Indiana high school coaches commit to character coaching over just winning

Colts general manager Chris Ballard inspired the crowd of over 200 coaches from over 60 high schools during his luncheon speech. (WTHR Photo/Rich Nye)
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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Hundreds of Indiana high school coaches met at the Colts complex Tuesday to take their focus off the scoreboard.

They still want to win. But they want their team's priority to be developing better people.

The coaches are committed to the InSideOut Initiative, a national movement to transform the win at all costs youth sports culture.

Colts general manager Chris Ballard inspired the crowd of over 200 coaches from over 60 high schools during his luncheon speech.

"Every day you show up no matter what happens, they're looking at you for leadership,” Ballard told the coaches. “They're young. They're impressionable and they need a positive impact."

Ben Davis High School brought several coaches to the program.

"Understanding that you still want to try to win but the grander scale and what's it's really for is to teach the kids these life lessons,” said Ben Davis boys basketball coach Don Carlisle.

"We can put students in a situation where they have to work with other people, they have to have a common goal that they're working toward,” said Jody Redman, InSideOut Initiative co-founder. “We can amp it up by putting people in the crowd and pressurize it. We can do all of that in a safe environment if the coach understands their role, which is to grow the human potential of kids."

During the four-hour seminar, coaches are challenged to create a transformational purpose statement that defines values they want to develop in their student-athletes. The focus is on character building and sportsmanship.

The IHSAA Foundation is one of the leaders in adopting the InSideOut Initiative for coaches. The national program is supported financially by the NFL Foundation, and in Indiana by the Colts.

On Monday, the IHSAA formally adopted a rule that any fan ejected from a game is now suspended for the next home contest, just like a coach or athlete. A second ejection would result in a suspension for the next home two games.

"If we're, as a fan, saying things we shouldn't be saying, jeering the other team on, yelling at referees, all those sort of things that we're really not looking for out of our fans, then our kids are going to turn out that direction as well,” said Ashley Hill, Cathedral High School Boys & Girls Swimming & Diving Coach. “So I think that it helps us as teachers, coaches and administrators to have those conversations with our parents and say, 'They're bringing in repercussions against you but what we really need is your support.’"

The IHSAA has also adopted a mercy rule for football, a running clock in the second half if a team is losing by 35 points.

"Nobody wants to embarrass anybody,” said North Central football coach Kevin O’Shea. “We don't want things to get out of hand. We want everybody to be able to walk off the field and feel like they competed."

O’Shea said the rule was probably a good thing. He said coaches and officials can help move the game along when the score is out of hand without a running clock. But he admitted that doesn’t always happen, so perhaps a mercy rule is necessary.

Once the running clock begins in a football game this fall, the only stoppages are for timeouts, scores or injuries. The running clock cannot revert back to standard timing.

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