Dean Linke  |  Host of The ECNL Podcast  |  November 30, 2020

The opportunity to interview legendary coaches, whether pro or college, has always been one of the best parts about my job.  Getting to talk to leaders of highly successful teams, particularly those who have sustained repeated college success where the talent rotates so often, always provides new insight and information.  When Anson Dorrance came on Breaking the Line this week, he was his usual fantastic interview, and as always, I took away some great new insights.

Two of his messages in the very fast hour-long podcast continued to resonate with me days later.   The first message that struck me was about connecting coaching to the athlete’s commitment outside of team training. He spoke about when athletes left for the summer, or any other extended break, the ability to see and assess their level of commitment to the sport and personal development when they returned. Did they come back as good or better than when they left?  Did they train and push themselves as hard, without their teammates and coaches there to set expectations?  “Whenever a kid comes back from a break, I always look to see if they are better or worse.  Part of our function as coaches is to find that button to get the player to work on their own.  There is a lot time outside of the training environment.  We are trying to motivate them through their entire life.”  This is such an interesting concept and rings true throughout life – success is largely based on a drive from within. The self-starter who will never stop pushing, even when alone, almost always gets further and does better – in sport, in business, and in life.

The other item that I keep replaying in my head was the age-old interview question, “what would you tell your younger self”.  Interestingly when Anson was asked this “standard” question, his response was the most unique I have heard from this type of question.  Anson said he’d tell himself nothing.  “Suffering for a while is how you grow.  All psychologists say most growth is when you collided with something.  So, I wouldn’t grease the rails for my younger self.”  This answer said so much about his perspective and his humility.  He realizes his path to success wouldn’t be the same without the failures and struggles along the way. As we finish out what many will call the hardest year of their lives, this answer gave me great hope for 2021 and beyond.  I believe and hope that many of us will emerge stronger and better than ever before.

Christian and Anson shared such great mutual respect and admiration for one another and their respective roles in the American game. As always, it was a pleasure to talk with both as they exchanged thoughts on the bright future of the sport in the United States.