Interview with Coach Jim Tressel, Ohio State University (retired)

1. Why did you choose coaching as a profession?
     I had the good fortune of watching my Dad coach, and saw how much fun he had and the impact he made.

2. What is your primary goal as a coach? (What do you seek to accomplish?)
     To plant the seeds for each young person to be prepared to grow as a man of God and a responsible citizen.

3. How do you (as a coach) define success?
     If people define “what kind of person” I am by saying “he wins games but doesn’t do much else,” I have failed. If they describe our coaching staff the same way, we have fallen short. If they describe our players as people who got it done on the field but didn’t offer much back to the university, their community or the program, then none of us have been successful. If we lead efforts in community service and outreach, demand that our players do well in school and are well respected in the community, we have been successful as coaches. If our players are leaders in their work place, communities, and churches and so on, then they are successful. You can’t be measured simply by what you do on Saturday and use that as a barometer of success. If we have not planted that seed in our players and nurtured it, we have produced 15 – 20 “has-beens” every year. How can that be seen as successful?

4. What is most important to you as a coach?

5. What is the desired outcome for your players and staff?
     Reaching our full potential as individuals and as a team.

6. Who has most influenced you as a coach and why?
     My Dad …. He taught that it is most important to genuinely care!!

7. How has your personal relationship with Jesus Christ shaped you as a coach?
     Jesus has provided the road map for me personally and for our young people. All that I want to be is directed by Him.

8. How does your personal relationship with Jesus Christ affect the way you coach (practically/methods you use, etc.)?
     The beginning of all wisdom is the fear of (reverence for) God. He is directing and evaluating all of my thoughts and actions, on and off the field.

9. Is there a connection between your relationship with Christ and your ability to perform at an optimal level as a coach? Can you describe it?
     Christ has high expectations for us all …He demands excellence!!

10. How do you incorporate the spiritual aspect of your life into your football program?
     The top component of our “Block O of Life” is SPIRITUAL …we weave it in to all that we do and discuss.

11. Is the total transformation/development (mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual) of a player your goal?

12. How is the total transformation/development of your players accomplished within the program (i.e. chapel services, Bible studies, character education, community service, etc.)? 
     We have bible studies available, fellowship with AIA, FCA and Campus Crusade…..voluntary chapel opportunities.

13. What does your model (philosophy) of coaching look like?
     My father, a coach at Baldwin Wallace College, instilled something in me that has been the foundation of my coaching philosophy and that is, “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I have added the individual beliefs of many successful coaches I have encountered throughout my career to that philosophy foundation that have proven to be sound. I believe that building a culture where everyone in the program understands that the family (TEAM) can only progress with the presence of LOVE and RESPECT, and commitment to reaching our full potential. They must know that every action must be with the TEAM in mind, and unwavering loyalty to the TEAM must be built in, especially during the tough times. Fun will prevail for all, and there will be an absence of privileges for any individual. We know that “We will get as our works deserves.

14. Where did you get your model (philosophy) of coaching?
     A combination of things I learned from my Dad, the 4 head coaches that I worked for, the peers that I coached with, and the studying of many, many coaches.

15. In your opinion does the New Testament offer a viable model (philosophy) for coaching?
     Yes! Service, inclusion, sacrifice, struggles, lessons, etc.

16. If so, what does/should it look like?
     I think the answer can be found in what I previously described.

17. Is it possible that there is a crossover/connection with the methods Jesus employed to train the disciples and how a Christian coach trains his players for life (through football)? (Please answer and offer specific examples of methods you use)
     Yes. Again, like I’ve described already a coach can make a number of connections with how they coach and how Jesus led.

*This interview was prearranged and conducted via email in April of 2007.