Coach of the Year. Coach Wolfe.
I've had the extraordinary blessing and experience to spend intimate time with some of the most successful, famous coaches in American History: Locker room speeches with Bill Walsh, one-on-one basketball with Mike McCarthy (you'd never know he can shoot the lights out, seeing him roam Lambeau Field now), and dock time with Jon Gruden. I've maybe gotten three autographs in my life; one of my most prized possessions (currently sitting in my office), is a hand-signed-to-me copy of "They Call Me Coach," by John Wooden, likely the most famous coach of all time. Very rarely, my close friends will tell you, do I talk about these guys and experiences. Almost never do I name drop them like this. We are, however, talking about Coach Wolfe. When I think of Coach Wolfe, artist, musician and teacher, I am overwhelmed with emotion. Brian Wolfe is truly extraordinary. As both a friend and admirer, I am deeply grateful that the coaching body he coaches against elected him coach of the year.
I knew of him, watching from afar as a Waldorf parent, for three years, hearing story upon story, legend upon legend from deeply grateful parent after deeply grateful parent before I officially met him. I've come to see a truly unmatched commitment to this unique community, whom many would wash off as a bunch of hippies, and at best, half-interested in sports.
Certainly a guy this talented at coaching and teaching wouldn't give his entire adult life to this small niche of kids basketball? What is the career pinnacle he could personally reach on this platform? Coach of the Year in Waldorf? We have been, and continue to be blessed that Coach Wolfe is not measuring rings pressed with "national" or "world champion." He is measuring simple, life-changing moments in the magic space that is the development of young peoples' lives. He has recognized this, and is led by an internal commitment to providing it.
Last year, after 10 years of trying, his 8th grade boys won the tournament championship. For my family, it was as exciting as watching my father win his first Rose Bowl. I remember Coach Wolfe on the court after the game: "I can't wait to get the trophy back to Miss Debbie," Davis Waldorf School's truly extraordinary do-everythinger, who knows each child's name and family member needs. That is what Coach Wolfe looked forward to. Sharing the trophy with someone he knows gives everything she has to this community of kids…just like himself.
When you meet a true coach, living the life I have led, you know it in about 20 seconds. Coach Wolfe can spit off the philosophy of Jim Calhouns iconic UConn defense, decipher a motion offense or zone press to a level so geeked-out that only Mike Krzyzewski would stay interested past a minute or two... Nothing makes us smile more than his priceless, chalk-drawn pre-game lessons for the team. Recently, we gathered with a few "professional" coaches and I wondered if he would feel intimidated at all...they were sharing their new multi-million dollar instant iPad software, for watching edited practice film 3000 miles away from where the actual practice was held, minutes after the practice ended. Most everyone around faded into some other conversation, but Coach Wolfe, with his slab of cement facility and bag of balls he had to lobby for, as probably the last thing on the schools budget, dove right in and held his own with 40-year veteran coaches, going over every minute detail. A coach is a coach is a coach.
On top of being a coach to the bone, as the best coaches in sports are, Coach Wolfe ALSO has a unique and unwavering passion, interest and commitment to the development of the children and young men and women he is influencing everyday, using the leading edge of Steiner philosophy, Simplicity Parenting, everything he can possibly get his hands on…I have seen this willingness to integrate developmentally appropriate sports only two, or maybe three times in my 40 years and interacting with thousands of coaches.
I wish I could communicate clearly the extreme rarity it is to have a man so talented, so smart, a true walking encyclopedia of basketball knowledge…who also "gets" the power and gift of Waldorf and includes with grace, so much of Steiner's philosophy. His commitment to life changing moments for these kids is truly authentic.
If you have ever worried, like many peers of mine have inquired, about your "Waldorf" children or grandchildren being "too hippie" (like my parents panicked about for over for 3 years), you will know the precious gift it is to have a true teacher that brings ALL OF IT to his 2nd grade games class, his Varsity High School Basketball games, and every age between. There's a balance to the POWER of sport and the beauty of the perspective that Steiner brings to what really matters in life. Coach Wolfe brings this. And his kids know it.
We can maybe count on one hand the group of guys in the U.S. that bring what coach Wolfe brings, day in and day out, the sacrifices he makes that he never mentions to anyone, putting thousands of miles on his car throughout the year and thousands of hours YEAR ROUND (his wife will tell you), preparing to contribute to his students and players.
As a coach's son since birth, with a life in professional coaching, I can guarantee you NO COACH is loved by all. And Coach Wolfe is no exception to that. He's not perfect and he knows it. Improving, learning, and growing is part of what keeps him working at his craft.
But let me tell you something, this guy is one in 10 million. Period. He can coach at ANY level. I thank our blessings everyday that Coach Wolfe happens to have fallen in love with Waldorf.
I am so blessed that my four boys will wear their Wolfe Pack sweatshirts with a deep connection to so many life lessons, and a pride they will carry the rest of their lives.