Why Free?

Not too long ago, someone asked me why I don’t charge for the baseball skills and hitting camps I offer. It’s because I’m a saint…okay, okay, quit giggling, I apologize for that “little” lie.

Honestly, I’ve thought about it. As a civil servant working at a state university, with twins in college, and a teacher wife taking graduate course work, heaven knows a few extra dollars wouldn’t hurt.

But, I don’t charge a dime.
Why?
Because, nobody ever charged me.

My father, Joe Hays, never charged me for his help.

My brothers, Pat, Tim, Dan, and Tom never charged me for their time or help.

The kids in the neighborhood and my friends never charged a solid quarter for the pick-up games, the whiffle ball games and the home run derby contests.

Coaching influences Bernie Hansel, Bill Patch, Ray Kistler, Dom Dumovich, “Easy” Ed Hernandez, Forest Miles, Bruce Gibb, Steve Burleson, Ron Koster, Rex Carlson, Barrett Long, and Dennis “Harpo” Hurla never charged Mike Hays anything to help him get a leg up in the game of baseball.

So, what gives me the right to charge? Nothing.

If I charge kids, who pays? Their parents, right? Now, those parents who emptied the wallet to pay for these lessons will naturally have high expectations. And, as sure as 2+2=4, these high expectations directly transfer to the kid.

Here’s a little sports secret: Stressed out, high anxiety athletes at every level do not perform well. The pressure and the expectation put on a kid after their parent’s monetary investment is something I do not want to make the kids have to deal with.

In a nutshell, here’s what we focus on in our camps:

  • Teach fundamental sports skills.
  • Teach them to be done with a relaxed and efficient body.
  • Practice, practice and practice these skills until they are second nature.
  • Now, the most important step, teach them to have fun playing. Teach them if they work at the skills and they learn to relax and perform, then success will follow. Success = Fun.

There is a lot of discussion in our community about money and extracurricular sports activities. Sports are important to me, always have been, always will be. But, I know sports are not life.
Sports are not at the core mission of what we do as communities. That is why they throw the “extra-” in front of the “curricular”.

Please, support your extracurricular activities with a positive mindset. Support them by providing the coaches and the programs with the budgets and salaries they need and deserve. But, never, ever forget to keep them in perspective.

Perspective. That’s what makes the difference.

Do sports because you enjoy doing sports. As a parent, fan, administrator, coach, or player, put sports in the proper context and savor every second you are fortunate to be involved in them.

Coach and teach sports without trying make a fast dime. I calculated my pay rate one year when I coach both football and baseball at Clay Center Community High School and it came out to be just over $5.00/hour (AND that did not include summer football conditioning hours or baseball field work time that year. It was too depressing to even calculate all that.).

Don’t do it for the money. Do it because you love the sport and love passing it along to future generations just as those in the last generation passed them along to you.

Finally, a little sports disclaimer:

Sports are not life.
Life is life.
Sport are for enjoyment purposes only.
Enjoy them!

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Proposed Holiday: Magic 8 Ball Day

“See, I’m an idea man, Chuck.” – Bill Blazejowski, NIGHT SHIFT (1982)

As Minister of Stupidity, it recently was brought to my attention there is no real summer holiday between the stellar events of July 20 (Apollo Moon Landing, 1969) and Labor Day.

Sure, if you are a heathen or a teacher, there’s always that first day of school thing, but, seriously, not exactly a holiday. There is also the first day of football practice. But again, although somewhat exciting to be back at football, two-a-day really are not anyone’s real idea of a holiday.

So where are we left now? The Holiday Desert.

I would like to propose a new holiday. A holiday which does not take itself too seriously and may or may not involve a day off (mostly depending of whether you are willing to spend your own leave time.)

The new holiday is Magic 8 Ball Day. I propose a date of August 8th to hold this new esteemed holiday. On Magic 8 Ball Day, one should only respond to questions with standard answers from the most famous toy-with-a-dark-purpose ever invented. The toy which can read the stars and give the most relevant answer to life’s biggest questions.

Q: “Magic 8 Ball, is today a good day to tell my boss to !@#$-off?”

A: “REPLY HAZY, TRY AGAIN”

Q: “Magic 8 Ball, should I buy my wife a nice gift because she’s so awesome?”

A: “OUTLOOK NOT SO GOOD.”

Are you starting to see the beauty of Magic 8 Ball Day? It will be the perfect day to find answers to your burning questions.

To get the inaugural Magic 8 Ball Day off to a rousing start, here are the 20 possible Magic 8 Ball answers:

  • It is certain
  • It is decidedly so
  • Without a doubt
  • Yes definitely
  • You may rely on it
  • As I see it, yes
  • Most likely
  • Outlook good
  • Yes
  • Signs point to yes
  • Reply hazy try again
  • Ask again later
  • Better not tell you now
  • Cannot predict now
  • Concentrate and ask again
  • Don’t count on it
  • My reply is no
  • My sources say no
  • Outlook not so good
  • Very doubtful

Happy Magic 8 Ball Day!

You’re welcome, in advance.

magic-8-ball_3

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There’s no “I” in team, but there is a “ME”

“There’s no “I” in team, but there sure as heck is a “ME”.”

Of all the stupid coach-things I ever said, this was one of my favorites and maybe the wisest stupid thing I’ve ever said. It kind of goes against the grain against the popular “No ‘I’ in team” sayings we are so familiar with.

A good team is not a group of harmoniously tuned clones; a good team is a collection of individuals, from diverse backgrounds and personalities, who work well together toward achieving a goal.

I did not care where you can from.
I did not care who your friends were or what interests you had.
I did not care who your parents were.
I did not care where you came from.

What I cared about was how you contributed to the team. What I cared about was this. When you stepped across the white line and onto the field, you put the blinders on and committed to working toward making the team better.

Every minute, every hour, every day.

There is some intriguing research being down on the team concept in education, business, etc. Po Bronson, co-author of TOP DOG: THE SCIENCE OF WINNING AND LOSING, has some interesting ideas about the team.

One very important find from the research identifies the 60/30/10 Rule as a formula for a team, whether business, sports, education, etc.

60% of a team’s success is directly related to who is on the team. This means talent. Talented teams succeed. Building a team and/or acquiring talent matters in a big way. The talent level matters more than most people ever realize (or wish to admit). Coaches/leaders are important, but not nearly for the reasons most of us believe.

30% of the success is in the setup of the team. The setup of a team includes the program’s philosophy, goals, and the road map plan to get there. The single most important thing a leader can do to give a team the best chance to succeed is to clarify the roles on the team. Every member of the team should have a role and understand this role.

10% has to do with leadership. The leader’s job, once the team’s goals and roles are established, is to keep the team on course. Don’t micromanage a team.

So what the research is saying is that coaches are not the wizards most people perceive them to be. Coach K, Bill Self, or Bill Snyder are all exceptional in their set up of a team by implementing their goals, philosophies, and role clarification. Where these coaches excel at is acquiring talent and getting those players onto the field with the program’s goals, philosophies and specific roles fully ingrained.

They set and keep the course, not micromanage.

There’s a misconception about a team that everyone must get along. This is crap. Seriously. Harmony and chemistry are two very different things. Harmony means a peaceful, constant state. Harmony does not equate to team, though. Harmony kills progress with complacency. Sure you need some team harmony; you can’t be a team that goes for each other’s throats at every turn, that’s dysfunctional.

One of my biggest coaching pet peeves was the deal making kids would do. The
‘I’ll go easy and scratch your back if you’ll go easy and scratch mine” of the #1’s on the depth chart vs the #2’s and #3’s on the depth chart during drills and scrimmages. I want competition, I want fire. I want an environment the #2 is out to beat the #1 and the #3 is out to put the #2 and the #1 on the edge.

A little skirmish every now and then is not a bad thing for a team. Just don’t allow these little skirmishes to develop into team rifts. Players should challenge each to get better, not beat down each other. Serious issues need to be addressed and resolved early prior to becoming team rifts.

Chemistry is a mix of team member’s personality and skills which move the team forward and drive every member to get better. The players in the mix don’t have to be homogenous. They can be as different as can be. The only thing that matters is the team moves toward its goals.

A team needs someone to rock the boat and be a catalyst to trigger improvement. A team needs someone to point out the deficiencies in the team AND (this AND is very, very important) work to find solutions to improve.

Don’t underestimate the power of the individual to a group or team. As a coach, boss, or team leader, make an effort to understand the 60/30/10 Rule. Assemble the best talent you can, define and assign roles, and let people do their jobs.

Individuals matter.

Don’t allow ego to get in the way of progress.

There’s is no “I” in team, but there is a “ME”.

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#MeReadBill

“Me thinks I shall take on Shakespeare this year.”

The Bard. William “F-ing” Shakespeare, as a friend of my used to say. Shakespeare. The mere word sends shivers down the spines of most young males, conjuring images of fiercely cruel language arts teachers, senseless drivel, and a looming conspiratorial theory the educators of today must be receiving a royalty kickback from the descendants of the Bard.

Now that I have that Shakespearean rant off my chest, I have an announcement.

I am making this the Summer of Shakespeare.

376px-Title_page_William_Shakespeare's_First_Folio_1623

That’s right, doubters of my intellectual inspirations and motivations. I am going to spend the wonderful Summer of 2014 reading me some Shakespeare.

What gives, you ask?

Well, the Mrs. Hays just finished a two-year teaching stint of freshman English at the local high school. She really got into the Romeo and Juliet. In fact, she even convinced me to listen to the audio CD version she bought for her classroom. I did. It was good. No, it was a very awesome, great kind of good. Much better than I remembered from my junior high days when I may have bribed someone to read the play and supply enough modern, translated information to pass the exam.

(NOTE: I did enjoy watching the 1968  Zeffirelli Romeo and Juliet movie in a 9th grade assembly and was wondrously impressed we freshmen were allowed to view a movie with nudity, albeit partial and fleeting, in the name of “art”.  And coming from Catholic school to my first year of public school…Go art!)

So, at 49 years old, with my new, slightly-skewed-toward-the-positive, personal worldview of Shakespeare in place, Mrs. Hays sent me a link several months ago to a free app download from PlayShakespeare.com. An app which contained the complete works of one William Shakespeare. Now, “All the world’s a stage…” and I have access to read and learn more about Shakespeare than I ever dreamed I’d need or want.

Thus was born, the Summer of Shakespeare. I am going to read Shakespeare this summer to go along with my #MeReadBook philosophy. My plan is to flip between tragedies and comedies to squeeze in as many of the plays which I have always been curious to read but never “got around to it”.

So to start the Summer of Shakespeare, I am reading Macbeth. We’ll see how this goes, friends.

Please join me if you are so inclined and join the Shakespearean fun. Check the Twitter hashtag, #MeReadBill to keep updated on current reads and any idiotic Coach Hays commentary.

Who knows?

Maybe I will survive and move out of the Summer of 2014 a changed man…

 

 

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Draft Day 2014: 50 Reasons

50 Reasons to Like NFL Draft Day

Joy
Despair
Excitement
Tension
Elation
Anxiety
The Commissioner
The Jets Fans
War Room
GMs
Head Coaches
Phone calls
On the clock
Upside
Downside
Good feet
Strong arm
Potential
Hands
Attitude
Contract
Boom
Bust
Deal-breaking
Trade-making
Career-making
Competing
Expert Analysis
Video
Tape
40-Time
Combine
Numbers
Potential
Risk
The #1 Jersey
Team Cap
Family
Friends
Agents
NYC
Suits
Bling
Style
Limo
Fans
Bench Press
Pro Day
Dreams
Realities

WilsonFootball

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My Type of Political Discussion

This is one of the great scenes from one of my favorite movies. Monty Python and the Holy Grail makes me laugh each and every time I watch it. I probably laugh more when I watch it for the 250th time than I did the 1st time.

I really don’t consider myself a political person and really don’t align very well with either political party. But, if there was a Dennis the Peasant Party, I may have to consider joining up, even if it didn’t involve a “farcical aquatic ceremony”.

And, for the record, I’ve been known to drop a “Come and see the violence inherent in the system!”, every now and then for good measure.

Scene Three from Monty Python and the Holy Grail

King Arthur: I am your king.

Peasant Woman: Well, I didn’t vote for you.

King Arthur: You don’t vote for kings.

Peasant Woman: Well, how’d you become king, then?

[Angelic music plays... ]

King Arthur: The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. That is why I am your king.

Dennis the Peasant: Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

Arthur: Be quiet!

Dennis the Peasant: You can’t expect to wield supreme power just ’cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!

Arthur: [grabs Dennis] Shut up! Will you shut up?!

Dennis: Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system!

Arthur: [shakes Dennis]Shut up!

Dennis: Oh! Come and see the violence inherent in the system! Help, help, I’m being repressed!

Arthur: Bloody Peasant!

Dennis: Ooh, what a giveaway!

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Core Competitors

It’s all about how you compete. It’s all about how you develop players who compete.

Success hinges upon this one factor. Competing. 

Competing needs to be a way of life and a daily approach to the task at hand. It is developed through constant challenge and drive to squeeze a little more out of what is in the arsenal.

And I’m not just talking about the championship caliber athlete or team, either. I’m talking about taking the average Joe. I’m talking about teaching him the basic fundamental techniques, teaching him the basic philosophy, and infusing in him a philosophy to compete every single day.

  • It’s not about facilities or about fields.
  • It’s not about snazzy uniforms or the newest and best equipment.
  • It’s not about peppy-ness or spirit or “rah rah”.
  • It is not about team functions and dinners and trinket/snack sales.
  • It is about competing. Every day, every hour, every minute, and every second.
  • It is about being a competitive clog in a competitive wheel and not settling for anything less than full-out effort by everyone.
  • It is about getting down and dirty every day to push yourself to get better.
  • It is about being up to the challenge and providing the new challenges every day.

Athletes and coaches, if you can understand this one thing and if you can focus on competing, you will be instantly headed in the right direction. Instantly.

You may not win every game, but you will compete with every ounce of marrow in  your body.

You will walk from every contest with your head held high and the respect of your opponent in your pocket.

It’s not about the WANT TO.

It’s about the “WILL DO“.

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