Coaching A Family
Posted by: Matt Gaschk
Sounders FC broadcaster and former Seattle U coach Pete Fewing recently published a book about successful leadership techniques.
There are lawyers, teachers, doctors and dentists. There has been a few to go on to play as professionals, but only one can still call himself a pro soccer player. Regardless of where they ended up, though, they always come back.
That was the nature of Seattle University soccer when Peter Fewing was at the helm.
When he took over the team, they had nine consecutive losing seasons. Under his watch, they fielded a Rhodes Scholar and had a near-100 percent graduation rate. All while developing two National Players of the Year and winning National Championships in 1997 at the NAIA level and 2004 as an NCAA Division II outfit.
All with the family environment that not only made the teams successful, but also made the athletes great individuals who went on to personal success, regardless of the field.
Those leadership skills and techniques are the basis of Fewing’s new book, authored by Fewing and former assistant coach Herbert L. Hoffman. However, “Coaching Principles for the Development of Championship Teams: On and Beyond the Pitch” is not about one of the most successful coaches Seattle sports has seen. Instead each player tells the story of why the team was successful.
“What is really rewarding is to pick it up at any time and read the stories. There are so many great stories in there,” Fewing said.
Fewing prides himself on several things about the book. First and foremost is that it wasn’t his idea.
Co-author Hoffman was an assistant coach with Fewing, but there was much more to his story than that or his over 20 years with Boeing.
“Many of the things that highlight Herbie’s life, people would hang their entire life on,” Fewing said.
Hoffman was a West Point graduate, an Army Ranger and a bronze star recipient. He stood on the Berlin Wall when it came down and once led 90 men into war during Desert Strom and got all 90 men out.
Four years ago, Hoffman called Fewing from West Point to tell him that the leadership style they employed with Seattle U was better than the leadership at West Point. His dissertation was about the leadership style at West Point, interviewing former West Pointers and he thought it would be a good way to tell the story of their two championships and guide others in leadership techniques.
To do this, they asked players from the two championship teams four questions: What was the team all about? Why did we win? What did you learn from the program that you use in your life today? What story embodies your time at Seattle U?
The answers to those four questions made up the 99-page book.
The book is not just for athletes though.
“It suits anybody who is in a leadership position,” Fewing said. “For a coach, it will be stories that they’ve experienced themselves, but they’re going to hear it from a player’s perspective. They will understand why something works, whether they have done it as a coach or not. As a parent of an athlete, it can help you know what you need to look for in a coach.”
At Seattle U, that meant you were part of a family.
It sounds like a Disney story the way players bonded so much, but in reading the stories you find that it really is the truth.
“The program was about family. And I was blessed enough to be the dad,” Fewing said. “I talk to a Seattle U player almost every day. Who they are when they leave is so much fun. When I was coaching there, they always came back. Whether it was just for a cup of coffee or for a game. Coaching is such a moral endeavor. Once you played at Seattle U, you were expected to come back - not give back, but come back.”