New Episodes Released Every Tuesday!
June 14, 2022

Football is a Part of Life, but Being an Educator is Life w/Bob Pieper

Football is a Part of Life, but Being an Educator is Life w/Bob Pieper

#45. Today we have on Bob Pieper, who has been in education since 1991, working first at Crete-Monee High School in Crete, Illinois, before coming to Glenbrook North (Northbrook, IL) in 1997, where he's been ever since.

Bob has done it all in education: Teacher, Dean, AD, Head Football Coach, assistant for wrestling, baseball, basketball, and track. Bob has been a featured speaker for the Illinois Athletic Director's Conference; the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association; and national Gatorade presenter. He is a two-time coach of the year honoree and in 2018 was inducted into the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

In this episode, coach is going to share the mistakes he has made, what the significant turning point was in his career, the biggest challenges facing teachers and coaches today and how we can overcome them, and finally coach will share his proudest moments and what legacy means to him.

To sign up for weekly notes from each episode, CLICK HERE.

Review The "I" in Win on Apple Podcast or my website to let me know what you think of the show.  Follow me on Twitter (@LukeMertens)

Transcript

Luke:

This is episode 45 of The "I" in Win podcast.

Bob:

The way you talk to me, the way you treat me, the way that you act, you act like I'm one of your kids. And when kids were telling me that I thought, okay, I must be doing something right. Or at least they know that I care.

Luke:

Hey, everyone. Welcome to another edition of The "I" in Win. The show that focuses on the journey rather than the outcome. Today we have on Bob Pieper, who has been in education since 1991, working first at Crete-Monee High School in Crete, Illinois, before coming to Glenbrook north in 1997, where he's been ever since Bob has done it all in education. Teacher, Dean, AD, head football, coach assistant for wrestling, baseball, basketball, and track. Bob has been a featured speaker for the Illinois athletic director conference. The national interscholastic athletic administrators association, national Gatorade Presentainer and Illinois high school football coaches association. He is a two time coach of the year honoree and in 2018 was inducted into the Illinois high school football coaches, associates. Hall of fame. In this episode, coach is going to share the mistakes he has made, what the significant turning point was in his career. The biggest challenges facing teachers and coaches today and how we can overcome them. And finally coach will share his proudest moments and what legacy means to him. Coach. Thanks for being on the show today,

Bob:

Thanks coach. I appreciate.

Luke:

let's start with the process of when you knew that you wanted to. Enter this profession. Was it something you always knew you wanted to do or did it just kind of fall into your lap one day?

Bob:

Yeah, it was really a great situation for me. Uh, my high school defensive coordinator was also a wrestling coach. Played at Purdue, played for the bears a little bit. Um, his name is Ron north. And it's funny because there's a trivia question out there who who's the last person that we're a number 34 on the bears before Walter Peyton came up and it was him. He was a full back out of Purdue and he played for the bears. And then Walter showed up and said, I won 34. But, Ron north was my weight training teacher, my PE teacher. He was a heck of a coach. And I kept saying, God, I think I, I think I want his job. I think I want to coach football. I want to coach wrestling. We're going to high school work with kids. And, he kinda talked to me about getting into the, into the business and that's kind of where I went in, in the college world and playing college football Benedictine, and it allowed me to study some more coaches. And then I decided to get my degree in education and start coaching right away.

Luke:

And once you landed that first job and you actually were in a classroom and you were in charge of coaching kids. What surprised you the most when you first started out?

Bob:

how much it changed in such a short time to be quite honest, you know, I was only five years out of college. And, as you said, I started at Crete Monee High School and I was an assistant for one year. And then at the age of 23, they offered me the head football coaching position. So my, my seniors were 18 and I was 23. And I'm trying to get that. trust me and listen to me and get on the same page with me. And, you know, I, I just couldn't remember when I was playing five years earlier, how much parents were involved. I know my parents weren't and I couldn't believe now as a 23 year old head high school coach, how many phone calls and emails and texts you are getting from parents. So that, that changed an awful lot in five.

Luke:

Yeah, that's, that's a common theme I hear from coaches that are guests on the podcast. And I do think it's a reality of parenting today. Although I will say, since I've entered this profession, I talked to my dad. I'm like, you know, it's just amazing. You never called my coaches and you know, we're sitting having dinner and he's like, ah, I gotta be honest with you. There was a couple of times I did make a call. Just didn't want you to know. So, so who knows maybe, maybe our, all of our parents were a little bit more, uh, communicative with our coaches and we just, we weren't aware, but like any other profession, sometimes you're just kind of thrown into the fire and you're going to make some mistakes. So tell us about a time you made a mistake as a young coach and what you learned and took away from that.

Bob:

right with what I just kind of talked about. I think when I first started, I was afraid of the parents. I kind of wanted to give them the Heisman and keep them as far away from my program as possible at 23. But you know, at 24, at 25, and even now into today, that. was a mistake. I needed to bring them closer to our program and get their support and buy in and have a relationship with them. And that changed right away. I knew right away my first year, instead of giving them the Heisman is I need them. They need me, we can work together to do what's best for our kids, their kids. And once I started those relationships with parents, everything changed. The buy-in was butter. The attendance at summer camp was. The just open lines of communication were better. And that was certainly a mistake I made my first year was not getting them involved more.

Luke:

So in addition to. Involving the parents into the program. Can you also think of a significant turning point in your career that really launched the success that you've had for all these years?

Bob:

Well, I think I would go back to relationships to be quite honest with you again, being 23 and those kids 18, and you know, every year after that, I knew that early, early on, I wasn't going to have to coach people. I knew that I was going to have to try and I'll work them and have my kids out, work them and buy into what we were putting in as a, as a scheme. So getting to know the kids more than just flipping. And have a relationship with them was huge for me, you know, I wanted to know what they did on the, on their free time or what they like to do play guitar or, you know, fish or anything like that, because then we had something else to talk about and it wasn't just football. And throughout the year I could see them in the hallways and talk to them. So I think building those strong relationships early on, it didn't matter what scheme I ran, because if they believed in me and I believed in them, we were going to be.

Luke:

Why is it important to be able to talk about things? Sport that you coach.

Bob:

Because it's not just about a football player. It's about the whole person, you know, our job as educators football. Football's a part of our life, but being educators are our life. That's why we went into teaching. So, you know, being able to talk to these kids on a different level than, oh, what'd you think of this player? We'll just see on film. There's gotta be more. And, and, you know, they always say. They don't care how much, you know, until they know much you care. I think that's a big reason is talk to them about something else. Right. They don't, they just want to talk football, talk about life, talk about other things. And, they get to trust you more. And that, that trust is a big part of that relationship building.

Luke:

I really liked what you said there, football's a part of what we do, but education is really what we're about, what we really do. And I try having that conversation with the kids that I coach as well as look football is just it's the platform, right? I mean, I think there's tons of life lessons, but it's really just part of the equation. And there's a larger thing to Raul trying to do. And that's a big part of what we're trying to get out within this podcast. So that's a great quote for all your listeners. You're going to see that pop up on my Twitter account. That's a, that's a phenomenal little soundbite that you put in there, coach, but let's talk about challenges that we're facing. what do you think are the biggest challenges that. A teacher, a head coach and assistant coach. You could pick which role or maybe it's all of them that they're facing right now. And how do they overcome it?

Bob:

I think first and foremost, parents are a great resource for us. And like I said, when you have those relationships, it's, it's really nice for both the kids and the coach, but there are certainly still some unrealistic parents that. I don't see what you see or they're not at practice every day. you know, not every kid's a starter, every kid has a role and we try to enforce that, you know, every, everybody has a role, so be great at your role, whatever it? is. Um, you know, if you're a starter, you gotta work really hard to keep that starting spot. And if you're a, a backup right now, push the starter and take their spot, but know your role. for awhile there, early on, again, some of the things I used to do that I would, that have changed, I used to try to make excuses of why kids were playing and things like that. And now I just flat out say the other kids better. You know, I'm not going to lie. I wish I could say something different, but that kids better in my job as the, put a good product on the, field and, get these kids ready for life and a lot of different ways. I think that it's really important. and the things we're going through are unrealistic parents who don't see what you see. And of course, I mean, I have three kids, you know, my daughter plays college softball. My son's gonna play college football. My other daughter played a couple sports. It's really important that we see the big picture and support the coaches anyway.

Luke:

So would you recommend that we're that direct with parents as well? Like you said, used to try to think of excuses now it's just, Hey, this person's better you that directly. As well.

Bob:

Yeah. I think it's really important to be honest. Cause I think they respect that, you know, they might not like the answer, but I think they'll respect the answer. Um, instead of, you know, there's too much gray area trying to make up things and you know, your son dropped four passes today. That's why I didn't play that. That's not true. There's just somebody that's better than him in front of him.

Luke:

Yeah. And that's one thing we're, I'm jealous of the wrestling coach or the track coach or the swim coach, because there's no subjectivity to those things. Right? So in wrestling, you have a wrestle off and track. You. The, the stopwatch at practice. And he could just say, look, here's the reality. This kid is better than your kid football. There is a little subjectivity to it. it's just the reality of it. And like you said, parents aren't at practice. So speaking specifically to football, how do you verbalize better? Because that's pretty nebulous. Like, so how do you say to help the kid and the parent understand that the other player is better? I don't know, at least I find it kind of tough to give a tangible example of something.

Bob:

Yeah, it's not, it's not easy. It's again, it's not cut and dry all the time, but I think that as, you know, as well as anybody, being a successful head coach, one of the. Things we do is put the puzzle together, right? So this kid who was the starting split end for since eighth grade or seventh grade or sixth grade might not be your split end when they're on the varsity. So we need to work with them all through their four years and say, Hey, you know what, let's try flanker or let's try DB. Let's try a place any way to get you on the field. So I do talk to parents and I say that, you know, player X is better than player Y but Hey, let's, we're going to try it. You know why it's something. else. And we're going to see if that helps. And, you know, we're, like I said, we're putting the puzzle together, moving people around all the time. So at least they see that we're not just, you know, saying you're the third kid in line. So forget you were going to try someplace else with you and see if we can get you on the field.

Luke:

So what do you do in those moments that you kind of feel. Stuck, maybe a little loss that I mentioned before we hit record that sometimes being a head coach, it's a pretty lonely seat at the table. So what do you do in those moments? That things just aren't going right? Maybe you have parents that aren't supportive. Maybe your best players are injured. Maybe you have kids that just aren't buying in. So how do you help yourself get through those tough moments when you're really feeling stuck as a head.

Bob:

Yeah, I think, uh, and it's a great point because we've been there. You've been there. I've been there. I think the biggest thing is we haven't done this by herself, even though the wins and losses go on our name and our record. things like that, you know, you pointed out, I was lucky enough to be put in a hall of fame in 2018, but I didn't accept that from, for me. I accepted it from my assistance, the parents who bought in the kids who have played for us, the administrators above us. So for me to get through that, its assistance helped me through that. And we sit and talk and say, you know, I like to reflect all the time. What have I done wrong? What have I done? Right. What do you think I should try different. I want my assistants to talk to me and tell me, you know, where we're at. I don't want, yes, men. I don't want, yes. People. I want people to tell them. You know, Hey, try this or try that. And I'm always looking to get better. I've I've I mean, listening to podcasts like yours or reading books or videos, that's what helps me get through. and then, you know, to be quite honest with you, I've been doing this so long when the kids come back and see me and thank me, or I get to go to their weddings or their, you know, they have a baby and they send me their stuff. I think that really, really puts icing on the cake for me saying, I think I did something.

Luke:

Well, let's talk about that assistant piece. And there's a delicate balance as a head coach, because ultimately you have to make decisions as the head coach, but you also want to promote. If you want to promote their ownership of the program. So how do you create that balance of, I'm the head coach. I'm going to make this decision, but I want you, like you said, to not just be yes, men.

Bob:

Yeah. I encourage them to bring stuff to me all the time. So if they have ideas, bring them to me and they know upfront again, we're, we're loyal to each other. We trust each other. It's bring me your ideas. And I might say. And I might say yes, and I really appreciate that, but be prepared for me to say no, if I don't think it's going to work, you, you might want to run a play or do something and I'll say no, but I don't micromanage. I have, I haven't been a micromanager on any of the positions that you talked about. as a head coach and assistant coach and ADI, I'm not a micromanager. I want people to work through. Their own stuff and I will help them, get through it. We used to have a saying when I was the ID here. Um, and obviously as you know, you know, I follow Jim blocks so that wasn't easy, you know, he was a pretty darn good Ady here. but I used to tell our coaches all the time, um, if you get out, coach learn from it, but if you get out work fix it. So, that was our attitude going in with all of our coaches. And that's the way my coaches are here. I encourage doing something new. Like we have our every day is like you do. I mean, we were going to do these drills every day, but I want a new drill every day. I want the kids to have fun. I want them to find something new. And then as soon as practice is over telling me how it went was that new drill good was a not good. Let's throw it out. Let's go. And what do you think I did today? How did I do today? And I ask all the time, I'm, I'm thick skinned. I can handle a few things, or my coaches think I should do something different. And I think, you know, if we're making decisions on what's best for kids and our practice plans or what's best for kids, I'm all for it. If it's something that I have.

Luke:

Yeah. Yeah, that's really good stuff. I know. We talked to them. Kids, Hey, be coachable. And I think as a head coach, we have to model that same advice and we have to be willing to take some criticism from our assistance and learn from those moments because they're seeing things that maybe we wouldn't even realize that we're doing. So that's really, really good stuff. Let's talk about staff continuity. We talked before we hit record, we're losing a lot of good coaches, both head coaches and assistant coaches. So to all of our head coaches out there to our listeners, how do they keep their staff together? Because it's a lot of hours and sometimes there's not a lot of thank yous. You don't get those wedding invitations and those pictures to 20 years down the road. So how do you keep coaches engaged? Because we're losing a lot of good.

Bob:

Yeah, I think, first of all, you got to make sure your input, your assistants feel important. They're not just, you know, you tell them what to do all the time and they just go do it. They gotta be part of the plan. They gotta be part of putting together your offense or defense, your practice plans, how we attack other opponents. And I think that, you know, you and I have talked about this a little bit. I think that, we have to have build our. You know, we need to get together more. I know there's retired coaches that get together and reminisce and talk football still. And I don't think we rely on each other. We're afraid to, to give up stuff. When we meet as coaches, you know, I, I would love to sit down with you and four other coaches once a month and say, Hey, let's talk football or let's talk situations we've been through. And I think assistance need that. I think assistance if they could have some, some more mentorship or times to get together because you see it at conventions, they know we go to the state convention or out of state clinics and conferences. People are sitting there at tables with sweet and low in sugar and your offense, your defense, and they're doing stuff on the table or writing stuff on papers. We don't do that enough. And that's how we can keep them involved more is let them be part of it. Let them feel important and help mentor them.

Luke:

Yeah, it's funny. We do all think that we have some secret sauce that we don't want to give up to anybody else. When in reality, we all are kind of doing the same thing. We may have different sayings or a different approach in practice, but we really are doing the same thing. We all want The. And that is producing better people, we want to create better people for being involved in our program. So here you are, how many years and you started in 1991, I believe is when you started your career. And here we are in 2022, reflecting back. What have you learned from this long and productive and successful career in education? How has it made you a better.

Bob:

You know, it's funny because I grew up in the south suburbs and I coach in the south suburbs and when I came north, they were all like, oh, it's So different up there. and it is a little different, I mean, resources and things like that are different, but people are people. kids are kids. And, you know, I, I said this phrase a little bit earlier. I think if you make decisions on what's best for kids, you're going to be a good educator and a good coach. And you just need to remember that this is about the kids. It's not about us. And sometimes we get caught up in, and rightfully so because sometimes, you know, you get a lot of parent pressure community pressure. The administrative pressure that you got to win, win, win, win, win. But I think if you do all the little things, right, the winning is going to take care of itself. So I really truly believe that every day you got to go out there and say, you know, what's best for kids. And I'll give you an example. Like when I first started, you know, if kids were kids were late, I would just jump them. I mean, I didn't even know the reason. Right. So some of the ways I've changed are I asked now why, why are you late? Or is there anything I can do for you? certainly, when we first started, when I first started, it was all about X's and O's, it's not even close to that anymore. You know, you and I, and all the other head coaches were psychiatrists, psychologists, sometimes parents, to these kids and they need us. So, I've changed the way that I approach kids. And I actually treat them like young adults, not just football players.

Luke:

So two things you said in there, I want to go back to one was south suburbs up to the north shore and oh, it's going to be so different, but you learn, people are people. I had a similar experience. I grew up on the south side of Chicago. And then in high school, I moved to the north side of Chicago and I thought my world was coming to an end because my whole life, all I learned is that the north side was the devil. So I was like, oh my gosh, what's going to happen. So I, uh, get to the north side and I realized, man, there's really no difference. Now the south siders will never admit that nor will the north siders. But I, I lived in both and I could tell you it's, it's absolutely no different. And. And I think it was 2004, I really took a leap of faith. And I actually left the city and became a suburbanite, which I never thought I would do. And it was all the way up in lake county. I mean, I was approaching packer land. It was really scary for me and all the guys from the north side Anasazi were like, oh man, you can't raise your kids in the suburbs. Uh, it's never going to work and it's going to be so. It's the same thing. And I think the kids I coach up in lake county, the kids I coached on the south side at Saint Rita kids. I coach on the north side of St. Pats, it's it's the same. And these kids crave discipline. They crave someone to care for them. They want someone just to say hello and high five them in the hallway, rather than just constantly grinding on them. Like you said, like, why were you late? And things like that. Absolutely kids are kids, and we all need to remember that rubber at and under different circumstances, right? We're going to, you're dealing with things different at north than, someone at Creek Moni is dealing with, but in reality, the kids all want the same things and that's us to care for them. Let's talk about Jumping on kids when they're late. The other thing I've noticed too, because I did the same thing. Oh, you're late. And I would just start like up Downing the whole team. And I never thought of asking why. And one thing I found in asking why, and I don't know if you seen the same thing. Kids are honest. Like I've had kids just tell me, coach, I'm not going to lie to you, man. I, I was just kind of being lazy and I'll take whatever punishment you have for me, or they'll tell you, I had to go meet with the teacher because I missed an assignment. And they're usually pretty honest about it. I haven't seen a lot of kids lie to me. If you notice.

Bob:

you're a hundred percent accurate. And that's why I think that was something that we should all do instead of just, like you said, doing the up-downs right away and not finding out, but they will tell you. You know what I, woke up late or, you know, I had a kid tell me that my grandma just passed away 15 minutes ago, but I didn't wanna miss practice. I mean, if I didn't know that I would have treated him differently probably. And, just like, you know, all your leads to bad, but I think it's really important to find out more about these kids. And, you know, I think socially, emotionally, all those things have changed so much for us over the years. we know we need to just pay attention to that more with these kids and, and have open conversations with them. I love talking to kids before practice while they're stretching, walking around and talking to them. I love to talk to them after I'll stay around after and talk. And again, it doesn't have to be just football. Tell me something else or come tell me in school, what happened over the weekend or what you did great, or what had something good about your family? I want to know all that, and I think that's a huge part of how we as head coaches need to grow and have.

Luke:

So, and I don't know if you could quantify this, but this is something I struggle with. I've gotten really good with having that conversation of why are you late? Why'd you miss that assignment? Why did you disrespect a teacher? And I think that really develops relationship with the kids that you coach. They really appreciate the fact that you just hear them out. However, when do you think it's time to talk less and maybe there is going to be some punitive consequences behind their act.

Bob:

I still think we need to do what we're supposed to, because like I said, you know, we're helping them become, responsible young adults. So we need to hold them accountable, responsible. you know, all those things that we're trying to teach to them, we don't give up. we've got to make sure that they are held accountable for their actions. And they get in trouble at the Dean's office and obviously the football coach is one of the first ones to find out, we deal with it still. And, punishments are still punishments. If they're suspended for a game or they're sitting out half or whatever, we still have to hold them accountable. Cause we're, that's what we're doing is making them better.

Luke:

So you've referenced the fact that you have kids that played sports. I too have kids that play sports and I've always said, it's the greatest coaching clinic I went to was being a parent of a young athlete. It's really opened my eyes to a lot of things. How has being a parent of athletic kids yourself? How has that made you a better coach? What did you learn that process of looking through the lens of.

Bob:

Well, my wife will be happy that I'm saying this, but it taught me how to. Because, you know, usually we're the ones making the decisions and doing most of the talking at a practice or at a clinic, a rubber rat when I was watching my kids. And it was, as it is for you, it's one of the greatest things you could ever go through as a parent. But everybody in the bleachers expected me to talk or say something or second guess a coach. When I never, I really never did. I sat there really quiet. I listened. I observed. And then, you know, if we had to have some conversations at home because my daughters or my son wanted to, I was. But I was also, I knew the importance of that car ride home when they were younger. And, did you have fun? I didn't talk about a play. I didn't talk about, do this, do that. I learned all those kinds of lessons about, let them be kids and let them learn for themselves. And it really taught me to listen and not have to talk or say something all the time. I'm not, I don't need to be in charge of. it.

Luke:

Did you have any moments where you felt like you needed to advocate for your son or your daughters? And he had to call the.

Bob:

I did, with one of my daughters over some situations where there was just a coach who really didn't know what they were doing. It was a parent coach who just, you know, it was just. we're grateful that this person wanted to put her time in, but she wasn't very good at it. And it was showing, and I just said, listen, I do this for a living. I'm not calling to complain, but if there's any help I can give or some ideas, I'll be glad to. And, she actually took that advice and I, we talked once every week about just different things. And, um, it wasn't even a sport that I coach very often. It was just, how do you deal with kids and how do you make it fair for kids? And how do you have fun with the kids? That's kind of what it was.

Luke:

I'm sure you coach, at one point, as I said in your introduction, I think you've coached every sport. There is. So I'm sure you have some experience with that, but have you also noticed, and this has just been my experience and I'm not complaining about it. I just find it interesting. When I go to my kids' sporting events, I noticed that sometimes people try to engage with. And what I would say negative conversation about what's happening on the field. Like, Hey, you're a coach. You wouldn't do it that way. Would you? Or, Hey, what do you think about this? And I'm just, Hey, I'm just here to watch watching my kids compete. that's really all I want to do. Have you had a similar experience where people try to engage in an agric conversation or maybe it's genuine? I just want to get your opinion on things and what do you do in those situations?

Bob:

Oh, yeah, it's happened many times. Like I said, I had, at one point I had three kids who played three travel sports each. So, you know, we had nine travels wars going on, my wife and I never saw each other. We were just splitting and conquering. Uh, but That situation happens all the time, because I think that those parents that are having a problem or have, some things they wanted to complain about, if they can get somebody who does that. as their profession on their side, then it might go a little bit longer or they can say, well, even, coach so-and-so said yes to this, or they agreed with me. So yeah, we just got, you know, you don't take the bait, you just kind of say, sorry, you're going through that. But, uh, you know, I don't, I don't see that. Or it's not really affecting me the way it's effect.

Luke:

Let's talk about the role of head coach. What do you think? And it doesn't matter. The sport just globally as a head coach, what do you think people misunderstand the most about us as head coach?

Bob:

that's a really good question. Um, I don't think people understand how much time and effort you actually put in, in your sport. they see you on the field for a couple hours or in the court for a couple of. But they don't see what you do at night when you get home all weekend long, for example, for us, and again, it doesn't matter what sport, but for you and I Sundays are pretty much watching film and breaking down stuff or meet with coaches or whatever we're doing. They don't understand that we're, we're giving up our family. To take care of their families or their kids. and they take it for granted a little bit. I think they don't just, they just don't see how much we do. Cause football season is not just football season anymore. It's year round, it's summer camps, it's, seven on seven stuff. you're, you're giving up your own family time. And I think they know that you do that, but they don't know how much your.

Luke:

I know you've been really involved in the coaches association. So to that point that the season has the longer the season and it's happening really in all sports. Do you think this is a good thing or you, you think that we need to press pause and kind of take a look at how we're approaching these sports and maybe it's becoming almost too perfect.

Bob:

I think it's getting out of control in some sports. I don't think we're at that point yet. as you know, we're, you know, not having spring ball kind of puts us behind the eight ball a little bit compared to other states. But I think that some sports are out of control there. doing their sport all year long. And I think that's crazy. I think that kitchen joy as many sports as they want, and we as head coaches should all support each other and we want them to compete. So I'm fine. If they compete in basketball or wrestling or track or baseball or lacrosse, or just compete, have fun, play multiple sports, especially on the early age, I'm really concerned about how that's going down to the. Level right now. And they want these kids to play your own basketball or your own lacrosse or something like that, let them play and then let them want to get the high school, figure out where you want to continue playing. But yeah, I think, I think The trickle-down is terrible. That specialization that shouldn't happen. I know there's some sports have to, maybe you're a really good tennis player, a swimmer or whatever, and that might be year round, but a lot of these sports, it should not be special.

Luke:

The other thing you mentioned a couple answers ago was talking about knowing your role on the team. Have you noticed that kids are, and I think this kind of plays into the specialization, at least in my theory, kids aren't as accepting of the role. Like if they're not the starter, they're like, I'm out. I'm going to just go focus on this sport. Have you seen that as well? That kids aren't as accepting of just, Hey, this is my role and I'm good with it.

Bob:

Yeah. And I think that's why all of us, you know, and I know that you're, you're building that program again right now, but I think there's a big drop-off between the ones in the twos, because the twos are starting to quit because they're not a one, So you used to have the ones and twos battling all the time, but you know, the kid who was a backup, they might be like, what you just said and say, I'm done. Forget it. I'm going to go do something else. And now you got ones in three. and the threes are probably those kids that, and four is know their role and they're okay with their role. Some of them might be resume builders and some of them really just want to be part of a team and need us more than we need them. But they're great to have on the team. Cause that's what makes your team. But yeah, I think those, those kids that aren't starters that think they should be, they give up on it. too soon and the.

Luke:

how do you ignite the fire in the twos to not just wave the white flag and to stay in battle for that starting point?

Bob:

that's where I think that we use competition to our advantage. You know, you were talking earlier, it was a great point about the S the sports that have stopwatches or a clock that you can watch, and everything is right there for you, or you rustle off and the winter winds, and it goes on for us. We need to come, we need to compete. We need to make practice, competition, everything we do needs to be competition. And. And then it'll show the twos that they're either twos or guess what? Hey, you just became a one So good for you And like I said earlier, we push all the time every day. If you're a starter work hard to keep that spot. But if you're a two, you better take that starter spot and we're going to do everything. We can, again, to have fun and competitive practices and events where we can just say to them, well, we just did five things this week and you didn't win. One of them were, it proved that this is why you're still where you're at. So keep going, keep working harder and take that.

Luke:

you mentioned you're a really reflective person and I am as well. And I think we could really learn from those moments of being honest with ourself. And the last couple of questions I want to just start thinking about your legacy and reflect back on your career. What was the best compliment you've ever received?

Bob:

when, some of my players have called me their second. and, and it started with, I love my father. He's my idol. He's, he's somebody I look up to. It's not that I don't have a father or anything like that, but the way you talk to me, the way you treat me, the way that you act, you act like I'm one of your. kids And when kids were telling me that I thought, okay, I must be doing something right. Or at least they know that I care. And that's, again, I don't ever go into a game saying I'm an out coach, this person, that person, there's great coaches out there. As you know, you've played in different leagues at different plays. There's great coaches. I just want my kids to play as hard as they can have fun and all the little things we'll take care of the big things. And when somebody told me that, you're like a father figure to me that meant the most.

Luke:

Yeah, that's really powerful stuff. And that's really, in my opinion, our role as a coach is to coach each one of those players as if they are our own child. Let's talk about. I know you're walking towards the retirement of your, of your career here. So how do you want to be remembered?

Bob:

I want to be remembered for just helping. not just the kids, but everybody around me. There's a lot of people at Glenbrook North that I hired in the P department or health and driver ed department as coaches. I want to just, be somebody that they look back and say, you know, Bob really helped me. He helped me when I needed there. He was there to listen. He was there to help me through tough times. And we've all been in, you know, in schools long enough where there's a lot of tough times, you know, we lose a family member, we lose a kid. and we all need each other. So I think if people could come to me in those situations And I'm there for them, that's a really all, I, I think I've left this place a little better than when I got.

Luke:

And reflecting back on all these years that you've been working with. Our kids today really different or at their core are kids, just kids. And maybe just the times.

Bob:

I think the times. are different. I think it's a great way to put it. I think kids are kids and they still want everything that we talked about on this podcast, but the times are different. I think some of the stuff they see in the program is trickling down to the college game, trickling down to the high school game and it's. You know, I always tell our kids jokingly put watching TV, unless you're just going to get better. Right? If you want to watch how plays are run and how schemes are run and stuff and get better that we find. But when you score a touchdown act like you've been there before hand the ball to the official and walk off, you don't need to do a dance. You don't need to put your hands up. Don't need to kick the ball in the Bleacher, in the stands. some of those things that are coming down and. Our society is not a great one right now, unfortunately, and people aren't treating people with respect and, I don't want that to ever happen to any of our teams or any of our kids. anybody that treats people poorly or off my list right off the bat. So, if I see that you won't play for me. so I think society is changing too much, but kids are still kids and they need us.

Luke:

So, how do you hope to impact our listeners majority of the listeners of this podcast are teachers, coaches, or in some type of leadership role. What do you want them to take away from this episode? How, how do you want to impact.

Bob:

I think that, uh, one of the most important things isn't, you know, this is when Jim block and I go out and do some leadership stuff. We always talk about changing your. I think it's really important to change your lens and see it from the other person's viewpoint. When you're having a conversation, don't just load up and have your answer. Ready? Listen, listen to them, listen to your kids because as we talked about earlier, they're they usually don't lie to you. They might once in a while. It depends on who it is, but, they need somebody to listen to them and show them that you're there for them. Adults as well. So I think all the coaches, you know, made a, we made a lot of great points here and a lot of your podcasts have great points. I listed a bunch of them, but I think that coaches can learn a lot by listening to these podcasts, listening to coaches that have been there, done that, especially the younger ones, but you don't have to be a bull in the ring. You can certainly be a human being and treat kids with dignity and respect. You don't have to be, you know, when I first started coaching, yelling was the thing, I mean, louder. If you're louder, you're, you know, they'll listen to you. That's.

Luke:

Yeah, right.

Bob:

That's not true. And that's okay to high-five, you know, all the kids that have ever played for me know that I'm going to be the first one I five. Yeah. And I'm also going to be the first one to tell you you did something wrong. So just be prepared for That but my goal is that you're going to be a great person later in life because I'm probably, I could see a plane on Sunday. So I'd rather see you working Monday through Friday and doing things.

Luke:

That yelling thing is such a common theme. I hear amongst experienced coaches. I hear it all the time that when I first started out, I was a young. And as I went throughout my career, I learned that that's not really coaching. That's just showing the, showing your players that you lose control and you lack discipline at times. And I find it interesting, cause I think what that speaks to, and I'll let you comment on this in a minute. I think that speaks to how we were coached. I think we probably were coached through a lot of yelling and we tend to coach the way we were coached. What are your thoughts?

Bob:

I agree, a hundred percent back when we played yelling was the thing. And it was like, everybody, you didn't have good cop, bad cop, everybody yelled, you know, and we were to respond to that. Well, not every kid responds to yelling right now, and I do believe, parenting has also helped us in that role. Right. You don't have to yell at your kids at home all the time. You can have a conversation with them and they still get the point across. They get the message. So why not do that with your kids that are on your team, right? If you treat them like they're your kids, then you don't have to yell all the time. You can, you can raise your voice. And I think the tone is important. They get the message by your tone. I also think, that, you can be really close to a close talker or grab them and say, Hey, listen, here's, here's what we need to do to fix. In a different way and they still get the same message. So, again, I think parenting has really helped us because you're not sitting at the kitchen table. You don't let your kid every night. Are you, so why do you have to do that on a practice field? so I can, I kinda think that that's really important and That's probably why the, the older veteran coaches are saying, I don't yell as much anymore. One because they've learned they don't have to. And two, cause if their parents weren't.

Luke:

That's a great point about how we talk to our kids at the dinner table in closing. I know you're, about to leave the profession. You've done it all. As I referenced an internal. What's next for you? Do you plan on still staying on as an assistant coach? You plan on just going to be a spectator and watch games. You're going to be a mentor for coaches. What's what's next for you.

Bob:

I would do any of those. Um, I get really bored, really fast. So like even on weekends or when we're offered a winter break or something on board. So I need to do some. Uh, luckily I'm only going to be 55 when I get out. So I'm a young retiree in two years. I want to help. I want to mentor. I want to still speak and help coaches any way I can. I might still coach. I'm not sure. I might go into a different realm of some way to help. but I will stay busy somehow. And you know, if the right spot opens up for me coaching, even if it's not here, I still want to learn. So I'm really, you know, I've been a head coach, almost my whole career. Luckily right now with, you know, Matt pretty being our new head coach. I get to learn from him a little bit, but I wouldn't mind even going someplace else and learning and trying to help out there. Cause I think that that would be good for me going forward.

Luke:

Well outstanding. If you ever want to come down to the city and be a part of my staff at St. Patsy, you let me know a good experience in the, in the Chicago Catholic league, which is unique upon itself, but thanks so much for being on coach. I really appreciate it to all of our listeners. I will have all of coach's contact information. His Twitter handle is email that will all be, in his biography. That will be linked to the show notes and encourage our listeners to listen out. Because as you can see. Coach's a wealth of information and truly wants to help the next generation, of us there in the profession. So coach with that, thanks so much for being on the show today. I really appreciate it.

Bob:

Thanks coach. I appreciate you having me.

Bob Pieper Profile Photo

Bob Pieper

Administrator/Coach

BOB PIEPER
ADMINISTRATOR
INSTRUCTIONAL SUPERVISOR
FORMER HEAD FOOTBALL COACH
GLENBROOK NORTH HIGH SCHOOL - NORTHBROOK, ILLINOIS

Bob Pieper came to Glenbrook North in 1997, after serving as the assistant athletic director and head football coach at Crete-Monee High School, in Crete, Illinois (1991-1996). At Crete-Monee High School, Bob was a teacher, dean of students, assistant athletic director, head football coach, assistant wrestling coach, assistant varsity baseball coach, and assistant track coach.

Since arriving at Glenbrook North High School, Bob has been a teacher, dean of students, assistant athletic director, athletic director (2000-2005), instructional supervisor for physical education, health, and drivers education, assistant varsity basketball coach, assistant varsity baseball coach, head football coach for 19 years, and now an assistant varsity football coach.

In 1997, Bob helped develop and coordinate the Peer Mediation Program through the dean’s office at Glenbrook North to help students mediate problems between their peers. Bob is also the District 225 Administrative Liaison for the Glenbrook Aquatics Swim Club.

Bob has been a featured speaker for the Illinois Athletic Director Conferences, the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association, National Gatorade Presentations, Illinois High School Football Coaches Association, and numerous high school and youth sports banquets.

Bob was the President of the Central Suburban League Football Coaches Association for 15 years.

Bob was honored in 1996 with the Coca-Cola Football Coach of the Year Award, as well as the Daily Southtown Newspaper Football Coach of the Year Award. Bob was Inducted into the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2018.

He received his bachelor degree from Illinois Benedictine College in Physical Education with a minor in coaching, his master’s degree in Physical Education from Chicago State University with a minor in Drivers Education, and School Administration degree from Governors State University. Bob and his wife Jill have three children, Nicole, Brooke, and Jake.