In order for students to excel at school sports, they need excellent coaching. Many new and developing coaches in high school and college sports lack the training and skills they need to be effective. This is why the School of Continuing Studies at Dominican will begin offering a program in January aimed at overcoming that deficiency.
The 10-week course, Excellence in Coaching, was designed by 50-year-old John Planek.
Planek, who possesses an abundance of experience and knowledge in the field, has been involved in athletics for 27 years as an athletic director, coach, official, athlete and fan. He received his master’s degree in sports administration from St. Thomas University in Miami and his doctorate in education from Loyola University Chicago.
He was athletic director at Loyola for 12 years. Prior to going to Loyola, he was athletic director at St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago.
“The class will focus on how coaches can be better teachers, better communicators and most importantly better role models for their athletes,” Planek said.
He said there are variations of the program offered at other institutions, but he believes his class will be taught in a unique way, focusing on how coaches can be “transformational” through interactions with their team.
“In the same way teachers are prepared to teach, coaches need to be prepared to coach,” Planek said. The course is based on Planek’s coaching philosophies that will be a foundation for coaches just starting out as well as help those already in the field.
Instilling sportsmanship, creating a team culture, making practice count and emphasizing the positive are among the many topics that will be covered throughout the course.
Planek speaks passionately about coaching and his philosophy of life. “In everything you do, coaching or otherwise, be transformational. Love your players,” he said.
“ [Coaches] change lives and build men and women of character and substance,” Planek said, speaking of his vision of what makes a good coach. Being transformational allows coaches to use their leadership and knowledge to impact and transform players’ lives, he explained.
“They may not know what the right way is or how to become transformational. This class will help them. It also will help them become a better person,” Planek said.
Planek had been developing this program for years before he introduced it to Matt Hlinak, assistant provost for Continuing Studies and Special Initiatives at Dominican. Hlinak agrees that this program will benefit emerging coaches as well as existing ones.
“Planek’s enthusiasm is infectious, and I think people who go through the program will become our strongest advocates,” Hlinak said.
Planek feels the course will provide a basic set of tools to better train and mentor athletic coaches at every academic level. “For those students that have aspirations to teach and coach as a career, this course will serve them well and give some great foundations for coaching,” he said.
He hopes the course will become a signature offering at Dominican. “My goal is to make it the best class on campus,” Planek said.
– Tia Soumbasis, Contributing Writer