A Coach’s Journey: John Kidwell

A Coach’s Journey: John Kidwell

In keeping with the tradition that Be the Best is a convention created for coaches by coaches, we’ve asked for inspirations and stories from your contemporaries. Click here to share something about your coaching journey. Don’t worry about making it sound good — you coach the kids, we ‘ll work the words.

John Kidwell
Head Softball Coach
Archbishop Ryan High School
Philadelphia

As a coach, we all take chances. We move our slumping clean-up hitter to seventh and she knocks it out of the park. We switch our short stop to second and she turns an incredible double play. We trust a player to steal home and we win the game. We take chances that make our players shine, propel us to victories and make us, as coaches, look good.

Or, we take a chance in the semifinals, by starting a freshman pitcher over the sophomore who beat the same team during the regular season. And, we lose the game, remembering it as one of our all-time coaching disasters.

2014 PCL Champions

But, coaching has incredible highs. Like winning the Catholic League Championship in 2014 for the first time since 1995, in the same season that we lost a long-time, beloved coach. What a tremendous feeling it was to win that title, not just for the team, but for the coach we lost. And, the pride of knowing that winning four out of five league championships has just as much to do with chemistry and ego-checking than talent.

Growing up I had two younger sisters who played softball. I spent a lot of time watching them play and figuring out the game. By the time I got to college, I knew for sure I wanted to be a coach.

I landed the head junior varsity coaching position at Archbishop Ryan in 1992. In 1997, I was promoted to varsity as an assistant coach and in 2014 was named softball’s head coach after Andy Hafele passed away.

Patches worn during the 2014 season in remembrance of Andy Hafele

Andy and I coached together for 22 years. He was not only my mentor, but a huge influence on the coach I’ve become. He taught me how to run a program and how to establish a winning culture. Andy’s presence on the field is felt to this day and I can’t help but feel he is a big reason for our recent success.

I think about Andy when I consider the impact I have on my players and work hard on building the same respect and trust that he did. Our players are only with us for four years, but the physical and emotional transformations we witness from freshman to senior year is absolutely awesome. By the time they graduate from Archbishop Ryan and head off to college, they are ready for the world. It gives me great joy to know that I, through the game of softball, was able to help shape these players into the incredible young women they’ve become.

Andy Hafele Memorial Softball Field, Archbishop Ryan High School, Philadelphia, PA

A Coach’s Journey: Phil Forbes III

A Coach’s Journey: Phil Forbes III

In keeping with the tradition that Be the Best is a convention created for coaches by coaches, we’ve asked for inspirations and stories from your contemporaries. Click here to share something about your coaching journey. Don’t worry about making it sound good — you coach the kids, we‘ll work the words.

Phil Forbes III
Head Baseball Coach
Menchville High School
Newport News, Virginia

USA TODAY’s Coach of the Year, 2009
In 2009, all nine starters went on to play college baseball.

Ever since I was a high school athlete I knew I wanted to become a coach. Luckily, my teachers and coaches saw something in that teenage kid and put me on the right path. I went to college to become a teacher so my dream could come true. I had so much respect for my coaches back then that their seal of approval was all I needed. In particular, I was inspired by my baseball coach, John Jones. He was tough, but he cared. I wanted to be a John Jones.

But, I wanted to be more than a baseball coach. I wanted to coach it all. And, so I did.

Over the course of 43 years, I have coached baseball, basketball, football, wrestling, track, volleyball and tennis at the high school and / or club level, winning championships at the district, regional and state levels.

As a baseball coach, my teams have won states, regions, districts and the national championship as NUMBER ONE in the country. Menchville High School breeds both great players and coaches. I have had some amazing assistant coaches who are extremely dedicated and together we have created a culture that reflects the game of life, not just the game of baseball.

We are so proud of the many collegiate ball players and MLB draftees that Menchville has turned out. But, we are equally as proud of those who applied the lessons they learned on the field to their chosen professions, making them huge successes in the working world.

Whatever sport I coach, I believe in the same basic philosophy. If you are disciplined on and off the field, adopt a great work ethic, be a family, be true to your parents and be a good student you will be successful, not just in your sport, but beyond.

As a coach, I try always to be fair and honest. I respect the game and want to bring out the best in each and every kid. I want to know I’ve been heard and know I’ve made an impact when a player comes back later and says, “Coach, you were right. If only I had listened.”

Today, I’m living the dream. A coach’s dream, a husband’s dream, a father’s dream and a grandfather’s dream. I’m the head baseball coach of Menchville High School. My high school sweetheart and wife, Lynn, is my biggest supporter. We critique every game together, giving me an invaluable spectator’s perspective. My son, Philip IV, is our hitting coach. And, my grandson, Philip V, plays on the team and has committed to James Madison University.

What could be better than that?