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Schools of thought: Coaching and teaching

Mark Sahli

There is a saying that goes something like this, “Those who can’t do, teach or coach.”

I ask all of you to sit back in your chair, car, or wherever and think of who your favorite or most influential teacher, coach or adviser or mentor would have been over the years.

One particular coach in high school and one particular teacher also in high school come to mind immediately. Never once did I think about how bad either of these two individuals were, but rather how great I thought they were and how much I liked both.

West Fargo schools continually are growing and new schools are being added into the landscape and along with them the need for more coaches and teachers. Will all of the new coaches and teachers be great and influential or will there be some who are not? We have seen some long-time coaches recently retire from the ranks and many new coaches coming on board.

I wonder what the new coaches and teachers thought processes are as they enter the field. I also wonder what the schools of thought are of those leaving the ranks.

Having taught in the military and coached in differing sports, I have had the pleasure of working with many great young men and women and trying to think of those not so great are hard to come up with, parents included.

Enter into the mix parents and the school of thought changes. As a parent you always want what is best for your child, but sometimes this can get out of control. If I had a magic shaker, I would like to sprinkle it on all kids so that they would take classes and do extracurricular things that their parents would have no knowledge of. The parents would sit back and just watch, cheer and encourage their children. I have seen this in some recent coaching I have done. It has been great.

In the most recent news involving one of West Fargo’s own teachers, I can without question say this teacher had a profound impact on one of my sons and I am saddened that my other son and so many others might not get the opportunity to be taught by a teacher of this caliber in the future.

So many coaches also get bombarded by things that might seem more important to the parents than they do to the student or athlete.

There is far too much more to write about this topic than space will allow, but I am sure there is more than one school of thought pertaining to this. It would be great if everyone could see through the eyes of coaches and teachers to see what they see, but I am sure many parents would like those coaches and teachers to see through their eyes as well. Maybe we can just trade glasses in the future.

Sahli is a long-time West Fargo resident, parent, coach, outdoor enthusiast, and former columnist for NDSU Bison athletics in varying publications. He can be reached at for comments and ideas.