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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Lessons from a coaching legend

Uploaded: Apr 16, 2013
When 49er legend and Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott spoke to the DeLaSalle football team banquet a few years back, Coach Bob Ladoucer was all ears.
Lott, as Ladoucer told men of the Community Presbyterian Church in Danville at the Diablo Country Club last week, started out by talking about submitting to authority if you wanted to excel. In his case, he cited his dad, his coaches (John Robinson at USC and Bill Walsh at the 49ers where he was a 10-time Pro Bowl selection) as men who had his best interests at heart and knew more than he did.
For Ladoucer, who teaches religion at the Concord Jesuit high school, that submission starts with Jesus Christ. He retired as head coach last fall after winning 399 games in 34 seasons and nearly countless North Coast Section championships (28, plus five state titles).
Lott went on to talk about motivation and how it was fear of failure that drove him throughout his career that was filled with achievement—four Super Bowl championships as well as a consensus All-American honors and the eventual induction into the Hall of Fame. Lott constantly asked "what if" to drive him to do the necessary training.
Ladoucer said he was driven by the same questions of failure that compelled Lott. Did he do enough? Did his team prepare enough? Would he make the right call in a key situation?
Later, he was asked about his leadership or managerial style. He acknowledged that the buck stopped with him, but that key decisions were never made without consulting with the rest of the coaching staff. What was really interesting was his comment that his coaching staff was ego-free. That allowed free flowing discussions and a level of accountability when a particular unit was not performing—fellow coaches called him out and asked what needed to change. That ego-free approach with accountability around the coaching staff strikes me as unusual.
Beginning his talk, he noted that he has gone from a 25-year-old head coach and teacher trying to figure it out to one of the old guys with a nickname of Old Man River. Life does do that to all of us fortunate enough to experience enough decades on this globe. That resonated with a number of the men in the room who have some gray hair, but there were plenty of younger guys as well as a number of coaches.
Bob also spent some time talking about how to teach high school students to truly love. He related it to the challenges Jesus faced teaching agape love. He admitted that teaching the concept of God's love for us in the religion classes was particularly challenging and he had concluded that students simply had not lived long enough and been exposed to love that goes way beyond raging hormones. That also speaks to trying to create a culture on a football team that will encourage true love and respect for teammates striving together to achieve a common goal.
Achieving goals is something Bob Ladoucer can teach lifelong classes about—as he said, what they do for individual players is hold up mirrors and offer honest feedback on how much the coaching staff believes they can do and what goals and work habits will take to get there.


When 49er legend and Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott spoke to the DeLaSalle football team banquet a few years back, Coach Bob Ladoucer was all ears.
Lott, as Ladoucer told men of the Community Presbyterian Church in Danville at the Diablo Country Club last week, started out by talking about submitting to authority if you wanted to excel. In his case, he cited his dad, his coaches (John Robinson at USC and Bill Walsh at the 49ers where he was a 10-time Pro Bowl selection) as men who had his best interests at heart and knew more than he did.
For Ladoucer, who teaches religion at the Concord Jesuit high school, that submission starts with Jesus Christ. He retired as head coach last fall after winning 399 games in 34 seasons and nearly countless North Coast Section championships (28, plus five state titles).
Lott went on to talk about motivation and how it was fear of failure that drove him throughout his career that was filled with achievement—four Super Bowl championships as well as a consensus All-American honors and the eventual induction into the Hall of Fame. Lott constantly asked "what if" to drive him to do the necessary training.
Ladoucer said he was driven by the same questions of failure that compelled Lott. Did he do enough? Did his team prepare enough? Would he make the right call in a key situation?
Later, he was asked about his leadership or managerial style. He acknowledged that the buck stopped with him, but that key decisions were never made without consulting with the rest of the coaching staff. What was really interesting was his comment that his coaching staff was ego-free. That allowed free flowing discussions and a level of accountability when a particular unit was not performing—fellow coaches called him out and asked what needed to change. That ego-free approach with accountability around the coaching staff strikes me as unusual.
Beginning his talk, he noted that he has gone from a 25-year-old head coach and teacher trying to figure it out to one of the old guys with a nickname of Old Man River. Life does do that to all of us fortunate enough to experience enough decades on this globe. That resonated with a number of the men in the room who have some gray hair, but there were plenty of younger guys as well as a number of coaches.
Bob also spent some time talking about how to teach high school students to truly love. He related it to the challenges Jesus faced teaching agape love. He admitted that teaching the concept of God's love for us in the religion classes was particularly challenging and he had concluded that students simply had not lived long enough and been exposed to love that goes way beyond raging hormones. That also speaks to trying to create a culture on a football team that will encourage true love and respect for teammates striving together to achieve a common goal.
Achieving goals is something Bob Ladoucer can teach lifelong classes about—as he said, what they do for individual players is hold up mirrors and offer honest feedback on how much the coaching staff believes they can do and what goals and work habits will take to get there.


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