No matter how much prior experience you have as a player or assistant coach, there’s nothing that can replicate being the face of a program.
Lindsey Hamlin learned that last season.
Hamlin arrived as the head coach of Graceville (Florida) High School after a four-year stint (two as a player, two as a graduate assistant) at nearby Chipola College, home of one of the most dominant junior college programs in the nation of late.
While Hamlin was a part of the Lady Indians, Chipola captured an NJCAA national title (2015), two Region VII and state titles (2013, 2015) and two Panhandle Conference titles (2012, 2015).
However, the winning culture at Chipola didn’t automatically translate at Graceville, as the Lady Tigers struggled to a 5-12 record in 2016.
That didn’t mean the season was in vain. In fact, it was quite the opposite.
Hamlin is proud of the fact that her Tigers developed character while she found her voice as a coach. She lists five ways a rocky year one has helped pave the way for what she expects to be a smoother go-around in year two.
“The most difficult thing was probably writing a lineup. It’s not about knowing who to put in; it’s knowing what order to put them in. I feel like this year I kind of know more and feel more secure about it. That’s something that you don’t really think about as an assistant coach. You don’t ever actually have to write the lineup; you just get out there and coach. I feel like I’ll have a lot more experience with that.”
Establishing a culture
“Kind of the mindset that Chipola has is you strive to be perfect every day even though no one is perfect. I guess that’s kind of my mentality. The chances of having a perfect game are slim to none, but I feel like coming from a Chipola background that I know how to get the girls to win ballgames. Then you add in the family aspect that Chipola has. It takes a whole family to win a ballgame, all the way to the people in the stands cheering us on.”
“I feel like I’m a lot more confident this year with making different plays and doing different things. You know, you go into coaching and you know the game from playing, but coaching and playing are two different things. I really look forward to this season and trying different things and really getting to be with the same group of girls. That’s good because we don’t have to restart. Only losing one senior is a great thing.”
“I feel like the players are a lot more open with me. They stop and ask more questions this year. Like if I say something and they don’t quite understand it, they’ll all stop me. I feel like a lot of the terms I used last year they didn’t quite understand it, but they’re grasping it better this year. Last year it seemed like we started at square one. I told them we’re building a brick each day. Every day we’re laying another brick down. We’ve already got a good foundation laid. We just have to keep adding up those bricks to get the house built.”
Developing a hands-on approach
“I think it helps that I can get out there and show them. A lot of my teaching and a lot of my coaching involves me getting out there and showing them with my actions. There isn’t a position on the field that I haven’t played. I feel like knowing all of those positions is big because I can show them and teach them. I’m not a coach that’s going to sit and yell at them. I have my glove at practice just like every player there. Today, I actually pitched to the team. I feel like that’s an advantage our team has. I don’t know of any other team in our area that has a coach pitch to their team.”