By Mike Machado ’86
Be the person you think others should be. That central message resonated during “Lessons on Leadership,” a symposium for coaches and parents held at Punahou School on Sept. 17, 2012.
The evening forum, which was free and open to the public, featured former University of Hawai‘i football coach Dick Tomey, UH softball coach Bob Coolen; Amy Nakamoto, executive director of DC Scores, a Washington D.C. after-school youth program; women’s distance running advocate Jacqueline Hansen; Jeremy Edwards, executive director of SportsChallenge Leadership Academy; and Bill Ferguson, men’s volleyball coach at the University of Southern California.
Each speaker shared unique perspectives on what makes a leader, and his or her own methodology for bringing out the best in young athletes and people in general. Hansen, a former world record holder in the marathon, distilled the tone of the evening when she asked, “Do you set the example of what you expect in others?”
Tomey and Nakamoto, a former women’s soccer coach at Bryn Mawr, each mentioned the importance of recognizing and capitalizing on “teachable moments.”
“Instincts determine if you are or aren’t a leader. You’ll need to go through critical situations to find out what kind of leader you are,” Tomey told the audience at Dillingham Hall. “If you can’t find a way to motivate your athletes, then you aren’t doing your job.”
Nakamoto spoke to “creating an environment where each athlete is challenged,” emphasizing that “every athlete can be improved or cultivated regardless of skill level” and no matter whether the team is winning or losing that season.
Coolen, Edwards and Ferguson engaged on the theme of group dynamics and setting the right tone.
“The success of our teams mirrors that of our team leadership,” said Coolen. Edwards observed that “the vibes we give off will impact the people around us because everyone matters, everyone is relevant.” Ferguson said, “it all begins with exceptional people. Find people with complementary skills. Not everyone is great at everything. Find and create people who fit into your puzzle.”
Oren Schlieman ’73 attended the forum as a parent and hopes there will be similar events in the future. The forum was sponsored by Punahou’s Athletic Department in coordination with the University of Hawai‘i Athletic Department, the Hawaii High School Athletic Association, the O‘ahu Interscholastic Association, the Interscholastic League of Honolulu, and the Hawai‘i Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.
“These are the kind of character discussions that are relevant and important to circulate, so I’d like to see it in a steadier pulse so it becomes a resource to help the community.”