One in 10 Million

Article link is   here     .

Article link is here .

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.


"I never had to relive those games..."

Everyday David works with professional athletes, clearing physical, emotional and spiritual trauma from a lifetime of extreme pressures.  And still, we celebrate sports, and the profound meaning they bring to the individual, their families and communities.  As with everything in Waldorf education, it's not a matter of censoring, but timing and conscious engagement from coaches and parents.

Here, our own Brian Wolfe, a 10 year+ Waldorf games teacher & championship-winning upper grades basketball coach, gives an opening chat for Kim John Payne, author of Simplicity Parenting and Beyond Winning, Smart Parenting in a Toxic Sports Environment.

I once thanked "Mr. Wolfe," with tears in my eyes, for being another strong male role model for my sons.  He thanked me, but I said, "No, really. I want you to understand.  It's been years, now, that they come home elated, sharing stories and laughing over their games and art time with you.  Years of us realizing you are one of the best parts of their day.  We don't believe this is a small thing.  It's a huge thing, for them to love art, to learn to play cooperatively and to have another man in their life that sees them, celebrates them and holds them accountable.  We're deeply grateful."  

For one of our sons, this was so much more important, because he was recovering from post-traumatic stress from my near-terminal pregnancies (his own and his brother's).  Waldorf education allowed us to slow down enough for us to really support  our son, to see his true smile emerge and to feel him come into his own happiness with a sense of ownership and curiosity.  He has always been exposed to professional sports, and now, at twelve years old, he's ready to begin organized sports for himself.  

With coaches and parents holding the family, the child's health, friendships, skills, sportsmanship and winning as important aspects of a holistic picture, I'm ready, too.  And grateful.

Thank you for being a part of this community and conversation.  It's so important.  You can get Kim's book, Beyond Winning, here. 


5 Goals for the upcoming season

Driving home tonight from a pre-season workout with my high school girls basketball team, I started thinking about some of my favorite phrases/sayings/quotes that I've heard coaches use to motivate their teams. I've always loved the challenge of finding the perfect quote to share with my team to fire them up before a practice or game. As these quotes bounced around in my mind, I started thinking about what I need to do to be the best possible coach for my team this year. What gets me fired up to give my all? I came up with a list of five things I must do to help my team have a great experience this season. 

    1. People first. I want to connect with my players on a human level and try to understand them as people instead of just basketball players. I have to be open and honest with my players about who I am as a person and really get to know who they are as people. Ganon Baker, one of the top basketball trainers in the country, says "You have to reach them before you can teach them!" 

    2. Little things. My own high school coach's mantra was "The little things are the big things." A player who reminds her teammate what type of defense we are playing during the game is doing a "little thing" to help the team. However, communication on a team is BIG thing. I feel like I will have done my job if my players understand how important the little things are to our success as a team.

    3. Attitude is everything. "Great thoughts attract great results; mediocre thoughts attract mediocre results." I don't remember where I read that quote but it has shaped the way I think about the season. This year, my goal is to make sure my team knows that I am going to give them my all for two hours every time we practice and that I absolutely believe that we will learn and grow as a team every time we step on the court together. 

    4. Next Play. "Next Play" is a phrase that Coach Mike Krzyzewski (hall of fame NCAA men's basketball coach) has used for 33 seasons at Duke University (one of the most successful teams in all of sports) to help his players stay in the moment. "Next play" is a phrase that I'd like to hear everyday with my team this year." Coach K explains it best:

    "In basketball and in life, I have always maintained the philosophy of 'next play.' Essentially what it means is that what you have just done is not nearly as important as what you are doing right now. This philosophy emphasizes the fact that the most important play of the game or life moment on which you should always focus is the next one... To waste time lamenting a mistake or celebrating success is distracting and can leave you and your team unprepared for what you are about to face. It robs you of the ability to do your best at that moment and to give your full concentration."

    5. Simplify. The great UCLA coach John Wooden told his players, "Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do." I love the game of basketball so much and sometimes I get excited and try to do too much with my team. My goal this year is for my team to do a few things really well based on what my players CAN do (*sometimes coaches try to coach the team they wish they had versus the team they actually have*). Focusing on what we CAN do will set us up for success. 

    There are many more things to add to this list but, in the spirit of #5, I'm stopping here for now. 

    Much more to come! 


    PS. Even though I said I was stopping at 5, I think number 6 should be: Remember that these are all about much more than basketball.  


      Watching for the little things in practice   

     Watching for the little things in practice