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How Do You “Do” Humanics? Coach Graves Helps Define Role of Teacher-Coach in Humanics

By Chris Gregor

nAomi GrAvEs’ (G’85) yEAr as the 2011-2012 Distinguished Springfield Professor of Humanics began with a plan, but as with many plans, it was replaced with a better one. The head women’s basketball coach’s theme for the year was to examine the role of the teacher-coach and how, on an everyday basis, their work relates in a very special way to the Humanics philosophy. She initially considered interviewing alumni recommended by

“[Coaches], in a sense, are strong protectors of the legacy and tradition that is Humanics. This is often what fosters student-athletes to become coaches themselves and pay that stewardship forward.”

Springfield College coaches. Then she changed course and decided, instead, to go to the teams and ask that they submit videos to a competition about how student-athletes envisioned Humanics and their role in Humanics. “The idea was to see how they defined Humanics. The only parameter I gave was this: you define it. I wouldn’t give them any more than that. The flyer I sent out to intro- duce the idea to the teams was “Top Ten Ways You Do Humanics.” Fourteen teams took part; the women’s volleyball and women’s basketball teams eventually won the competition. “The videos were judged by past distinguished professors and team captains. It was amazing how proficient the athletes were in putting these together. The videos were accompanied by music and illustrated the various teams’ understanding of and participation in Humanics in action. I showed the two winning videos at my presentation and spliced together a compilation of the other entrants. It was very well received,” says Graves. In her mission to examine

the role of teacher-coach, Graves found some great insights by interviewing student-athletes. “It was an amazing and enjoyable year, giving me some great answers. I was enlightened by the


degree our coaching staff reinforces the Humanics philosophy with our teams. They often do it ‘under the radar.’ It might be just encouraging a kid. It is very informal on a day to day basis; maybe how we conduct practice, begin or end practice, treat people with respect, or reach out to the community through the teams. These are all ways they are doing service to Humanics and being stewards,” she explains. “Coaches gain insights into students’ lives and have special

Naomi Graves

opportunities to interact and have influence on them through the recruiting process—coaches also get to know students personally and understand their families and situations, all this contributes to a closeness that enhances the impact coaches can have. They may know a lot more about their student-athletes than other people on campus. Day to day there may also be a more emotional connection just from the natural emotion of competition and coaching athletes for competition,” she adds. One of Graves’ priority goals was to develop and further the idea

of coaches as stewards of Humanics. “Stewardship is different from mentorship and leadership. It’s almost as if each of these teacher- coaches has an internal flame that keeps alive the importance of competing at SC, and they pass it on to the athletes on their teams. They, in a sense, are strong protectors of the legacy and tradition that is Humanics. This is often what fosters student-athletes to become coaches themselves and pay that stewardship forward,” she says. Part of Graves’ mission was to educate about the role of the

teacher-coach, which she feels is a dying breed right now. So, another piece she explored was ‘Why do we do this?’ “Why do we, as coaches, go this route instead of just saying I’m going to do only one thing?

TRIANGLE 1 Vol . 84, No. 1

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