where like, it, it, it like stood for for them that green men go. And that meant that we were all in and what we were doing. And so we kind of talked about like so many times in sport, we hold back because we're afraid of screwing up. We're afraid we don't know what we're doing, that sort of thing. So "I think the girls really. The, the idea that like we were gonna play for each other, part of that was making each other better by just saying, listen, like we're gonna screw up. I'm as a coach, there's times where "I should have changed lineups or "I should have subbed earlier, or "I should have, called a different, corner kick play or something like that. And like, you know, we're, we're not gonna do, we're just gonna sit here and rely on the fact that we are all in to give full effort for each other that the results will take care of the. So it wasn't like, oh, it doesn't matter. You know, we, we were certainly like, our, our goal was there, right? We had a team that we felt comfortable about winning. Um, and we felt like that was well within our control. But to get over that hump, the girls had gone to the state semifinal. They were so close, like so close for three years before that "I got here, right? And so for us it was like, well, gosh, we have enough talent to get it done. At that point, it's just kind of like lucky weird things happen, right? "I, you know, the girls, the year before a ball almost goes out of bounce. It didn't quite go outta bounce. The girls stopped on it. Like just weird things happened. And so like we were like, that's, that's not how we're gonna do it. We're gonna go fully in and see what happens and we're gonna win state because of the way that we're gonna treat each other. And that's what's gonna set us apart from our opponents. And so "I think like bringing the culture into like what we wanted to use it for. "I think without that "I think they would've questioned a lot for sure.

Luke:

And the best thing happened. You won state. So what can you take away, or what did you take away from winning state? Because either way, winning or losing, there's a lot of lessons you take away as a coach. What did you take away from winning state?

Caleb:

Well, it's funny, like "I, "I for sure took away how important culture was, right? "I. It felt like it wasn't just like cheesy stuff on our bulletin board. They weren't just shirts like the girls really, truly meant it and loved each other. So much so that "I thought it was a little more permanent than what it was, right? Like it was so clearly who we were that like "I didn't realize that "I need to go back to like maybe step two outta 10, right? "I think "I assumed we'd be a little bit closer together, um, as we approached the next season. So like what "I learned was like validated, right? Like culture is important. You need this stuff in order to succeed unless you are just absolutely loaded with. but like the next year like this, coming into this past season, we lost five first team all staters. so we had a pretty new starting lineup, like a lot of those kids at minutes a year before. But "I think, for me the takeaway was like, culture was so important, but like how to redo that whole thing is it, it "I Think that that was an area where, for me, "I wish "I. It's not that "I didn't think it was important, "I that "I didn't know how to redo that, if that makes sense. It was like there was something magical. And so like the girls this year were a little bit more like, um, they wanna put their own stamp on things and they, they didn't wanna be compared to the year before, which is perfectly acceptable, right? Like, we don't wanna compare you as captain to that captain or this captain. Like, we're not doing that. But like, it was really hard to, to recreate what was something so magical about that first year. But just like how hard it was to do that, right? And so this last year we spent more time doing that. And there's some areas where, for me, "I feel like "I, wish "I would've spent more focus on those areas. But like for the most part, man, we were, we were just as hard on culture. It just didn't happen as organically as the year before. Um, it's hard. We had a bunch of freshman play and Win State is freshman, it's hard for a freshman to be like her, you know, her first year to walk out there, start and win state her freshman year. How crazy would that be as a freshman to do that? Right. And we had like four or five, six girls playing major minutes for us as freshmen win. And like "I, don't know. "I think that there's, there was just that learning curve from year one to year two with our culture that "I just didn't quite get there. and you know, so we think about that a lot. "I.

Luke:

So you mentioned you spent more time on culture, so gimme an example of what that means and what that looks like. "I mean, are you, are you taken in a classroom and watching videos? Are you reading a book together? Like what does that mean that you spent more time on

Caleb:

Yeah. So a couple things we did. So the year prior we all read a book together as captains, right? But it felt like it wasn't including enough people, I had four captains, which is kinda large for a group our size. But you know, "I think that's great and. More leaders is better. Right? That's how "I felt. But, so we read this book, uh, Jeff Janssen's, how to Build a Build and Sustain a Championship Culture. Um, if you've not read it, it's, it's outstanding. works with like Notre Dame, Michigan, usc, like "I mean, you name it, UNC Women's Soccer, right? Like you name it, he worked with them. And so we read that book together year one with the Captains "I. Just thought it was. And one area that "I wanted to improve on is "I wanted to be more inclusive in our leadership. Right. So in what way? Like, yeah, you had three or four or five, whatever, captains like what about the other kids on the team? what do you do with them? Right? We want everyone to grow as leaders and as people through this program that we're building here. So, That was the main thing for culture that we did. But we also, like there was this program called Lead 'em Up. Um, we worked with pretty closely. Um, they did lots of, the idea was basically like, how do we teach leadership? And so they have like sets of exercises you can do. And we would do those like at least once a week during practice. Like we would do something on body language. So there's this exercise in body language where like, it's almost like charades and "I give a girl like a, a little note card. It says like, And so like she walks through and the girls are lined up, we got music pumping and the girls walk out and just act like they're full of themselves, that kind of thing. And like within half a second the girls are like arrogant, like, and they kind of call out these things and you're like, well what, what's that saying? Or you know, we do another one on like feedback called sugar and salt. And so one of the things we do there is like we set up these scenarios and we tell 'em like, what would a sugar would be like pure love and all good and positive energy. Like what would they say? Gave up a, a, you know, a bad PK in the middle of the second half. Like what would someone who's all sugars say to that then like, all salt to someone who's just nasty about it. The truth, like just in a just rude way. Right? And so we find that we have to combine those things. So we would do these like exercises, "I, "I would say weekly, but you know, like pretty close every week, maybe week and a half or so, that we were at least spending, you know, 10, 15 minutes on something like. Um, additionally, like one of our favorite things to do is eat together. We love it. And "I, "I would say, one of the highlights this year for us was we did a, we called it a No Top Chef, um, where like "I had reached out to some parents ahead of time and just said, Hey, you know, could you have recipes and ingredients ready to go For the girls, they don't know it. We're gonna go short tonight and practice. We're gonna play play for like an hour. And then you're gonna have like five girls show up at your house and "I without helping them. "I wanna see like you could have a recipe and ingredients and they're gonna cook dinner for our, like our party tonight. So "I got 'em, you know, mixed up in different groups of kids that don't often talk together and they went off to each other's houses and you know, are just doing some. And then "I kind of popped around just like a cooking show, and "I got the Instagram live, you know. Showing the kids cooking and they're having a great time. Then we had judges and stuff. Like, we just try to do a lot of stuff like that. Right? Just be really intentional with like, you can't just take your kids mini golfing, right? Like they're just gonna mini, they're gonna mini golf with their friends, right? Like, you can't just like have a pizza party. Like they're not gonna get better as a team because of that. Like, there has to be some sort of like push in the right direction. And maybe that's captains pulling kids into their car instead of that car. Or like, you know, just lots of stuff like. One cool tradition, Luke, too, that started before me here. Uh, the previous coach of this thing called soccer Sisters and he would like partner up like a freshman and a senior or sophomore and a junior and like throughout the season they would like get each other candy or write each other notes before games and just like, they just built such intimate friendships and like it's just, you can just see it working. It was really cool.

Luke:

Locked, unpack there. Uh, so and "I mean that as a cop. That was awesome. "I "I. Really appreciate the depth that you went into and you gave us a lot of very easily. Uh, what's the word I'm looking for? We could implement this stuff easily into our own programs and "I don't think it takes away a lot of feel time, as you've mentioned. And even if it did, it's well worth it. So let's talk about the meal portion. "I mean It is unbelievable how much breaking bread brings people together. Okay. And "I, like how you said that you intentionally have them with people that maybe they're not Usually with. "I do the same thing we do weekly team. and "I. "I separated them and "I put them on a specific coach and "I have 'em with the coach that they don't usually work with. And "I, make sure that they're not sitting with their friends and "I tell 'em this ahead of time. "I like, this is your group for the whole year. Because you're gonna get to know someone in a different way that. If "I let you just sit with your friends, you're not gonna get to know the other people. So, so that's outstanding. "I mean, there's no doubt about it. "I love the angle of having them cook because now they're doing something together rather than just passively eating. So that's outstanding. Now going to the body language thing, man, that, that's just, that's phenomenal, right? Cause they don't realize we're just talking today. My staff and "I. Sometimes these kids are just uncoachable, and again, it's the body language. So did they put two and two together? Like, Hey guys, look how easy it is for you to pick out arrogance. For example, now you know as me, your coach, like "I could pick out what you're feeling too, like did they make those connections?

Caleb:

I don't know, but like for me, like "I, don't know, we don't have a, the girls would probably say a different answer than "I would. Right? Like they read into things differently than "I would, as, as an adult, right? So they might see something as arrogant and "I didn't. So caveat apply, right? But "I think for us, a big thing that we wanted to focus on was don't hang your head. there is nothing "I. I'd rather a kid be arrogant in a heartbeat than a kid hanging their head, they see it immediately, and they all start losing confidence as a team. "I would rather have the kids so swag up, right? Like so excited and like, gimme the ball. "I wanna shoot. I'll take that. Right? We'll, we'll coach you on like maybe how you said that or something, but like, man, "I think the hardest one for us is like you shoot the ball and you miss it from six yards out and they just go right. And you just know like, man, you know what's gonna happen on the next shot. The next kid's gonna miss. The next kid's gonna miss, there's nothing more contagious than like, oh, here we go. Right? Somebody knocks down a three pointer, what's the percentage increase on the next shot? Right. You know, it like your teams just starts shooting.

Luke:

Yep.

Caleb:

miss everything in a row and then all of a sudden they make six in a row. These things are contagious. So for me it was more along the lines of like, Hey man, when you're, when you make a mistake, like we had one of our best captains, she was awesome. Um, and she like laughed and not like in a like, just a playful like, dude "I should have had that next "I. Like it just shook it off and you're like, oh my gosh, that's perfect. Right? That is a perfect way to deal with it. It wasn't like, that's hilarious. It doesn't matter to me. It. Huh? Can you believe "I missed that? I'm gonna make the next one for sure. You know?

Luke:

So do you have to be creative year to year with these lead 'em up activities? Or are you able to to do 'em each year? Cause that's the other thing "I struggle with cuz "I like you, "I "I try to be intentional and teach to things that are outside of the game, but in my opinion are bigger than the game. But sometimes "I worry about, use the example of you had freshmen with you on varsity, that's four years of them doing the, is it sugar and salt? Is that what the activity was? Yeah. That's four years. "I doing sugar and salt. "I started going, ah, And it, it kinda loses its excitement a little bit. So how creative do you have to be year to year or are you able to continue to reinforce these things? Like for me, "I gotta, "I, gotta work in the English thing. Now. Caleb "I can read Great Gatsby every year. I'm

Caleb:

Yeah, me too, man. Yep.

Luke:

Yeah. "I. But "I know that's the, the nerdy English teacher of me. So what about these lead 'em up activities? How creative do you have?

Caleb:

Yeah. And so "I think like the concept of sugar and salt was so easy. Cause we'd be like in the middle of the game, be like, we need more sugar. We need more sugar out there. Like just something quick like that and "I, like they know what that means. Right? but "I would say like, they have exercises that are a little more, "I would say, like, the way "I implement it is "I just change the scenario. They have pre-made scenarios that you can use. it's just an area where "I feel comfortable, right? The English teacher's side. "I "I can change the scenario. So "I actually asked our captains, I'm like, Hey, what's stuff going on right now that's that maybe "I don't know about? What are some things that like you think we need some work on? They're like, Hey, it feels clicky. Okay. Like let's, it's clicky. All right, so how do we fix that? So let's think of a scenario where like, Hey, you two come up here. You are best friends and you're walking into the room and they don't even look at you like, what do we do here? We just try to like, bring out to the forefront the things that are going on with an honest approach. Like it's not me being perfect. It's the fact that like, these are real things that they're going through. Like our, our girls this year were a little bit like, they weren't, they didn't just, they didn't click as naturally, right? It didn't happen as naturally. And so we had to try to do that in different ways. And you know, it, one of the things we did this year is, man, we had like the girls kind of share like, what's a fear that you have? Or something like, what, what's your why? We did all kinds of stuff and just felt like every time we did some of that it got a little bit better. But like something like cliques and soccer like that is devastating to a team, right? Like if you don't have team chemistry, like there's 11 kids on a field, like what other sport can you pull someone off the field for five minutes? The other team doesn't score, right? Like you see it all the time. Someone you know, whether it's real or not, they fake an injury. They get an injury, they, they come off the field and for five minutes, no one scores. So it's like in soccer. It's such a team game. Like you, if you're clicking like on all cylinders, man, you can beat anybody. "I think. And then the other side is like, if you're not clicking, all of a sudden you're not seeing the passes or you don't trust your teammates or whatever. So "I it is challenging for sure.

Luke:

Let's go back to the leadership piece. You've referenced that throughout this conversation. What are you doing in your program to help develop leaders?

Caleb:

So right now, like "I meet with my captains, um, "I announce them like. Early cuz "I want all year. That to be something that we work on. "I think it's a, it's a slap in the face to captains if you just name a captain and then you walk away and you're like, why don't these kids know how to lead? Well goodness. Look at our country. Right? Like, look at the adults in their lives. Like, do we see strong leaders that are willing to like be bold or like just goodness. You can see Twitter the last 24 hours. Any you name, any election or whatever, you look down on the comments. It's just sickening the way people talk about other people like, so there's not great leadership out there at their disposal. In fact, we are trained "I think in society to cut people down. Right? We can't wait to get that juicy detail right, to slam this leader versus like, okay, they might disagree with you on that thing, but like we dis or in high school, kids are even worse, right? They're in this world where they're like, they're so used to. The comments people write in their Instagram posts are like just nasty stuff that they go through. So they're used to that and they expect that. Right. And so "I don't know, we try to get early on, we try to have like all the captains "I meet with like every other week at lunch. So that's how we start. And we do work over the summer too. So like during the summer we'll just do like, you know, every other night, or I'm sorry, every other week, every other night. "I could do that. They would probably not like that. Every other week, we would just get together and like, Hey, we're gonna read chapter one out of this book. Right? Or, um, Hey, we're just gonna get together and talk like right now. Like we're in our offseason schedule right now and stuff. And it's that balance of "I want the girls to be able to have fun and have socialize, right? Like they wanna play club volleyball, they want to go to basketball games. And like if "I come up with a schedule and interferes with all that, it just ruins stuff, So like we're building a calendar for the girls, but they're building it and I'm just saying, You guys come up with it and we will be there. "I will make sure adults are there to help you do this thing, so lots of reading, and then really intentional like tasks for the week. last year one thing we did was like during our off season conditioning, we're there for an hour, 15 minutes, couple days a week. Last 15 minutes of at least one session a week, we're going like, Hey, today we're talking about mental performance, or, Hey, we're talking about. One of the things we talked about last week is if you're within six feet, you have to acknowledge them with your either A, you know, one of those head bumps or head nods and or if you're within walking distance, you just fist bump your teammate like every time you see them to acknowledge them. And so for a week, "I, go, "I want you every time you walk by me every time, fist bumper had not right. Acknowledge me and "I want you to do that to your teammate. And you know, with anything, right? It was great for a week and then it kinda, you know, but again, if you revisit these things throughout the year, it doesn't take a whole lot to like rekindle a fire. They're like, oh yeah, that's right. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. Like, it didn't necessarily, it's not permanent. It's the fact that we're constantly talking about it. "I think that, you know, "I hope that these things kind of become permanent at some point, but it's not like "I don't know, whatever we're talking about, it is not gonna fix it, you know, the first time. It's just something that we gotta continuously teach. So, yeah, "I. "I again. I'm sorry. Like "I. "I. Just "I. Don't think we teach kids how to be leaders. Right? And so, you know, and my U 10 soccer team, like we, we have a Captain "I didn't talk to them about leadership, right? "I didn't do that. "I never even brought it up, right? What does that mean if you're a captain on the U 10 team? You worked really hard in practice. is that being a leader? That's the easiest thing to do, is to be a leader that just works hard, you set the example That's just one part of it. And like if you just have a bunch of people who set the example, like you still don't have leadership on your team, right? Someone's gotta be a refocus or get them back like, hey, we start to lose focus. You need someone other than coach to be like, Hey, we gotta go, we gotta go. You need the encourager, you need all kinds of different roles. And so like I try to "I hope, teach the girls that like you're not all gonna be one or any of these things, You're gonna be you. And the best version of yourself is getting better at these areas in ways that work for you.

Luke:

"I completely concur with the youth Captainship having my own kids go through it and seeing the kids who get named Captain, which. Nine outta 10 times is the most talented one, which has nothing to do with being a captain.

Caleb:

Or the coaches and

Luke:

or Yeah. Right. Or the coach's

Caleb:

I'd even do that for my kid. What the heck? Yeah.

Luke:

right. So "I don't wanna go down that road, but "I am with you on that. "I, do wanna go back to the reading part? Help us out with some suggestions. You said there's a lot of reading plus "I know you're an English teacher. I'm looking at Ed Gal and Poe behind. So what are some great suggestions to put out there for those of us that want to intentionally teach leadership?

Caleb:

So "I would say the one I'm reading right now, it's funny, "I "I have books all around me. This isn't a Prop "I swear. Um, this one's called the Culture System. Um, JP Nevin, he's got a podcast, The coaching culture. Um, it is awesome. It's about 30 minutes weekly. He, he interviews just Monty Williams from the Suns, like "I mean, you name it. He's interviewed em. And so he has a podcast and he's put basically like compiled this, like all these podcasts into like a book on how to build a, like a good culture. Um, then the other one "I have is Jeff Janssen's book. This is the one "I was talking about how to build and sustain a championship culture. And this is kinda. There's like "I think six or seven parts to that. And so, you know, with, with those sorts of books, it's like you might be at step one in your program versus like for us, like we were at step one last year, but we're not at step one this year. We might be at step two or something like that. So those were good. Um, one thing "I will say too though is "I think it's super, kids are like absolute experts at noticing when a coach or a teacher is. So like "I don't know, like there's certain like leadership books that "I pick up and I'm like, this isn't me. Right? I'm not that like military like, and "I don't mean that in a negative way. "I just mean like really strict. Like this is how it is, it's black and white, like, and so "I read some of those and I'm like, that's just, that's not really who "I am, right? And so I'm more of a like, let's sit down, let's chat, let's talk about it. Let's give leadership to these girls, right? And. Like they call that like the transformational leadership, right? And so like for me it's like it's super important that the girls see something that "I buy into otherwise, like we're all wasting our time And "I think it could really hurt the girls to just like pick a random book off the shelf and be like, Hey, let's read this. You know, Steve Jobs book on leadership or something. And I'm sure it's great, right? But like, if it's not, you "I think that they pick that out so quickly they know they're just experts at it. "I know "I "I. Think both of those were out "I. I'm reading this with all my coaches. So that was the other thing too, is like this, the culture system book that we're reading, the JP Neman one, "I gave that to everyone in our program, including our strength and conditioning coach, um, that our school employees. And so we're hopefully meeting every couple months or something to just like make sure we're all on the same page before the season with the culture stuff. "I, "I, I'm confident in our staff in terms of soccer, so I'm not super like "I mean. Part of that's "I the head coach to. Create a vision or whatever with like X's and O's. Um, but like for me it was my big goal for myself this year is to make this more of the kids. Um, "I feel like the last couple years, like I've taken on a ton of, of work with this, right? Like "I "I couldn't even tell you how many books "I read on leadership in the last two years or podcasts. And "I love it. It fuels me up, right? But "I think, "I need to, my goal for myself this year to borrow a metaphor for my friend back home at rolling. Like the reality is "I, it's the girls team, right? It's their team. What do you wanna do with this? And "I think, like he always said, like, Hey, you're driving the bus, you tell me where you wanna go and I'm driving the bus. Where do you want go? Right? And so like my challenge to my team this year and coaches is like, where do you guys want to go? And I'm gonna see my role as more of a, like facilitating and making sure they get there, right? If you wanna, you wanna treat people this way, then "I am gonna hold you to that standard, and I'm gonna help you get. Um, but "I don't want it to be as much my vision for it this year. Um, it just, it "I think that's the next step for our program with, with creating an even better leader is like, they always say like, okay, so if "I were to quit tomorrow, which I'm not, like, what would happen to the culture? Right? Like, is it sustainable without the leader? Right. Is it something that would last? Right. And so for us, like there had been so much winning before me that like the winning piece is sustainable here. Right? Like the girls, like "I don't have to like convince them that they can win, right. They kind of, not that they win every game, but like for the most part we, we win. You know, like they're a successful team in that regard. But like the leadership thing that "I really am tasked with this year, "I really wanna make sure this is the girls culture. Like what do you want? Right? And so that's kind of my challenge for them this year and what we will see how that goes. But you know, a little less me and a little more of them "I think is gonna be awesome for them and their.

Luke:

Yeah, there's no doubt that when kids take control of the experie, it's a, it's a more enjoyable experience and they end up getting the outcomes that they want anyway. But sometimes that could be frustrating as a teacher when you have a student led classroom as a coach. When you have a player led team, it could be frustrating because sometimes they lack depth and they lack vision. So they say things. "I wanna win state. Okay, how are we gonna do that? We have to work really hard. "I want us to give 110% and it's just like all these cliches that, you know, just lack that depth. So, you know, that's where "I think. As coaches, we have to. Provide the depth for them. And "I don't mean by giving them the answers, but we need to continue to challenge them. Just like when reading a novel, right? We have to have to get past the words and actually read between the lines and, and. that's something they struggle with so much, right? Like, well how did you know they said that? you get asked that all the time. Well, how did you know that's what that meant? Right? I'm like, well, you know, look at the clues around it and "I it is, it is frustrating. So "I applaud you and "I think you're doing it the right way. But "I guess I'm more voicing my own insecurities with what you're trying

Caleb:

Well,

Luke:

Cause "I definitely get frustra.

Caleb:

No, "I am too, man. "I, "I, "I. But "I also think like we're not just letting them like get into a boat. Figure out where they're going, right? Like we're gonna provide, like, so for example, like the girls are reading these books too, right? So the girls are reading stuff, they're gonna come up with like your vision, your mission. Like if they're, if they're saying like their goal for the year and that's all they got is to win state, like yeah it's a problem. Alright, let's revisit that chapter. What did it like, do you think the other teams in our conference don't wanna win state? Like "I don't know. Like, and "I think like that's an area for me, Luke, and as an English teacher, like those Socratic seminars that we do all the time, right? You listen to 'em and you just, and asking more thought-provoking questions, hopefully, like, really "I think we just didn't want it enough last year. "I think that's why we lost. Like, do you think that's why we haven't won a ton of championship? Do you think it's because we just didn't want it? Well, no. Of course they did. Right? Of course they did. You know, everyone does, right? So what's the missing ingredient? So "I think like "I. Don't know "I, mean "I use the, I'm hoping to use this tool with them in that regard of like, Hey, listen, you gotta like, you gotta own this, right? This can't be. My vision, it's gotta be like a shared vision with staff and you and like we will help each other along that thing.

Luke:

Absolutely. When you have coaches, players, and parents rowing in the same direction. Now you have a special team, and, and, and you're right, it takes a lot of luck to be the last one holding the trophy at the end. But if you do have those three entities working as one and having that true vertical alignment and you're gonna have one hell of a year. So "I hope that's the case for you. At, uh, at North Muskegon High School up in Michigan, which "I would be remiss not to bring up what happened between the Michigan State Spartans and the, and the Wolverines that end up working its way into the locker room. And there's some debate as to

Caleb:

That's culture, man.

Luke:

So who are you siding with on this one? "I. "I Done this one,

Caleb:

"I, "I, "I. See that as the culture. That's leadership. So "I mean? No. You know what, I'll tell you Luke, one thing I'll say, like I'm sure the Michigan dude sets it right, like I'm a Wolverine fan. You know, "I was at that game and I'm sure he said something. And one of the things, "I, wish we did a better. Listen, that's wrong, right? Violence is wrong, right? But what "I wish we had a little bit more of would be de praising those Spartan, like the Spartan players who went in there, pulled their guys out of a moment where they were, they lost it, right? Like, who are those kids that you see in the camera? Like of course you see the ones doing the violent thing, right? Like camera shows so much, but there's, there's players, not many, right? Cause "I think that we're in that bystander thing, right? Like if you see kids like going in there, pulling their teammate out when they're doing something dumb. Who is that kid? That's a captain, right? That's leadership right there. When like a crazy fight like that, "I mean like everyone's adrenaline's going. You see security guards and police officers like freeze too. And yet you see these like 18 year old kids there going, Hey dude, come on, come on, come on. Like man, that, that's something special, right? So "I "I do applaud those young men who did that. Um right. Obviously gotta

Luke:

I'll tell, I'll tell you what. "I heard Desmond Howard speaking about this fight and he brought up a great point and he said the adults failed the kids in this point or, and everyone's like, well, why would you say that? And he brought something "I didn't even think of. He goes, Who do you think was filming? Do you think the football players had phones in their, in their football pants that they pull out? Like those were adults filming rather than doing something and stopping that moment? So, yeah, like let's point out the positive in that moment that when adults should have been stepping in, being adults, there was "I know they're 22 year olds and that is kind of an adult, right? But you know, they were stepping in and yeah, they were trying to

Caleb:

How many, how many coaches you think, how many coaches you think a D one college program like that has?

Luke:

Oh yeah. There's gotta be, there's gotta be 15 to 20 guys on

Caleb:

And then grad assistant, right? "I mean. Right. "I mean you had that, so we'll say roughly 40 adults in that tunnel or should have been close to it. It it wasn't the adults helping out. Right. And so "I, "I hear that True Words by the by Desmond. Right? Yeah. That's awesome.

Luke:

you know, just gotta give another props to the wolverines there. So. Well, hey "I know you had a long day between, uh, teaching AP laying and then you had, probably a captain's meeting this afternoon and then you had adult soccer yourself, and then you have your own family. So, really appreciate you. Being so generous with your time and talking about your culture, talking about your program, and talking about, uh, your love of reading. Something that we b share together and hopefully that starts coming back into our culture, uh, in our whole society as well. So, "I, wish you a lot of luck this spring and "I, uh, hope you're able to host that trophy at the end because that is obviously something that we all wanna do as well. So best of luck and thanks for being on the "I Win podcast, which by the way, you post some other podcast on here, which is, "I expect you to be pub in the iron wind now.

Caleb:

do it. Let's do it.

Luke:

All right man. Best of luck, uh, in your upcoming

Caleb:

Yeah. Thank you.

Caleb Parnin Profile Photo

Caleb Parnin

English teacher at North Muskegon High School, located in Muskegon, Michigan. I have taught English for 15 years, and started coaching soccer in 2017. I currently coach the North Muskegon Girls Varsity team as well as two different teams for Lakeshore FC.