Palo Alto High School has coaches on staff that have coached for more years than any of the students have been alive, as well as ones that have spent less time at the school than our seniors. Each coach brings something unique to his or her sport, whether it be a technique accumulated after decades of experience or a fresh, youthful energy that stems from starting a new experience. What do the veterans and newbies each bring to the table?
Danny Dye is about to coach his 11th year at Paly and ishead coach of the boys and girls swimming and diving teams. According to Dye, coaches need to constantly adjust their coaching styles over the years in order to improve.
After years of change and experience, Dye sees himself as a much better and successful coach now than he was 19 years ago.
“I think that any coach that wants to be successful has to [make changes],” Dye said. “If you’re not willing to open your mind and see new things and adapt, then you’re going to get passed by.”
After years of experimenting, Dye has found the coaching style that suits him best to coach his swimmers, but still continues to make improvements.
“I’ve found what I think works for me,” Dye said. “But I would like to think that five to ten percent of my coaching style changes each year.”
Moving from the pool to the court, girls basketball coach Scott Peters, who has been coaching at Paly for ten years, echoed Dye’s opinion.
“[I am] always trying to learn anything new that helps me to be a better coach for the players,” Peters said.
Though some may speculate that it gets harder for coaches to connect with their athletes as they get older, Dye disagrees, since his years of experience with dealing with high schoolers actually makes it easier for him to connect with them, despite the fact that the age gap is widening.
“I’ve never found it difficult because I’ve been doing it for so long and I’ve worked with high school athletes my entire professional career,” Dye said.
After years of the same sport and same goals, veteran coaches also try to keep things fresh with new ideas. Paul Jones has been coaching at Paly since 1977, and is currently the girls cross country coach and one of the track and field coaches.
After many years of coaching, he has learned that in order to keep his coaching fresh and effective, he needs to create new goals each year to build upon the goals he has already accomplished.
“I try to come up with two or three things that I really want to accomplish for the next year that are different from the ones I had set up the year before,” Jones said. “For instance, this last year I wanted to have a team that was a little more close. I think we did pretty well with that this year.”
For the newer coaches, coach Peters has a few simple words of advice built off his years of coaching.
“[Don’t] be afraid to make mistakes,” Peters said. “Take coaching seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously.”
Kelsey Feeley has been coaching at Paly for three years and is currently the track and field head coach. During the fall, she coaches the boys cross country team. Feeley believes that as a younger coach, she has an increased ability to connect with her athletes.
“Being on the younger side, the kids are able to relate to me a little better,” Feeley said. “I was you guys not so long ago I just try to be enthusiastic out here.”
Though she does not have years of experience to build off of like more experienced coaches do, Feeley remembers and employs the coaching styles of her old coaches, who taught her just a few years ago.
As an ex-athlete, Feeley knows what it is like to be on the receiving end of coaching.
“I’ve learned from older coaches,” Feeley said. “I’ve kind of shaped my coaching style around my past experiences as an athlete and how my coaches dealt with me and my teammates.”
Aileen Delaney, who has coached Paly’s girls water polo team for two years, expressed similar sentiments as Feeley when regarding the helpfulness of using past experiences.
“New coaches usually do bring some new and different ideas to their program from their personal experiences as a coach or player,” Delaney said.
Boys lacrosse coach DJ Shelton, who is about to start his second year of coaching at Paly, agrees with Feeley. He believes his past experience as an athlete will better his coaching.
“I do believe I bring something new to the program,” Shelton said “Playing [Division III] on the East Coast opened my eyes to a more advanced level lacrosse that is common on the West Coast.”
Though Shelton believes he has his own experiences to bring to coaching, he admits that older coaches have the experience that help them run successful athletic programs.
“I have a lot to learn when it comes to running a program year to year, something only older coaches have, but I hope that my knowledge of the game will quickly breed a tradition of success and overshadow my shortcomings until I have more years under my belt,” Shelton said.
Through the collaborative efforts of the veteran and new coaches, all coaches can continue to grow and improve.
“It is important for the new coaches and more experienced coaches to interact and communicate with each other so they can both grow and become better coaches,” Delaney said.