The Unsung Coaching Heroes

By Jack McElligott and Zachary Harnischfeger

When it comes to coaching a sports team, the work involved cannot be done by one person. It takes a group effort from a staff of people to organize and manage the athletes. While the head coach gets most of the attention, assistant coaches are often just as important to a team’s success.

Assistant coaches are often the first line between players and the coaching staff. Being there for them when they need specific help or have questions that need to be answered. They fill in for places where a head coach may be too busy handling their workload. They are key in building trust amongst players and implementing team strategies. At SUNY Brockport, assistant coaches like Jonathan Schwind are key to the team’s success.

Schwind as a base coach with the Indianapolis Indians, Photo Credit: Pickin’ Splinters

“A player wants to know three things from a coach….Can I trust the coach? Does the coach care about me? And the third thing is how is the coach going to get me better?”, Schwind said.

Schwind always keeps those three things in mind as one of the assistant coaches for the baseball program. He incorporates his experience as a former player in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization as well.

“When I was injured my last couple of years prior, you know, my fifth, sixth, seventh year, kind of realize that the organization kind of viewed me as a player and a coach at the same time, if that makes sense,” Schwind said.

It is those skills and pathway that led him to his coaching career at Brockport. With his experience and leadership skills, he guides young players as well as other coaches on his team. Brockport Baseball player Alan-Michael Lefrois has seen Schwind’s effect on the team up close and personally.

“He cares more about you as a human being than what you put on the field, and I think because of that, you’re so comfortable learning from him on the field. Thats because you know he has your best interests at heart, on and off the field and he’s just a genuine good guy,” Lefrois said.

Alan-Michael Lefrois getting ready to hit. Photo by Brockport Athletics

Assistant coaches can add a personal touch where the head coach may not be able to. They are often the ones specifically working with certain players. Specializing in different areas and adding expertise where needed.

“The head coach doesn’t really have time to coach every player on the team… I think assistant coaches are kind of the glue guys of the team. They’re the ones that get down in the trenches with you and go to war trying to make you better every day. So, without the assistant coaches the head coach can’t put a good team on the field and a good product,” Lefrois said.

An example of this type of coach would be assistant coach Scott Foster with the Brockport women’s basketball team. Him and his head coach Corinne Jones will usually split offensive and defensive duties with Foster on offense.

Foster was hired before the start of the 22-23 season, Photo Credit: Brockport Athletics

“We do a good job. of both sharing and obviously collaborating on both sides of the ball but when it comes to like installs and things like that, on the offensive side, I’m usually the person that does it,” Foster said.

Being the only full-time assistant on the staff he finds himself being more hands on then his previous jobs. He enjoys more time with the players and being able to build better relationships.

“I’m here every single day. I’m here all day long. So, the girls will have their academic meetings will have their basketball meetings. We’ll do some shooting workouts with them if they want, we’ll do some film watching with them,” Foster said.

Without the constant work of these assistant coaches’ teams and athletic programs would not be able to operate. They shoulder much of the workload when it comes to keeping players engaged and happy with their place on the team. It takes a full coaching staff to be able to unlock the true potential of a team and the players on it.



Categories: Brockport

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