Coaches adopt new “InSideOut” coaching philosophy


Nikki Suzani, Copy Editor

Written by Nikki Suzani

Within our school, it can often feel like the “win-at-all-costs” mentality transcends the core values we hold, obscuring the purpose of school activities and athletics. Principal Kathleen Laurence aims to change that culture by implementing the InSideOut Initiative for the 2018-2019 school year. InSideOut is a program penned by former National Football League (NFL) player Joe Ehrmann to allow athletes to grow as people and better themselves.

InSideOut asks coaches and students to focus on the questions: Why are we here, and what are we doing? The values are based on individual moral cores and creating some- thing greater, ultimately teaching athletes to be good global community members.

On Aug. 17, The Oracle held a press conference where Laurence described the program. According to Laurence, the InSideOut Initiative is being implemented into the Gunn athletics programs and beyond in order for teachers and students to be able to “re-find” their purpose. “InSideOut is education-based athletics where we place an emphasis on the learning kids are trying to do through their sports programs,” she said.

The implementation of the initiative requires the coaches to take into account what they learn from coaching videos and then try to use those ideas within their practices. “We, as a coaching staff, watch videos on the InSideOut Initiative in order to understand it better,” football coach Jason Miller said.

Miller was brought to Gunn specifically to partake in the program, and has been an integral part of improving school athletics departments before, as his philosophy fits well within the initiative and its goals. “My coaching philosophy is teamwork, togetherness, respect and family,” he said. “It’s all within the InSideOut Initiative.”

Rather than focusing on trying to win at all costs, this program focuses on building the character of the students and making them stronger team members. “We need to recognize the difference between a goal and [a] purpose,” Laurence said. “A goal could be winning, but there should be a bigger purpose behind it that guides you towards your goal.” Laurence believes that a purpose lives on forever and might change with growth over time, while a goal might not.

One of the biggest benefits Miller believes the program will have is increased practice attendance, because athletes will feel more valued and motivated to take control of their own learning. “The more togetherness and respect people have for one another, the more likely you’ll get student participation, and students will enjoy coming out for those sports,” he said.

Miller believes InSideOut also helps keep more students in football because it allows for students to feel more like a team and help out their teammates by getting them to show up to practice. “Due to InSideOut, the kids take ownership and [show] levels of respect; they hold each other accountable for showing up and for the actions they take,” he said.

Students themselves have seen the benefit of Miller’s coaching and his thorough use of InSideOut. “He definitely gets the kids more excited about football,” sophomore Jeffrey Maltz, a member of the football team, said. “I think one of the biggest issues is commitment, so being able to get kids to commit to this allows him to be a good coach.”

Laurence added that InSideOut reduces the stress in athletics because it’s no longer solely about winning, but also about learning about oneself, regardless of a team’s record in a season. This way, students can believe in themselves more, and feel better when they come out to play, translating onto the actual record. “When people are happy, they do better,” she said.

The football players’ reactions to the program have been overwhelmingly positive, with
many of them enjoying Miller’s teaching style. “I think [his coaching philosophy] makes sense and if he believes in it, he can make it happen,” Maltz said. “I honestly wouldn’t change anything about the way he teaches or acts towards us.”

Laurence hopes that InSideOut will transcend athletics and impact Gunn’s academic culture as well. By having all teachers attend workshops to re-evaluate and embrace their own reasons for teaching, she encourages them to reapply the values that caused them to pick up the job. “We had teachers write down their instructional purposes as a leader, and then as a teacher,” she said. “Hopefully, they will integrate those transformational purposes into their teaching and pass on that thinking to their students.”