Kurt Kreiter never planned to write a book several years ago when he started jotting down thoughts about coaching.
Asked some questions about coaching by a couple of former Central DeWitt High School athletes, Kreiter decided to start a data base of things coaches should think about. His thoughts grew and grew until he had about 200 pages of ideas.
“That’s when I thought maybe I should do something,” said Kreiter, a long-time coach at Central DeWitt and the current athletic director at the school.
He remembered that a former colleague who used to teach English across the hall from his room, Christine Gilroy, had helped some other authors in the area. So he went to her, and she helped him. The result is the self-published book “Become the Inspiration: Leadership Principles and Fundamentals for the Beginning Coach.”
While it’s a long way from making it to the New York Times’ best-sellers list, the book has received positive feedback.
“It’s really geared toward young coaches, new coaches and youth coaches,” Kreiter said.
But it’s also a book that might benefit athletes and their parents. Even business owners might learn some things about leadership strategies.
Thinking back to his early days in coaching, Kreiter said of his book: “Some of the things I would have gotten from it are insights on dealing with parents and program building. Things that I learned the hard way. There are probably many things a young coach might reflect upon and grasp how to approach things.”
But experienced coaches also might benefit from reading the book.
“I saw a quote recently that in essence said, the kind of coach you’ll become is what you learn after you know everything,” Kreiter said. “You’re always in the process of learning to be better.”
Kreiter calls on his experiences to relate various aspects of coaching.
“I think it’s one person’s view -- an average coach,” he said. “There are beneficial stories and philosophies that can help young coaches as they start in the profession.”
The roots for the book go back to Kreiter’s days in youth sports, as an all-state football player at North Scott High School and a starter on national championship football teams at Augustana College.
“I was lucky that I had so many positive coaches, starting with my dad and Tony Baker, my Little League coach,” Kreiter said. “They made me love sports.”
He has been impacted by coaches at every level, including Jeff Newmeister, Gary Olson and Randy Denner at North Scott, and the legendary Bob Reade at Augustana.
The coaching influences continued when he was hired at Central DeWitt, he said, mentioning Dwight Spangler, Pam Duncan, Jim Hetrick and Neil Padgett.
“I also was fortunate to have great role models when I got into coaching,” Kreiter said. “They were great coaches who did things the right way.”
Kreiter’s family also has served as a point of reference.
“My brother (Eugene, also a coach) and I had been talking about wanting to put together a presentation for youth coaches,” Kreiter said. Both Kurt’s children, Casey and Haley, and Eugene’s, Justin and Colin, had participated in a wide variety of sports. Casey plays in the NFL for the Denver Broncos, Justin was an NCAA Division III national runner-up in wrestling last year and Colin is a college baseball player.
Like coaches, parents have to help their children make the right choices, but some times the kids have to do it on their own, too.
“I know what it felt like when the kids came home and were complaining, but overcoming adversity is going to help them,” Kreiter said. “Jenny (Kreiter’s wife) and I complement each other in raising our kids. We have different styles, but the philosophy is pretty much the same.”
The same goes for coaching, as Kreiter points out in the book.
“One thing that probably stands out for me coming from a football and wrestling background is that those two sports are so much different from each other,” he said. “In football, you need one approach. But in wrestling, a lot of different styles is valuable to a program.”
Coaches play such an important role in the development of our youth, and Kreiter wants them to think about that.
“If I didn’t know me and read the book, (the takeaway) probably is my general philosophy of coaching all kids -- sports should be for everybody,” he said. “You make a huge impact on kids as a coach, and that can be good and bad.”
A read of the book might help all coaches to have a positive impact. That would benefit both coaches and student-athletes.
Jon Gremmels is sports editor of the Clinton Herald. He can be contacted at email@example.com