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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • 'Old school' coaches definitely went too far

  • Not all “old school” coaches were apt to rule over their players with an iron fist.
    There were enough of them, though, and many former athletes have memories of severe punishment and questionable encouragement that would never fly today.
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  • Not all "old school" coaches were apt to rule over their players with an iron fist.
    There were enough of them, though, and many former athletes have memories of severe punishment and questionable encouragement that would never fly today.
    Jim Spartano, the former Utica College athletic director and a long-time coach, remembers the old days of the authoritarian coach who might give you a whack and maybe singe your ears with "colorful" personal invective.
    "It wasn't right, but we accepted it," he said.
    Spartano said he firmly believes everyone is looking for direction, that student-athletes want someone to push them.
    "But there is a line that you don't cross," he said. "It's not going to help the athlete. He's not going to play better because of that."
    Spartano said the coach who most influenced him as a player, coach and administrator was Don Axtell, his baseball coach at Oneonta State.
    "He never used a foul word, ever," he said. "He did it with leadership. He walked the walk."
    Tom Schoen, who will begin his 40th season as head coach of the Whitesboro Central football team, played for legendary coaches – Chiz Frye at Whitesboro and Jim Butterfield at Ithaca. They might not have been abusive, but they definitely were autocrats, and Schoen, a three-sport star in college, wanted to be like them when he began his head coaching career at age 23 at Dean Junior College.
    "When I first started coaching, I was Jim Butterfield, Vince Lombardi, Bear Bryant," he said. "Now, I listen better than I did. A successful coach has to be considerate of the whole student.
    "The biggest change is making the negative comments count, and making the positive comments outnumber them seven or eight to one."
    [Editor's Note: For more information on this topic see the Wednesday edition of The News Eagle.]

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